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Rest enough to do deep work (DW#698)

Before we get to today's DW, a few points of clarification from yesterday:
1) I am NOT a fan of Jeff Bezos
2) I am NOT a fan of Amazon or its oppressive business practices
And I still believe that we can learn from everyone. Although our definition and their definition of success may be vastly different, we can still appreciate the way CEOs of wealthy corporations manage their time and prioritize self-care.

I also wanted to re-iterate how blessed I feel when one or more of you engage with DWs and challenge what is expressed or hold me accountable for my words. When we build a community that cares enough to give valuable feedback and hold each other accountable, it can help us grow and remain humble and authentic - so a huge thank you!

And now, for today's DW!

Have you noticed, that you can get high quality work done in a shorter period of time when you are focused?

Cal Newport in his brilliant book, Deep Work has come up with an equation to explain this:

High Quality Work Produced =...

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Do you have more work to do than Jeff Bezos? (DW#697)

Jeff Bezos, CEO and president of Amazon.com, is one of the wealthiest people on the planet (who happens to be the first person worth over $100 billion). One would imagine running his empire would take quite a bit of time, right?

It appears that successful businesspeople like Jeff Bezos are now beginning to learn just how important sleep is for their well-being (and also for their employees’ wellbeing).

Arianna Huffington writes inThe Sleep Revolution that a lot of the tech companies keeping us up at night via their apps and other blue-light photon generators are now beginning to learn that when their employees are not well-rested, their bottom line begins to suffer.

Here are few examples of successful entrepreneurs that she mentions in the chapter called"Sleep and the Workplace".

1. Jeff Bezos gets eight hours of sleep every night. He told The Wall Street Journal: "I’m more alert and I think more clearly… I just feel so much better all day long if I’ve had...

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Too busy working to get enough sleep? (DW#696)

Do you ever sacrifice sleep because you have too much work to do?

You may want to pay attention to the following: (Talking to myself here).

Research shows that sleep-deprived people have to work way harder than they would have to work if they had a full night’s sleep to power them through their days.

As Mathew Walker explains, it takes twice as long to boil water on medium heat than it does on high heat. And working while you are sleep-deprived is like trying to boil water on medium heat.

Here’s how he puts it: “Under-slept employees are not, therefore, going to drive your business forward with productive innovation. Like a group of people riding stationary exercise bikes, everyone looks like they’re peddling, but the scenery never changes. The irony that employees miss is that when you are not getting enough sleep, you work less productively and thus need to work longer to accomplish a goal. This means you often must work longer and later into the evening,...

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What did you do with the hour you gained last week? (DW#695)

In North America and Western Europe, the end of October/beginning of November signals the switch back from Daylight Saving Time. The clocks go back and we "gain an hour" on Sunday.

While many of us cringe at the coming of Winter and the shorter, darker days, there is a significant statistic that we need to be aware of:

"In the autumn within the Northern Hemisphere, when the clocks move forward and we gain an hour of sleep opportunity time, rates of heart attacks plummet the day after", writes Mathew Walker inWhy we Sleep.

He explains that the opposite is also true of course. Here is how he puts it:

"When communicating science to the general public in lectures or writing, I’m always wary of bombarding an audience with never-ending mortality and morbidity statistics, lest they themselves lose the will to live in front of me. It is hard not to do so with such compelling masses of studies in the field of sleep deprivation. Often, however, a single astonishing result is all the...

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Would you buy this pill? (DW#694)

Imagine you are scrolling through your newsfeed and you come across this ad:

"AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH!

Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings (yes, PLEASE!). It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?"

Some of us would keep scrolling down, not believing the hype. Others may be much too curious (or desperate) and may keep reading, noticing that the organization who published it is not big pharma, out to make millions but instead a well-respected organization.

Matthews writes in Why we Sleep about this advertisement: "While it may sound hyperbolic, nothing about this fictitious advertisement would be inaccurate. If this were...

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Keeping watch while you sleep (DW#693)

Our Creator is simply awesome!

