I recently read a summary of the book “The way we’re working isn’t working” by Tony Schwartz. What I found interesting was how strongly the author pointed out the importance of sleep on our performance in anything we do.
We have about a 50-55 hour workweek, waking up right before work (without breakfast) working from 8-5 and coming home to a busy world with our phones and TV constantly turned on, making dinner, watching TV, browsing the web, and going to sleep way too late. We don’t work like computers – at high speed. for long periods of time, running multiple programs at once. People even brag about their lack of sleep and say they don’t need that much cause they are so busy… we’ll my experience is that those people aren’t very productive or creative.
This lack of respect for our bodies has only served to undermine the quality, creativity and thoughtfulness of our work.
The importance of sleep first caught my attention when I watched Arianna Huffington’s TedTalk a few years back. In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night’s sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness — and smarter decision-making.
When we look at Anders Ericsson’s incredibly interesting study, from way back in 1993, designed to explore the practice pattern among violinists. Ericsson looked at 30 young violinists at the music academy of Berlin and put them into 3 groups.
1.The great violinists (those destined to become soloists)
2. The good violinists (those destined to become orchestra members)
3. The mercifully named “third group” (those destined to become music teachers)
What Ericsson found out was that the top 2 groups averaged about 24 hours of practice each week while the third group averaged around 9 hours… multiply the difference by 52 weeks and around 25 years and you can see why there is a difference.
But the AMAZING thing is that it doesn’t end here like some people might have thought.
The top 2 groups almost always practiced for at least 3,5 hours a day but split that up into no more than 90 minute sessions with breaks between sessions. Additionally they slept for 8,6 hours on average a day and took almost 3 hours a week to nap! While the third group slept for 7,8 hours a day.
This is something that we should take into account in our schools and classrooms today. I think we should have break periods in our day to help us relax and be more creative and produce more quality work. This is one of the reasons I incorporate Yoga for Kids in my 2nd grade classroom. Sleep is very important and as studies show, more important than we thought before.
“It’s not about the amount of work we finish but the quality of work we enjoy.” – Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson