Getting better at getting better is what Rise With Drew is all about.

Monday through Thursday, we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations. On Friday, I share something about myself or what we at PCI are doing in our quest to earn a spot on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

To optimize our sleep, philosopher Brian Johnson suggests we impose a curfew. Not the kind we give our teenagers. Instead, a curfew on ourselves.

Brian has read and summarized more than 600 books as part of his Philosopher’s Notes. Of all the books he’s read, his overall #1 recommendation is Why We Sleep by sleep expert Dr. Matthew Walker. This week we’ve been looking at the impact of insufficient sleep in our schools and in our workplaces, as outlined in Matthew’s book.  

Brian used to view sleep as one of the pillars to living an optimized life, along with eating, moving, and breathing. Today, he believes sleep is the foundation on which all the other pillars rest. Because not getting enough sleep has a detrimental impact on all other areas of our life.  

Brian asks: What gets in the way of optimizing our sleep? Turns out there is a long list.  

First, we don’t value sleep. We don’t go to bed at a consistent time. We stare at our LED-powered devices late into the night, making it harder for us to fall asleep and get high-quality sleep. We are anxious. We are hyped up from too much caffeine and/or nicotine. We eat too close to our bedtime or exercise late into the night. Then, some of us attempt to counteract these negative drivers by taking sleeping pills that do not provide natural sleep, can damage our health, and increase the risk of life-threatening diseases.

What’s the best strategy to counteract these bad habits? A series of small, intelligent decisions. Which is where the idea of a curfew comes in. 

Brian suggests the following “curfews”: 

  • We have our last cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage at 12 noon
  • We define a specific time when we will stop working each night
  • Brian refers to this practice as “shutdown complete”  
  • We stop eating 4-hours before bedtime
  • We stop exercising 3-hours before bedtime
  • We stop looking at screens a minimum of 1-hour before bedtime, and preferably 2-hours or more.

Brian calls this final recommendation a “digital sunset,” and it is the one about which he feels most strongly. Because the LED light that powers our laptop screens, smartphones, and tablets suppresses our melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep and reducing the amount of REM or dream sleep we get.  

Relaxing, reading a book, and taking a bath are smart alternatives to staring at our screens.  

I participated in Brian’s year-long Optimize Mastery program two years ago. As a result, I’ve become much more intentional about creating good sleep habits by following Brian’s five curfews.

More next week!


Reflection: Am I getting enough quality sleep? If not, which of Brian’s curfews would I like to try out?

Action: Do it.

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