The Most Underrated "Hack" For Better Health, Fitness And Performance

Imagine I would offer you a pill that improved your cognitive abilities, reduced your stress, and made you more creative and productive…

… all while helping you lose weight, look more athletic, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, and cancer, and increase your lifespan.

There are no side effects and it’s free.

Would you be open to that?

And how would you react if you realized society was wired to prevent you from receiving this routine?

While this might sound like a click-bait ad for some overpriced supplement, a procedure that grants these benefits exist.

It comes naturally to you and you don’t even have to spend money on it.

I’m of course not talking about some magic pill, but an essential part of human life:


Despite all these incredible benefits, however, sleep deprivation is rampant: 

One out of two adults in industrialized countries doesn’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night.

Scientists have convicted studies that show sleep has declined by 1-2 hours over the past 50 years – with disastrous effects…

Short-term deprivation leads to:

  • Higher risk of injury

  • Higher risks of accidents

  • Higher food consumption

  • Reduced insulin sensitivity

  • Higher stress responsiveness

  • Impaired exercise performance

  • Increased inflammation markers

As a result, you have more cravings for foods (which you’re likely to act on), and less desire to move – let alone exercise.

If you want to lose weight, build muscle, or get stronger, lack of sleep turns it into an uphill battle.

Long-term sleep deprivation increases the risk for severe conditions such as:

  • Cancer

  • Obesity

  • Dementia

  • Depression

  • Heart disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Type-2 Diabetes

There are even reported cases where sleep deprivation was fatal.

Sleep is the number one underutilized way to improve your health and performance.

And while many try, you cannot avoid it – the world record for staying awake is 11 days.

Your body will force you to sleep at some point.

The fact is that you will spend about 20 years of your entire life sleeping!

This is a massive chunk of your lifespan – and not optimizing it is insanity.

This newsletter is all about helping you get the most out of sleep, even if you’re unable to get a solid 8 hours every night.

So let’s dive in, starting with the biggest myth of the 21st century…

Sacrificing sleep does NOT increase productivity

Your physical health is not the only thing that suffers from a lack of sleep:

A study across four large US companies found that insufficient sleep cost almost 2000$ per employee per year through loss in productivity.

A different report by RAND Corporation that investigated the impact of sleep deprivation on industrialized nations found that lack of sleep costs the USA 411 billion $ - per year!

For some countries, it robs them of 2% of their GDP – which is a standard budget for education in developed countries.

Insufficient sleep impairs every marker necessary for sustained productivity:

Creativity, intelligence, motivation, effort, efficiency, effectiveness, and emotional stability.

Just ask yourself when you perform best at work:

Are you motivated to crush your day if you can barely keep your eyes open?

Can you produce high-quality sustainably in a state of exhaustion, deprivation, and fatigue?

Are you an empowering and patient leader towards other people better if you’re chronically stressed?

Does impaired emotional instability benefit your decision-making?

Or do you perform best when well-rested, recovered, and have a clear mind?

Why is sleep deprivation so common, despite its disastrous effects on health and productivity?

Despite the scientific evidence, our modern culture is not supportive of sleep – which is a result of poor perception.

The common thought of sleep is "annoying and a waste of time“ - especially by those who value high performance.

 “More hours worked equals higher productivity“ is a deeply ingrained belief in society, despite the overwhelming data that it’s wrong.

If you’re an entrepreneur or creative who works online, you are aware of influencers celebrating the “hustle“ and grinding for 15 hours straight.

The "I can sleep when I’m dead“ – attitude is seen as productive and admirable, despite the disastrous effects of sleep deprivation.

However, this is not just a phenomenon of social media:

Companies expect workers to respond to emails at midnight.

New doctors are expected to work inhumane hours, despite data showing it’s endangering patients.

Teenagers are forced to sit in school at a time that does not suit their circadian rhythm – with disastrous effects on their productivity and mental health.

Some speculations even suggest that the reactor meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 – an accident caused by human error that caused the death of thousands through long-term effects of radiation poisoning – was caused by sleep deprivation.

We will focus on the individual level in this newsletter because this is what you have the most influence over.

What I want you to be aware of though is that you have to go against the grain to get quality sleep and that as a society, there’s a lot of work we need to do around our perception of sleep.

If you’re interested in the effects of sleep deprivation on society, I’d recommend you to read "Why we sleep“ by Mathew Walker and "Lost Focus“ by Johann Hari.

How to know if your sleep isn’t good enough

Before we dive into my framework to optimize your sleep, let’s look at some questions that help you determine how good your sleep really is:

  • After waking up in the morning, could you fall back asleep at 10 or 11 am?

