A fair amount of research shows that being sleep deprived, even by just a few hours a night, quickly adds up into significant impairment in your performance1. Getting enough sleep is one of the major natural performance enhancers that you can obtain for yourself, and it costs almost nothing.
Over the past week or so I’ve been having somewhat more success with my sleep than normal. The Beeminder goal that I set up to track how many hours of good sleep my FitBit reports is the key, and for an unexpected reason: yes, it does help to make me more aware of my sleep and want to avoid costing myself money, but more importantly it has given me a reason to sleep more if I miss my target.
Before, if I woke up and felt like crap I would blame it on my poor self discipline and soldier on through my day tired and less effective. Now that there’s money on the line, I have to address that deficit or risk derailing, and that has given me the option to say, “Yes, I may be bad at getting to sleep on time but what matters now is that I get enough sleep. I’m going back to bed.” Because of this I’m more rested and I feel better about it, and even bedtime is more of a hard line than it was before.
So, if you’re having trouble with sticking to your nominal sleep schedule I highly recommend committing to at least 8 hours a night. You’ll find it works in unexpected ways.