We had so many fantastic, insightful, and inspiring entries for The Sleep Advantage contest. Thank you to everyone for all the thoughtful entries.
Picking two winners was *very* difficult.
But after lots of reading and thinking, I chose the winners early this morning.
Anyway, if you get a chance, it would mean a lot to me if you could take a quick sec and congratulate the winners in the comments section below.
Winning Entry #1
Every day that I wake up tired is a day where I am working in reactive mode, and am just trying to catch up. And it’s not just in one place...it’s everywhere, all over, and all day.
At the office where I have to be creative and use design and innovation to solve huge problems, convince CEOs that innovating around the primary user is the most important, and aligning all members of the team to reach our goal.
Being tired makes all of that a lot harder to get done, in a lot more, less efficient time, and less convincing to those around me. As if juggling that moment where my career is really taking off and my toddler needs me around me, not less, where not enough to handle on 8 hours asleep...imagine tackling that load with anything less than your very best...all the time.
And I know I am not alone, I am lucky to have a partner in life who is exactly that, a partner. But fortunately for us (and boy, do I know its fortunate) he is ALSO at that crux point in his career and also has a toddler who needs him more, not less (its the same adorable one!).
When I think about what I need to accomplish every day, it's astounding. And when I am rested and able to tackle it all, I feel like there is no other life I would rather be living. I am happy to call it my own. That is important to me because I am owning my life when I feel refreshed and relaxed.
If I am not refreshed or relaxed, or even remotely close to some adjective that describes either of these two states, then my day could very well be a novel, or at least a chapter in a dark thriller. Everyone seems to be less happy, more needy, unsatisfied with the breakfast of choice that day, and anything from there is just downhill.
I always thought of myself has someone who had the plan nailed down. But then a lot more things appeared on my plate, and I am just not sure what strategy I need now to get back into the "owning" it phase. I imagine all the things a day could include - lunch with a friend (who are they?), the gym, a walk after work with said toddler (perhaps run is more descriptive)...and a general plan to help all three of us reach the end of the week, not depleted, not all i want to do is hide in the comfort of my bed until i am forced by small, prying fingers to come out again, but bouncing, jumping, and ready to present ourselves for a Tide commercial.
Winning Entry #2
I will use the power of contrast to say why it is important to wake up feeling refreshed.
When I have a poor night's sleep, I find details slip out of my mind quickly and I can't keep on top of my busy workplace as easily. I find I crave sugar. I have a shorter fuse and little things bother me more than they should. I find I am more prone to tears. When I have a great sleep, I can handle unexpected changes, challenges and conflicts more professionally.
If I got enough sleep, my life would no longer be punctuated by the phrase "I can't remember anything the closer I get to 50." I hate saying that, but it seems to be true. I think it has to do with my deteriorating sleep patterns since age 45.
I would be able to accomplish more by being more capable, more open to accepting the workplace changes that inevitably come my way, learn more easily and stay at the top of my game longer.
I am still hanging on - but it seems more forced and requires more effort than it did in the past. I am more experienced, worldly and skilled than ever - I want to be able to show that without bags under my eyes and droopy lids at 2:30 PM.
Here is what I have learned about success in life: it is not about what you know.
Or how materially successful you are. Or how flawlessly you perform. Or how often you win. Or fame or accolades or stature.
To me, for me, success is how powerfully present I can be to each situation I find myself in. How courageously I stand in my own feelings without wavering or trying to shut them down. How fully I show up - not just physically - but with every fiber of my being. How sensitively I pay attention to my own true responses to situations. And how respectfully I face each opportunity.
Here's is what I have learned about myself and sleep: I cannot do ANY of the above when I am physically tired.
To show up so fully in life this way requires my full energy and when I have not slept well, I cannot show up with the creativity and engagement that life demands.
So, for me, the answer to the question of Why is it important to wake up feeling refreshed, restored, and ready to take on the world? is that there is no other way to take on the world. Anything less is, literally, sleepwalking. And, for me, the richness of life calls us to be awake. Fully, completely, awake.
Harvard Business Review contributor and author