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If you are tired, sleep more. That's it.

Human capital is the collective resources of an individual and the degree of capacity to bring them to bear for the highest good of all.

Intention: To help people optimize their human capital: more great, less grind.

Source: Life so far, a career in financial services, domains of positive psychology, high-performance sport, mindfulness, neuroscience, and compassion.

Insight Five begins a four part series that are foundational to elevated and sustained performance: Rest. Fuel. Movement. Mindset. They all matter. First up … Rest

Summary: If you’re tired, sleep more. That’s it.

Giraffes are good to go with about 2 hours of sleep. Brown bats need 20. Humans need 7 to 9 hours a night, then good things happen, like thriving. But we are the only mammal that willingly delays sleep and right, not so optimal. Studies show that lack of sleep may cause Alzheimer's and linked to other health problems, including:

  • Cognitive dysfunction / depression / stress / type II diabetes / weight gain / heart disease.

Your employer should have an interest in how well you sleep too. Or maybe I'm just dreaming.

Proper sleep supports improved immune function and memory, speeds up repairs, and general optimizes performance. I know we are serious, sales and service people to lots of money, aspiring rookies, parents to magical kids, great golfers, keen cyclists, aspiring musicians, and a spouse. Before all that, we are, you are, the most successful and stunningly complex cooperation of ~30 trillion cells in the known universe: it needs sleep to feel good and last.

Your brain is either awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up. Sleep activates a waste removal system: cells shrink, and water is flushed around taking out gunk (neurotoxins). Brain hygiene is good for thriving. Sleep helps.

I swam competitively as a kid and did some crazy big workouts. I hold the world speed record for swimming across Lake Ontario and have climbed a couple of big mountains. Fact: Sleep is critical to healthy high performance: training, maintaining fitness, muscle repair, and recovery, mindset, goal attainment, and enjoyment.

You are a high-performer. Don't get to empty. Sleep isn't a leisure activity. It 'is a high-performance activity.

After getting married, we had three daughters, and I had growing responsibilities at home and work. Doing for others in every category was my strategy, looking for the "award" for best dad, the best husband, best manager. My sleep quality declined and contributed to a feeling of depletion and health issues. Personal belief: "Tough guy." Evidence above.

Must take care of everyone else first. My ego cared more about holding up all of that "best of" status than it did about the risk to what I wanted: to be happy and healthy. Not attending to healthy sleep was crushing.

I used "Rest" at the outset purposely to broaden the context of recovery. Sleep is the most significant element of rest. I also wanted to link back to the first Insight, "It's ok to close your eyes." The brain loves little micro-breaks or even a short nap. Lots of athletes take naps. So closing your eyes for a minute or two is a great way to quickly restore and reset your focus and create pauses that unlearn rushing.

Practical and instantly available tip:

When moving between meetings or during long projects or to transition between work and family:

  • Sit quietly, tall back but not rigid. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, fully into your lungs, and allow your body to relax on each slow, long exhale.

  • Face softening, shoulders letting go, following your breath use this time, even for a minute to rest the "systems," smile, breathe deeply, and exhale slowly.

  • Open your eyes and proceed to the next call or activity feeling refreshed and present, be where you are in that moment: not still in a past conversation or a future one. Just right now. The other person will love that attunement.

Sleep Prep:

  • Not eating within a few hours of sleep time helps.

  • Check out any possible sleep disorders like sleep apnea (low or paused breathing – that can't be good!)

  • Exercise promotes good sleep.

  • No alcohol before sleep.

  • Make sleep a priority. Consistent times are healthier.

  • Relaxed mind before sleep.

  • Avoid blue light from technology.

  • And my favourite, just before lights out, dwell for a few minutes on good facts from the day or run through a few things for which you are grateful.

"Get some rest, Pam. You look tired." Jason Bourne

Be kind out there. Things are better that way.


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