  • Do you need caffeine before noon to function optimally?

  • If you didn’t set an alarm clock, would you sleep past that time?

If you answered yes to these questions, an increase in sleep duration and/or quality would serve you well.

Here are two other questions that sign of insufficient sleep:

  • Do you find yourself at a screen reading and then re-reading the same sentence?

  • Do you sometimes forget what color the last few traffic lights were while driving?

If you answered yes, this can be a sign that your sleep is not sufficient, because one of the effects of insufficient sleep is a decrease in cognitive function.

Answering these questions regularly will help you to get consistent assessments of your quality of sleep and help you track your progress – which is crucial for any sort of improvement (read this Newsletter if you want to learn why).

The framework for optimal sleep

In this section, I want to give you a framework that will allow you to get the most out of your sleep, even if you can’t clock 8 hours every night.

Most who try to improve their sleep only focus only on the number of hours, but that’s a mistake.

Have you ever experienced nights where you didn’t feel recovered, despite sleeping 8 hours or more?

This is because you did get the recommended amount of hours, but they’ve been of low quality.

The quality of your sleep is crucial as well, especially if you’re in a position where you may not be able to get the recommended hours every night.

Let’s go through the framework!

1 – Commit to making sleep non-negotiable

As already mentioned, prolonged, quality sleep is a rarity in the modern world.

To get it consistently requires a strong commitment to yourself because, without that, you will get pulled away by all the distractions.

Furthermore, it can be a blow to your ego at first if you plan to extend your sleep because you might feel good about "not needing as much sleep“ or you might be afraid that it will impair your productivity.

Here’s what I tell my clients who run their own businesses and value excellence:

STOP looking at sleep as a sacrifice, start seeing it as an investment in yourself.

There’s nothing glorious about trying to cram as many work hours into your day as somehow possible…

… especially if it’s not even getting you to your goals faster AND comes at the cost of your health.

If sleeping one hour more reduces the amount you need to get your work done by two hours, you’ve just improved your productivity.

Productivity isn’t about working longer, it’s about getting towards your goals faster.

Schedule your sleep the same way you would schedule an important block of work.

And yes, there will be days or situations where you won’t be able to stick to it – do what you can.

2 - Duration of sleep

Adults need between 6 and 9 hours of quality sleep per night, the exact amount is individual.

Only 5% of adults need less than 6 hours of sleep and you cannot make up fully for lack of sleep.

It’s a myth that you will "get used“ to sleeping low hours, especially if you use caffeine to mask the effects of sleep deprivation.

While shift workers or health care professionals may not have much flexibility, you do as an online entrepreneur – if you choose to utilize your flexibility as an advantage.


Productivity is NOT about cramming more work hours into your days, it’s about getting towards your goals faster.

If one additional hour of sleep allows you to get your work done in 6 compared to 8 hours, that’s a great deal by itself…

… and we don’t even have the vastness of health benefits included!

If you’re in a position where you can’t get sleep during the week, sleeping longer on weekends can be beneficial, even though it cannot fully compromise 

For example, a study showed a 45% improvement in insulin sensitivity for participants who left 6-hour-sleep nights during the week followed by 10 hours on weekends.

3 – Consistent sleep cycles

The body follows an inner clock, also called the Circadian rhythm which regulates when it’s time for you to go to sleep and when you’re ready for peak performance.

To get the most out of your sleep, align yourself with this clock.

This makes it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up in the morning refreshed, without dragging morning fatigue throughout your work day.

More than that, you will also improve the quality of your sleep by making sure to get the most out of both types of sleep:

  • Non–REM ("Rapid Eye Movement“) sleep, which is vital for you to recover

  • REM sleep, which is shown to be important for creativity (REM sleep is when dreams occur)

During the first half of the night, n-REM sleep is dominant, with phases of REM getting longer as the night progresses. 

Ideally, you adjust your sleep time so that you can get most of your sleep between midnight and 5 am in the morning.

By doing so, you maximize the chance that you get sufficient nREM as well as REM sleep.

To summarize, aim to:

  • Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day

  • Get most of your sleep between midnight and 5 am

  • Get 30 minutes of sunlight exposure within the morning hours of the day (more if it’s cloudy)

  • Turning on bright lights after wakeup can help you eliminate morning fatigue quickly as well

4 – Evening routine 

Just as a morning routine can help you get started for the day, establishing an evening routine will do wonders if you struggle to fall asleep.

