The Snooze Test: 10 Things You Could Do With An Extra 9 Minutes Instead of Sleep

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At a recent lunch with colleagues our conversation got around to the subject of sleep.  We’re all running hard, intensely focused and super competitive.  Sleep often times takes a back burner to other more pressing needs like delivering for a client, hitting the number, or providing coaching to a team-mate.

As we traded sleep stories – are you a good sleeper, bad sleeper, restless sleeper – we arrived at the humorous topic of snoozing.  That standard, commonly accepted, always expected “extra” 9 minutes of sleep you can get simply by hitting a button.  The delay button.  Let’s face it, that’s all you’re doing when you hit it.  You’re delaying the inevitable.  Getting up, getting started, getting ready, and getting on with your day.

I’ve never been a “snoozer”.  Most mornings I’m up around 5 am without an alarm – it’s just how I’m wired.  But if I were a snoozer, what might I gain by not snoozing? What could I do with that “extra” 9 minutes rather than sleep?  What could I accomplish?  Here are some ideas, not in any order of priority:

  1. Meditate – spending just 15 minutes each day meditating produces huge benefits.
  2. Read – a book, the paper, scan your social channels, know what’s going on around you
  3. Exercise – most sources indicate the average calorie burn is 9 calories for every minute of moderate exercise.  A 9 minute walk burns 81 calories.
  4. Self Reflection – different from meditation, self-reflection peers into how your actions have produced the outcomes you’re currently experiencing.
  5. Time with loved ones – sure you may say, “hey no one else is up at this time”, but if they are, spending the time with them will provide benefits far greater than what you gain from snoozing a bit longer.
  6. Chores – You’re thinking, “I’m going to give up my sleep to do laundry?” The fact is, household chores that build up lead to greater degrees of stress.  The quicker you can reduce the list of what needs to be done the easier it is to find your Zen.
  7. Love your four-legged friends – play with, and love your animals. Studies have found that playing with your pets increases the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Imagine what it does for them?
  8. Eat – breakfast is for kings, lunch is for queens, and dinner is for – you get the point.  breakfast is the most important, yet most missed meal of the day.  It’s like leaving the house with an empty gas tank and hoping to drive 300 miles.  Doesn’t work out so well (unless you’re driving a Tesla).
  9. Share a quick thought on social media – your goal for the day, a thought, insight, or perspective.
  10. Spiritual activity – anything you do that makes you feel whole, or connected by way of faith.

Years ago I heard a conversation between two elderly people at the gym one morning.  One man said, “What I wouldn’t have done to get a little more sleep this morning”, to which the other man replied “We’ll have all the time in the world to sleep when we’re dead.”  So true.  Live life.

5 Investments You Should Make in Yourself Today

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Your mind and body are indeed your most valuable assets.  Most people would say their home.  And while on paper that may be true, without your mind and body nothing else matters.  Here are 5 investments you should make to strengthen both:

  1. Read – Your brain is the most important organ in your body, controlling all bodily functions including your muscles and other organs.  Reading, especially fiction, improves your brain connectivity and function according to a recent Emory University study.  In addition to the health contribution reading has on your brain, it also helps in developing your thinking skills, perspective, and decision making skills by filling your brain with more ideas and insights.
  2. Exercise – Study after study, year after year, we know that exercising each day produces huge benefits for the body, mind, and soul.  According to WebMD, the body’s release of endorphins caused by exercise increases self-esteem, reduces the perception of pain, and creates a positive feeling in your body. Knowing this, how could anyone argue against the value of exercise?  If you’re working out now, great job.  Continue.  If you’re not exercising now, start with just 30 minutes, 3 days a week.  A walk, a jog, push-ups, whatever you chose but start.
  3. Pay it Forward –  Time is your most scarce resource.  Some people horde it.  Others squander it.  I’d suggest you invest it in others.  I spend hours each week with people in my network.  I’ve helped countless friends and associates with resumes, interviewing tips, sales strategies, branding practices, and other areas where my expertise can add value to them.  I am most excited, most engaged, most rewarded when I know I’ve helped someone improve and develop themselves.  For me, paying it forward creates a feeling of pride, improves self-confidence and raises self-esteem.
  4. Clothing – Here’s a tricky one. Remember the saying, “dress for the job you want”?  Whether you like it or not we’re a society of first impressions.  That means that what you wear does matter.  You don’t need to break the bank for a good look.  Guys, you don’t need a dozen suits in your closet.  You can alter the look of one suit with ties.  One black, or blue suit, has endless possibilities by changing your tie.  Ladies, same thing for you with the exception of accessories.  Pins, necklaces, blouses can quickly change the look of a single suit.  If you’re working in a more casual environment dress “crisply”.  Pressed shirts, nice jeans or kakis, etc. Remember, work is still work, not a party, not a social gathering.
  5. Accessories – Everything from glasses, watches, briefcases, portfolios, pens, earrings, jewelry (not too much), pocket squares, cuff links, and shoes.  This is another area where investing in just one or two accessories can make a big difference.