In the animal kingdom, animals need to protect themselves from predators. This means that sleeping would be risky in that they might get attacked, right?

Well interestingly, some actually sleep with half their brain awake while the other half sleeps. As Michael says, "Mother Nature had no choice. Sleep with both sides of the brain, or sleep with just one side and then switch. Both are possible, but sleep you must. Sleep is nonnegotiable."

Here is one example: when birds are alone, they sleep with one eye open. One eye’s open, the other one’s shut—allowing half their brains to sleep while the other half gets a reboot.

Interestingly, when a bunch of birds together, you may observe them line up in a row with the birds on the inside enjoying two-eyes-shut full sleep while the birds on the ends have one eye open and half their brains asleep. Midway through the sleep session the birds on the end will turn the other direction and shut the...

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A biological necessity (DW#692)

Did you know that every single creature that we know of on this planet, sleeps? Even worms?

Matthew Walker, whom we mentioned yesterday, says: "Without exception, every animal species studied to date sleeps, or engages in something remarkably like it. This includes insects, such as flies, bees, cockroaches, and scorpions; fish, from small perch to the larger sharks; amphibians, such as frogs; and reptiles, such as turtles, Komodo dragons, and chameleons. All have a bona fide sleep. Ascend the evolutionary ladder further and we find all types of birds and mammals sleep: from shrews to parrots, kangaroos, polar bears, bats, and, of course, we humans. Sleep is universal."

In other words, living beings are not meant to go on 24/7. We are designed to work best when we get (enough) rest.

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The second pillar of self-care (DW#691)

As we continue our series on self-care, let us remind ourselves that we are keeping it super simple for now.

Instead of making self-care an elaborate and unattainable practice that takes up three hours of our time, we are starting with our most basic needs.

What is the second most basic self-care routine that can have a major impact on our wellbeing?

Sleeping.

To start with, let us reflect on this passage from Matthew Walker’s fantastic book Why We Sleep:

"I was once fond of saying, ‘Sleep is the third pillar of good health, alongside diet and exercise.’ I have changed my tune. Sleep is more than a pillar; it is the foundation on which the other two health bastions sit. Take away the bedrock of sleep, or weaken it just a little, and careful eating or physical exercise become less than effective, as we shall see."

Given that the vast majority of us are sleep deprived these days, doesn’t it make sense to prioritize this as a fundamental of self-care?

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The breathing cheat sheet (DW#690)

[Daily Wisdom #670] The breathing cheat sheet

As we wrap up our first self-care practice of breathing, let us remind ourselves of what we discussed:

[DW #675] Attend to the basics of self-care

[DW #676] Remember the three golden rules of breathing

[DW #677] Breathe Through Your Nose (all the time!)

[DW #678] Breathe deeply

[DW #679]Exhale for longer

[DW #680] Flip the switch on stress

[DW #681] Slow down

[DW #682] Breathe into your belly

[DW #683] Notice the impatience

[DW #684] Take breathing breaks

[DW #685] Balance your mind

[DW #686] Establish your baseline

[DW #687] Breathe vertically rather than horizontally

[DW #688] Distinguish breath awareness and intentional breathing

[DW #689] Boost your willpower using your breath

As always, I would love to hear from you. How has using these practices impacted your life? Which of these practices do you find the most useful? The most challenging?

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A quick way to boost willpower (DW#689)

Did you know that one of the quickest ways to boost your willpower is to slow down your breathing rate?

Kelly McGonigal is a leading expert on the science of willpower. Here is how she talks about breathing in her seminal work, The Willpower Instinct:"You won’t find many quick fixes in this book, but thereis one way to immediately boost willpower: Slow your breathing down to four to six breaths per minute. That’s ten to fifteen seconds per breath—slower than you normally breathe, but not difficult with a little bit of practice and patience. Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique will make you feel calm, in control, and capable of handling cravings or challenges."

Pretty cool right? So, the next time you need a boost of willpower, to resist that cookie perhaps, try slowing down your breathing before...

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