Is Sleep Only for Broke People?

I’ve always enjoyed being a night owl and then sleeping-in but now that I have a baby daughter and a job, I don’t get to sleep much past 7am. My problem is, though, I still like staying up late.

My wife often says, “Why don’t you just go to bed at a normal time like the rest of us? Maybe you won’t be so tired in the morning.”

Because that’s boring – plus, when would I get important things done like reading or blogging (or playing video games)?

The answer is: I wouldn’t – and that would be a bummer. So, like usual, I’ve been staying up late, occasionally getting to sleep by 11 if I’m particularly tired (or if I’m afraid my daughter will be waking up multiple times that night, as she is wont to do). Then, a few days ago, my buddy posts this video on his Facebook wall:

Did you catch the part where 50 Cent is quoted as saying, “Sleep is for people who are broke. I don’t sleep.”?

I did – and I can’t get it out of my head.

Ever since I watched that video, and rewatched it a few times, I’ve been thinking about this idea of a focus and determination that is so strong that I would give up sleep to be successful at it. One could say that I was almost obsessed with the idea and when I’m obsessed with an idea I’m constantly on the lookout for new information about it. That’s about the time that I saw a new blog post by Seth Godin.

The blog post is “Time doesn’t scale.” In it he argues that people who put in extra hours for a job soon find that there are only 24 hours in a day and when you reach that limit your time spent working can no longer afford you an advantage.

So, I’m torn. In one hand, I have determination, drive, passion, inspiration, and ambition that say “this is your one, single goal and focus; do anything and everything you can to accomplish it.”

In the other I have intentionality, planning, and forethought that say, “Don’t waste time on unimportant tasks, think about what you’re doing so you can do it well, do it creatively and do it right the first time.”

What if, though, I combined what I have in both hands? What if I have enough drive, passion, and inspiration to make a certain goal my number one priority and have enough intentionality, forethought, and planning to make sure the actions that I’m taking towards this goal are creative, thought-out, and done well? I imagine I could achieve just about anything that I want.

But, let’s go back to the original question for a moment, “Is sleep only for people who are broke?”

Yes, I think it is and here’s why: If you value sleep more than you value being successful (in whatever way that happens to be), then you probably don’t want it bad enough. Earlier in the video the speaker said that being successful needs to be more important to you than breathing – and we can all agree that breathing is more important than sleeping.

To Seth’s point, however, you’re not going to get anywhere by just grinding away at a job for long hours to the detriment of your family and social life. You need to combine your passion with your skills and plug them into creative, thoughtful work that accomplishes more in less time.

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter? Or maybe, when was the last time you were so absorbed in something that you forgot to eat for a while?