Breaking Free of the Antisleep Psychology Lockhold

16.07.2019 |

Episode #8 of the course Sleep hacks: Using science to improve your sleep by John Robin


Welcome to our eighth hack in our journey to better sleep with the wisdom of science!

We’ve explored hacks that show us not just what to strive for but also ways to flex around it a little. Yet with all that said, you might still feel like you’re staring at a wall: You just can’t apply any of this to your life because there’s just no way for you to sleep late and get all your sleep, and there’s no way for you to sleep early. Sleeping less is the only option.

What a wall to stare at! And in fact, there’s science at work here, which we’re going to now hack apart.


The Ellsberg Paradox, Applied to Sleep

We are subject to hundreds of cognitive biases. From day to day, as we think about our life problems and how to solve them, we fall back on assumptions, many of which lead to limiting or even incorrect decisions. (I highly recommend you check out the Highbrow course, “How Cognitive Biases Are Messing Up Your Decisions.”)

One of these biases is called the Ellsberg paradox, named after US military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who popularized the concept. This paradox can be boiled down to the expression:

“Better to choose the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

In the case of sleep, the devil we know is our set life that guarantees us a certain income, job security, social status, and predictability. When given the choice:

• Radically alter your life as you know it to set as priority number one, sleeping to full recharge.


• Keep your life the same, and try to find a shortcut to better sleep.

If you’re human, as we all are, then we’re likely to pick the second version. It’s the devil we know. The results are predictable because we know we’ll have a job to show up for. We know we’ll have a certain amount of money in the bank each month. We know we’ll be respected by our friends for our commitments and the work we do and how we contribute.

We know we’ll get a crappy sleep, but oh well, that’s just life.

But here’s the devil we don’t know, and it’s this devil that we’ve been flirting with for seven hacks now:

What if you risked your job security? What if you risked your monthly income? What if you risked your social status, potentially looking like a misfit with your sleep evangelism?

What if you slept the best you’ve ever slept, found the deepest restoration, and in all of this … what if you discovered a mental superpower that gave you the kind of focus that could make you into the next CEO of a world-changing company?

What a devil!

Ellsberg’s paradox shows how we are prone to avoid such devils, of course, which is what might be still making everything you’ve learned difficult. Most likely, by Ellsberg’s paradox, you’re going to take notes from this course, learn quite a bit, apply the hacks as able, but all within the framework of keeping a stable life.

And that’s okay—you’re only human.

But now equipped with science, you can step outside that.

Here are the odds, if you dare to make the gamble:

• Hacks 1-4 tells you how your brain’s superpower comes only through those final one to two hours on top of the critical six to seven.

• Hack 5 tells you why sleep debt kills this superpower.

• Hack 6 tells you how the relaxation makes it easier for you to charge this superpower.

• Hack 7 tells you how best to ride the waves to harness this superpower efficiently, with lifestyle flexibility.

All these hacks tell you that you have a superpower waiting to be unleashed … but only if you put sleep first.

You don’t have to pull the rug out entirely to get to this place, but you have to be willing to make decisions that carry some weight.

I had to stop several jobs and commitments that forced me to have to be up early, to get the best sleep possible. And while I’m very happy with where I am now, I’m still in motion making the small changes that improve my sleep by putting it first.

In fact, that is a perfect segue to tomorrow’s hack: harnessing the science of micro-habits to make large-scale changes.

Today’s hack takeaway: If you’re afraid of the devil you don’t know, recognize psychology at work tricking you. Get to know that devil because through that friendship, you can tap into your ultimate superpower.


Recommended book

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero


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