Sleep is an underrated factor in your Financial Independence journey

Woman Sleeping in a comfy looking bed

You need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function properly

Americans and their poor sleep

Sleep is such an underrated commodity. Yet, according to the CDC, 35% of American adults sleep less than 7 hours a day.

1/3 of the population is NOT sleeping enough!

And I know that there has been a pretty good media blitz the past many years around sleeping and how beneficial it is to your health to get between 7-9 hours.

Yet, I believe that our society still doesn’t prioritize sleep and other aspects of our well being enough as a real factor on our productivity and decision making.

It’s not just my opinion either…

Fatigue has a massive economic impact, costing employers billions of dollars a year. It’s estimated that reductions in productivity, motivation, and health care costs related to fatigue cost individual employers around $1,967 annually per employee12. When these losses in productivity are added up, fatigue at work costs U.S. companies around $136.4 billion dollars a year13.

The Link Between Sleep and Job Performance – Sleep Foundation

And that is just what they estimate…a $136.4 billion in economic impact a year.

Or for a personal example, when I was in the middle of selling my company, I would often take a red eye flight to New York City, Uber to my hotel, check-in and shower, before heading out to 8 straight hours of meetings and pitches followed by an “important” dinner of some sort with potential buyers or investment bankers.

Then I’d get a small amount of sleep after all of that, and get up and do it again the next day before flying home.

I often wondered, why our society does this? We are flying in for important meetings, but then running ourselves dry on sleep/exhaustion?

How can we possibly always think we’ll be at our peak performance for these types of things?

How can you sleep 5-6 hours a night and not have it be a detriment to your body and your performance in some way, shape or form?

The answer: You can’t sleep less than 7 hours and not have it be to your detriment.

This study provides, for the first time, evidence that insufficient sleep restoration over circumscribed cortical areas leads to aberrant behavior.

Insufficient sleep: Enhanced risk‐seeking relates to low local sleep intensityAnnals of Neurology

More studies are piling up that show that not only do we need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but that we are actually enhancing our risk-seeking behavior by sleeping less than 7 hours.

Personally, I tried not to do the whole red-eye thing very often and otherwise would aim for 8 hours of a sleep a night, but there is no doubt that majority of our society functions like this all the time.

The real benefits of sleep…

The real life benefits of a good night’s sleep are numerous.

I for one, feel sharper, more able to take on the day. Overall I feel healthier and happier when I am sleeping well.

WebMD outlines the Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep:

  • “Sharper Brain”
  • “Mood Boost”
  • “Healthier Heart”
  • “Athletic Achievement”
  • “Steadier Blood Sugar”
  • “Germ Fighting”
  • “Weight Control”

They sum it up with “Your best bet is to shoot for 7-8 hours of slumber each night for peak health benefits.”

And I can attest that this is all true.

I can notice after a streak of poor night’s sleep just how much my body actually needs and wants that 7-8 hours. For me it comes in the form of headaches, grogginess, aggravation, and weight gain.

When my kids were younger and not sleeping through the night, I gained the most weight that I have in my life.

Then, when they settled in and slept longer, I was able to shed the 15-20 pounds that I had gained during their infant years. And I didn’t change my diet, or my overall stress levels. Sleep was the only differentiator.

But the pendulum is shifting towards more and better sleep

Like I said at the beginning of the article. There has been a solid media blitz around sleep. We all now know that between 7-9 hours of sleep is best.

And even Elon Musk, who runs multiple companies and is notorious for working formerly working 120 hour weeks (now 80-90 hour weeks) has embraced sleeping more in sleep:

“I tried sleeping less, but then total productivity decreases,” Musk explains.”

