When I’m developing customized sleep plans for my patients a lot of times people are focused on an end result of sleeping eight hours per night.
The evidence based solutions I utilize are a series of small steps which are implemented over time and then finely tuned in a stepwise fashion. Progress is never linear in terms of total sleep time (TST). And even though I also share the goal of helping my patients to get what they want I think the most valuable end point is feeling rested throughout the day.
One of the fulfilling but challenging aspects of my job is teaching people that quantity of sleep is not the holy grail, it’s quality of sleep. I could honestly wax on about this for hours.
Today I heard a wonderful metaphor for this while listening to the @timferriss podcast as he hosted @sethgodin
Seth was describing a strategy for teaching people to juggle. In the beginning, most students will put their effort towards the goal of not dropping the balls. When Seth teaches he asks students to only practice throwing a single ball and to deliberately let it hit the ground. It is only after 20-40 minutes that he’ll advance the process. He teaches this way because the key to not dropping a ball is throwing well. When the ball is thrown well, catching it just happens.
His method for learning to juggle is a metaphor for being divorced from the outcome. Throwing can be writing, practicing a sport, or anything we aspire to do well. In that approach we learn resilience from throwing – from not trying to control the end result whether it’s juggling, winning a race, or getting a good night of sleep.
This mindset is one of the reasons that trying to buy a good night of sleep by way of a pillow, mattress, or gadget will never be a magic bullet. Focus on quality and the quantity will come. Everything you need to sleep well is already right inside of you. #neurobiology