No B.S Friday: which comes first, sleep or genius?
Do you like your sleep?
Does that mean you’ll never achieve greatness?
So it’s a bit of a stylisation that creative geniuses don’t sleep much.
There’s actually a regime called ‘The DaVinci Sleep Schedule”:
The Da Vinci sleep schedule, also known as the “sleep of genius” or polyphasic sleep, is a type of sleep pattern which involves sleeping not more than 5 hours a day. Some experts are more strict, arguing that to follow the Da Vinci sleep schedule, a person must become accustomed to sleeping an average of two hours a day, which is how much Leonardo Da Vinci himself slept…
The “sleep of genius”! Oh wow.
Look, I don’t actually have anything to say about this particular regime – if it’s going to elevate you to the level of genius or not.
Personally, I like sleep. I enjoy it. And its one of the many joys that my lifestyle empowers – contented, restful sleep.
I don’t over do it. But I like it.
And there are a lot of examples from our celebrity fascination with CEOs. Super-achievers who don’t sleep much – Marissa Myer from Yahoo. Tim Cook from Apple. Jack Dorsey from Twitter.
The evidence seems to be there. If you want to be a super-productive genius, you need to sleep a lot less than you do, you lazy piece of garbage.
But is this actually what this is telling us?
Could the causation actually run the other way?
Could it be that being a genius or being super-productive means that you need less sleep?
That would actually be my guess.
Think about it. What is sleep?
Well, funny thing. We don’t quite know. To biologists, it is funny that organisms across the spectrum developed a strategy of being totally unconscious for extended periods of time.
We’re so vulnerable.
If it was possible to go without sleep, some organism would have found it and quickly raced to the top of the food chain.
So no. Sleep is performing so incredibly vital function… though scientists are still puzzled about what that function actually is.
Still, I feel like it’s kinda safe to say that sleep is when your mind relaxes and rejuvenates (aware that ‘mind’ ‘relax’ and ‘rejuvenate’ aren’t particularly clear concepts in this context.)
So is it possible that productive geniuses don’t need to ‘rejuvenate’ their ‘minds’ as much as the rest of us?
I would argue that it’s possibly true.
One of the hall-marks of productivity is focus. Rather than carrying around a bunch of ideas in their heads, maybe geniues carry just one, and this takes much less of a toll on the mind.
How much of your mind-tiredness comes from just having too many things to think about? Having a cluttered head?
Geniuses are also inspired and driven.
That means they probably don’t need to exercise much will-power to keep their minds on task.
If you’ve got to sit in front of a computer screen, doing stuff you hate, it takes enormous will power to not just get up and walk away.
Exercising that kind of will power makes your mind tired, in my experience.
So if they’re inspired and doing something they love, it makes sense that they don’t need to refresh their minds as much as the rest of us mere mortals.
So I’m not sure about this whole ‘sleep of genius’ story.
It seems quite possible to me that living and inspired life, with intense focus, doing something you love, is a naturally energising way to live. You probably just don’t need all that much sleep.
That’s my theory.
And if it’s true, then before we start punishing ourselves with a brutal sleep regime, we should make sure that we’re inspired and given over to work we love.
This always has to be our starting point.