There are three aspects to structuring your evenings to optimize your sleep:

The "Shut-off“ – ritual

To avoid laying awake for hours, it’s important to not take your work with you to bed and to get a calm mind.

Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, your mind tends to always be on your business - which will keep you awake at night (if you let it).

Introducing a shut-down ritual will help you to avoid this by shifting your focus away from your work.

Here are some ways to do this:

  • Write out your tasks for the next day

  • Journal your thoughts before going to bed

  • Read something that isn’t related to work

  • Spend time with your partner

Boundaries around digital media

This can be very difficult as we’re so conditioned to be on our phones and laptops all the time, but it’s vital because bright screen light signals your body that it’s time to stay awake.

Even if you manage to knock out on your phone, it will be more difficult to enter deep sleep, which is important for your recovery.

Additionally, it will be more difficult for your brain to calm down, especially if you’re engaged in work or other mentally engaging topics.

Ideally, stay awake from screens for at least one hour before you go to bed.

Food and exercise

While exercise is shown to be beneficial for your sleep in general, it’s best to not do your heavy lifting right before going to bed.

Strenuous exercise will cause a short-term stress response that will make it harder for you to fall asleep quickly.

Light movements such as walks or stretches on the other side are a great way to calm your mind before going to bed and will help you to prepare for a good night of sleep.

Just like exercise, the meals you eat before you go to sleep can have a great impact on your ability to fall asleep and the quality of so.

There’s data that shows that…

  • Fatty foods

  • Alcohol

  • Spicy foods

Can negatively impact your sleep.

Having your last meal at least two hours before going to sleep has shown to be beneficial as well.

From my experience working with different clients, you have to experiment a bit to find out what works best for you.

Personally, I sleep best when my last meal of the day is rich in carbs, but avoid salt and highly processed foods in the evening.

Also, make sure to avoid caffeine in the evening!

Depending on your genetics, caffeine can stay much longer in your body than you may think – for some individuals, it takes up to 9 hours for half the caffeine to be out of the bloodstream.

As a rule of thumb, avoid caffeine after 2 pm.

5 – Tracking and data

As with everything, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

So if you’re serious about improving your sleep, you need to collect data.

One way you can do that is to journal how well you feel rested after waking up consistently.

Answering the five questions we used to determine whether your sleep is sufficient or not once per week can help you to do so.

Track that data over a time frame of at least three months.

Another method is to get a sleep-tracking device that will give you more insights into the quality, duration, and efficiency of your sleep.

Personally, I use an Oura ring for that purpose (I’m not affiliated with that company).

If you want help implementing this framework and learning even more ways to get the best out of your sleep, Click HERE to hop on a 30-minute free call with me.


Let’s recap the system to optimize your sleep:

1 – Commit to making sleep non-negotiable

Drop the common notion that sleep is a sacrifice and start seeing it as an investment towards yourself.

The data is clear that sacrificing sleep DECREASES your productivity.

It’s not about working more hours, it’s about getting to your goal as quickly as possible.

Sleep helps you to do just that.

2 – Duration of sleep:

You will need anywhere between 6 and 9 hours of sleep - only 5% of adults need less than that.

This is determined by genetics.

Common recommendations are between 7 and 9 hours.

If you struggle to get consistent sleep during the week, sleeping longer on the weekends is shown to have some benefits.

3 – Consistent sleep cycles:

Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Get exposure to at least 30 minutes of sunlight per day – increase this time on cloudy days.

This will help you fall asleep easier and wake up refreshed.

4 – Preparation:

Establishing an evening routine will help you fall asleep faster, without having your thoughts keeping you awake.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Plan the next day ahead

  • Journal your thoughts and recap the day

  • Read something that isn’t about your work

  • Spend time with your partner

  • Do light movements or stretches

Stay away from screens one hour before bed, reduce artificial light in the evening, and avoid heavy meals in the evening.

5 – Tracking and data

Journal on the questions we used to evaluate your quality of sleep:

  • After waking up in the morning, could you fall back asleep at 10 or 11 am?

  • Do you need caffeine before noon to function optimally?

  • If you didn’t set an alarm clock, would you sleep past that time?

  • Do you find yourself at a screen reading and then re-reading the same sentence?

  • Do you sometimes forget what color the last few traffic lights were while driving?

The less you answer "yes“ to these questions, the better your sleep.

Consider getting an electronic device to track your sleep.

That’s it for today, see you next week!


Want to learn more about how to improve your sleep for better health, fitness, and performance in your business?

Click HERE to hop on a free 30-minute call with me!