I don’t know anyone who brags about eating poorly. Who brags about not getting enough — much less any — exercise. Who brags about drinking too much. Or smoking.
But I know plenty of people who brag about how little they sleep.
Sure, they complain about it, but more like a humblebrag. They wear their lack of sleep like a status symbol. Like a badge of honor.
Like a proxy for just how busy motivated, driven, and success-oriented they are.
Even though they’re really saying the opposite.
A 2018 study published in Sleep found that people who sleep for five to six hours are 19 percent less productive than people who regularly sleep for seven to eight hours per night, and people who sleep for less than five hours are nearly 30 percent less productive.
Sure, they’re awake longer.
But they actually get less done.
Maybe that’s because research also shows that only getting six hours of sleep makes any task that requires focus, deep thinking, or problem-solving a lot harder; in fact, where attention and reaction time are concerned, only sleeping six hours is like drinking a couple of beers, and only sleeping four hours is like drinking five beers. Other research shows that sleep deprivation makes completing any activity that requires multiple steps — read pretty much any activity — much more difficult.
So when you brag about how little you sleep, you’re really boasting that you’re less productive than you could be. You’re really boasting that you’re less attentive, thoughtful, and mentally adept than you could be.
And that you face an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.
So yeah: Not much to brag about.
There’s a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. There’s a difference between working visibly and working well. Success has nothing to do with how many hours you work. Success is all about what you accomplish when you are working.
While you might think you only four to five hours of sleep a night — because it’s definitely possible to get by on that little sleep — only a fraction of the population is actually built that way.
Much as you might like to believe otherwise, it’s highly unlikely that less than seven hours of sleep is optimal for you.
Much less something to brag about.
Because you aren’t too busy to get enough sleep.
You’re too busy to not get enough sleep.