Today I want to write directly to my peak performers, the highly ambitious men who look for every way possible to accomplish their goals. I received a question from a brother in the group who has an important thing I know a lot of you struggle with. He said,
“J.K, a few months ago you mentioned conditioning your brain to achieve the maximum amount of REM sleep on around four hours of sleep per night. I want to achieve a similar sleep cycle at some point in my life, too. You brought it up in an old podcast episode. How did you achieve this? Does age play a role in your ability to do it? Do you have any resources you recommend?”
Fantastic question. Many of us high performers want to know what we can do to maximize our results on a minimal amount of sleep. Before getting to the answer, though, I want to ask you what your purpose is for cutting down those hours. Why do you want to get so little sleep? Is your schedule so tight that you truly need to sacrifice your rest? Or are you using it to compensate for another area where you’re slacking off?
Why do you want to cut back on sleep?
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of your overall health. An endless sea of research proves this to us, brother. It impacts your physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being. Not getting enough sleep leads to poor work performance, limited focus, decreased emotional resilience, and more. It should never be the first thing on the chopping block, especially for men early in their reboot who are still susceptible to emotional dysregulation.
I suggest you start by looking for areas where you can trim the fat during your waking hours instead. I guarantee you can find at least a few ways you’re wasting time throughout the day. Even though I suggest cutting most extraneous media from your life, I see many brothers still use social media or watch TV when they complete their tasks for the day. Do you scroll a little too far through Instagram or Twitter, or watch an extra episode of television here and there?
Maybe you’re not as efficient as you could be with your work or at the gym. Be honest with yourself. Neglecting sleep because you can’t control yourself during the day is not a good enough reason to try sleeping four hours per night. Step up and be responsible enough to limit your distractions and that should leave you with more time for sleep at night.
If you’re still determined to sleep four hours a night, I also want you to consider what you’re doing with that extra time. Are you squandering it by spreading yourself thin between too many different activities? When I trained myself to get good rest on four hours of sleep, I did it because I was laser-focused on a single task. I had a project I was passionate about at the time. It consumed so much of my focus and I wanted to spend all my waking hours working on it. I used my extra time to dive deeper into this one particular project.
Too often I see men who want to limit their sleep so they can divide their passion between their work, a writing project, a side hustle, a hobby, and time with their family. But by trying to funnel their energy into so many different areas, they ended up wasting that extra time they got when cutting back on rest instead of making good use of it. It wasn’t worth all of the negative effects that so little sleep had on them.
Types of men who can successfully cut back on sleep
I’m not trying to say that it’s impossible, brother. As our brother mentioned when he asked his question, I’ve done it successfully myself multiple times over the years. But it isn’t a beneficial practice for everyone and it’s not the best long-term solution, either. There are certain types of people who can function optimally on only a few hours of sleep. These include:
- People with a specific genetic disposition
- People in certain professions (e.g., military or first responders)
- People who want to focus on one particular area
- People with some mental illnesses
Specific genetic dispositions
Through my research, I’ve found that some people have a genetic predisposition to functioning well on little sleep. I like to refer to it as the “short sleep” gene. It’s called the D.C. 2 mutation and it allows people who have it to feel very well rested to four hours of sleep. They feel as fine as others do with the 8 or 9 hours we’re all supposed to get. It has no negative effects on their heart, organs, or mental performance, either.
There’s also another naturally-occurring genetic predisposition called the A.D.R.B. 1 gene that has similar effects. A few examples of some people who may have the short sleep gene include Donald Trump and Martha Stuart. Both have a lifelong history of short sleep from an early age yet still have tremendous success in their lives.
People in certain professions, such as military soldiers, first responders, or surgeons, also learn to function optimally on limited or interrupted sleep. They train themselves to sleep less over the years because it’s necessary for success in their career. Their lives are on the line without finely tuning the need for fewer hours of sleep.
This is especially true of units like the Navy Seals or the Army Green Berets who are on missions that affect their lives and the lives of others. They train professionally through the U.S. military, a highly effective organization with hundreds of years of experience implementing this practice. Look up Jocko Willick and David Goggins, two great examples of men who learned to function optimally on little sleep.
Precise, determined focus
The third type of people who can function well on less sleep is those who want to get more done. They aren’t mindlessly filling their time with more things, though; they stay up because of a precise, determined focus on one thing. There is one thing they want to accomplish that is worth losing sleep over. They have one big goal they’re focused on that enables them to maintain an obsessive level of self-belief, self-discipline, and intense drive despite losing sleep.
I’m not talking about the guys who use their limited number of sleep hours as a marketing tool. I know you have at least one or two people who come to mind that constantly try to prove what hard workers they are by bragging about their lack of sleep. These men are not included in this section; it’s not a badge of honor to sacrifice sleep. It’s only useful when you’re truly disciplined and focused in your areas of expertise, like Tony Robbins or Cameron Haynes, a practiced bow hunter and ultra-marathon runner.
People with some types of mental illness are another example of getting by on limited hours of sleep. I don’t want to dive too deeply into this area because it’s not directly related to our brother’s question, but it’s worth mentioning. So get porn addiction recovery program
People with bipolar disorder tend to have difficulties with sleeping brought about by their mental illness. During their manic or hypomanic episodes, they are often unusually productive while sleeping only three or four hours at a time. However, they struggle when their mood shifts to depressive episodes, and oftentimes they backtrack on the progress they made in their manic state.
Is sacrificing sleep worth it for you?
Still, getting limited sleep for long periods is detrimental to your health for most normal individuals. Research shows that poor sleep leads to lasting health effects that impact you long after you return to a normal sleep schedule. People who train themselves specifically for the practice may still experience some delayed health effects; only time will tell there.
The brother who asked the question mentioned he wants to do more things, including gardening, working out, spending time with his family, working on some writing projects, and a few other personal projects. He would fall into the third category, same as me, save for one crucial detail: he doesn’t have an unwavering focus on a single area. He’s trying to do too many things at once. Unless he chooses to eliminate all but one of those things, his lack of sleep will likely only be a detriment to his performance.
Men often operate on the illusion of balance. They believe that they’ll always be able to have a balanced life. I think that’s what drives my high performers to want to get by on limited sleep. But here’s the thing, brother: balance is an illusion. You’ll never achieve a perfectly-balanced life.
Instead, there are different seasons for different things. There is a season for building your life back up, such as improving your social skills and developing your physique. There is a season for dating or for strengthening your existing relationship. There is a season for building wealth, a season for advancing your career, and a season for launching your side hustle.
None of this happens without a system, though. You need a proven path to achieve your goals, or to even establish them in the first place. You’ve spent months, years, or decades aimlessly spinning around trying to latch onto whatever shiny object passes your way. And if you’re still doing that, you’re going to struggle when trying to cut back on your sleep.
If you’re a regular guy with a regular life, even if you’re one of my highest performers, I want you to think for a while and be rigorously honest with yourself before deciding to limit your rest. What are you doing it for and are there other ways to find more time in your day? If you can’t provide good answers for either question, it might not be time for you to sacrifice sleep just yet. Continue with your reboot process and reconsider the option later down the line instead.