Elon Musk Just Explained How He Thinks About Sleep, and So Should You – Inc

And if you do further google searches, you can find a plethora of evidence that sleep is a factor for many of the world’s richest from Warren Buffett to Jeff Bezos:

Warren Buffett likes to sleep. He says he usually sleeps a full eight hours a night. He reportedly wakes up at 6:45 a.m. and starts his day reading newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Having a set morning routine can help jump-start your day. Here’s how 9 billionaires start their mornings. – Business Insider

Jeff Bezos has been a huge proponent for 8 hours of sleep and this article has some good nuggets here in The math behind Jeff Bezos’ 8 hours of sleep—and why he says going ‘crazy’ with 4 hours isn’t worth it.

Sleep is the underrated factor in your wealth creation

So no matter where you are on your journey to Financial Independence or Retirement, the answer to many of your problems is quite simple.

If you want to make better decisions, be in a better mood, become healthier, or generally improve your overall life, sleep is the answer.

If you want to earn more money, get more sleep.

If you want to make better spending decisions, get more sleep.

If you want to become a better investor, get more sleep.

If you want to be a happier person, get more sleep.

If you want to put your body to the test in any way, and/or become healthier, start with sleep.

Sleep is the answer my friends.

Now, as for me, I got pretty tired after writing this post, so I think it may be time for a nap!

PS: I use this Coop Home Goods – Premium Adjustable Pillow. It comes with extra stuffing and a ziplock back, so that you can add/remove to your preferences. This is the best night sleep I have ever had with this pillow. We have bought the same pillows that they use at Four Seasons Hotels before, and this pillow is better. Highly recommend!

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  1. This is one of my favorite articles. I was so naïve in high school and college thinking I would be more productive pulling all-nighters to get more work done. Looking back, I realize how counterproductive my actions were and how much it negatively affected my health. Now, I prioritize sleep and preach to everyone around me that “if the richest people on Earth prioritize 8 hours of sleep, then you certainly have time as well.” Bookmarked this article – fantastic stuff AR!

    1. Thanks Tyler! Yeah I think there is maybe a time and place where you can survive with a few hours of sleep, but they should be few and far between. I’ve actually slept pretty bad this week for me at least…waking up at 3 or 4 am a few days and not being able to fall back asleep. Boy has my mental stamina suffered. Once you get the proper amount of sleep you really can feel that drag when you don’t!

  2. Lack of sleep is one of my biggest downfalls. I’m working on getting more sleep, because I’ve known for a long time that everything you’ve stated is true. There are so many benefits to getting adequate sleep! Interesting that you noted your weight went up when you got less sleep as a young parent without changing anything about your diet. Lack of sleep raises cortisol in the body, which in turn promotes weight gain.

    1. Yeah the weight gain was the more surprising things I ran into in my research, but it correlated with what happened to me.

      One of the biggest changes that I made in order to sleep better, was moving my phone downstairs. We plug our phones in near the front door, as far away from the bedroom as possible. Prior to that, with our phones in our rooms, I would tend to grab at it if there was any chance of me not sleeping. It’s a non-issue now. My body is used to going right to sleep when I hit the pillow.

  3. This was a great post! In my pursuit of FI sometimes I sacrifice sleep. Then I quickly see the results the next day in lack luster performance.

  4. Thanks for the reminder and all the research. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends the past few months, need to get back to my regular healthy sleep routine!

    Cheers! Joel

  5. I’m convinced a lot of sleep needs can be explained by genetics. But I 100% believe that sleep is such an essential and underrated factor that so many people discount.

    I was talking to this girl and she said “sleep is for the defeated”. If that’s the case, I would rather be defeated all day long instead of winning and not sleeping. No thank you.

    Superhumans like Elon Musk’s schedules are not the norm. Even a superhuman like Jeff Bezos loves sleep, as you’ve referenced!

    1. I do think when you’re younger your body probably can handle it a bit more. At least for me that seemed to be the case.

      But I also feel like I can’t handle as much alcohol or even eat as much food as I used to.

      Perhaps it is just more about being more in tune with your body as you get older, but at least since I’ve been a working adult I’ve always needed and wanted more sleep!

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