Going back about as far as I can remember I’ve struggled with sleep. I’ve never given it much thought because I always just kind of got on with things regardless of how much (or how little) sleep I was getting.
Through therapy I discovered I might have a phobia of sleep. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will regularly see me awake and posting until I basically can’t stay awake any longer. I fight it for as long as I can and I find my anxiety levels massively increase if I reflect on how long I was asleep when I wake up. This is exacerbated pretty intensely by my medication making me drowsy and needing to nap quite regularly. It resulted in a small crisis the other night when I felt like I was letting myself down by not being awake at the most opportune times for me to advertise work to people (I’m yet to find a free Twitter and Instagram scheduling app that I like using).
For months, maybe even a couple of years now, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of not needing sleep because it somehow means I’ll be less successful if I sleep as much as I need to. Reinforced by the amount of people on social media who talk about how they’re always grinding/hustling/working, I find myself comparing my perceived work rate with how those people present themselves, which is very understandably detrimental in both how it impacts my mental health and my overall motivation levels.
Shortly after my crisis, I was awake and writing the blogs I posted on Thursday and Friday until around 4am. I tweeted after finishing those that I’m starting to realising it’s more to do with how we use our time when we’re awake. The next day Gary Vee posted the image below.
This made me realise that, at times, sleep isn’t “avoiding The Hustle” but is instead part of it. How useful am I to myself, to my creative process, to my marketing approach, if I’m depriving myself of sleep? Constantly being awake doesn’t somehow result in success. If you’re awake for 20 hours a day and can only manage to concentrate well enough to complete four high-quality hours of work, then by many people’s definition of The Hustle you’ve not utilised those remaining 16 hours.
At present I’m sleeping around 8-12 hours a day but still managing to fit in 5-8 very high quality hours of work-related output. Right now it isn’t always things my customers or followers will see, I’ll be making lists, researching new distribution channels, new suppliers, new product/packaging ideas. I’ll sometimes spend a whole day just thinking about how to act next. To me, that’s adding value to my brand. The changes I made, which I detailed the other day, came from social media engagement and a whole day of thinking of ways to act on the responses I received and conversations I had.
It’s taken me a while to reach this point, but I’m trying to remind myself not to shoehorn myself into a routine that doesn’t suit me just because it works for somebody else.