Monday, April 11, 2011

Sleeping Shortly

As of about 5:00 AM eastern time (US), I began my fifty-fifth year on the planet and I must say that I've been enjoying the trip. This place (i.e., earth) has a lot to offer and I feel as though I've just barely scratched the surface. So much to do, so little time.

Speaking of time, on Saturday morning I received an email from my buddy Jonathan directing me to a Wall Street Journal article on Yahoo entitled The Sleepless Elite, Why some people can run on little sleep and get so much done. The article describes research being conducted on a very small population of people who seem to thrive on five to six hours of sleep per night, or "Short Sleepers".

Apparently the descriptions reminded Jonathan of yours truly and as I read the article I had to admit they sure sounded familiar. The article describes short sleepers as...
...people who are simultaneously night owls and early birds. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later to barrel through the day without needing naps or caffeine.

They are also energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious, according to the few researchers who have studied them...

To date, only a handful of small studies have looked at short sleepers -- in part because they're hard to find. They rarely go to sleep clinics and don't think they have a disorder...

Not only are their circadian rhythms different from most people, so are their moods (very upbeat)...
They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.

Hmmm... OK, so there were many clues that seemed to indicate I might be part of a new group with a disorder and a catchy name. However, unlike so many disorders, mine seemed to be desirable. Apparently, people studying short sleepers don't want to cure them. Instead, they want to learn how short sleepers sleep shortly so that they can teach others to do so as well.

The article stated that there is currently no way to teach yourself to be a short sleeper and of course this is the part where I thought, "Wow, it's really hard for PhD's to be creative after spending all those years proving orthodoxy."

So, I wrote one of the researchers conducting the studies and offered my assistance. I'll let you know how it goes, but my first clue would be the question: Are people energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious because they're short sleepers or are they short sleepers because they're energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious?

As I mentioned, I'll let you know where this goes. For now, I'm going to energetically, optimistically, and ambitiously celebrate my birthday and my latest disorder.

Happy Monday!


  1. Happy Birthday, dear Mark, and wish you a super-bodacious rollicking time on this next orbit around the sun!

    As for the question you posed, my answer would be a unequivocal Yes :-), since I've been on the other side of the short-sleeping divide in the not-too-distant past.

  2. I agree with you & Sree. This may stretch credulity but in my youth I was a short sleeper, about 6 hrs./ night. At that time I had just lost 100 lbs. and was seriously and enthusiastically engaged in my life.

  3. how about holding that attitude in general?

    To study "disorders" with out a big want to cure them - but simply out of curiosity - out of wanting to find out if this "disorder" has something beneficial to others?

    Happy birthday plus one


  4. Frack,
    I like your idea.

    In fact, what if we saw the disorder not only as having benefits, but being purposeful in nature, kind of like the gift of a super power. The one gifted finds a sense of purpose in the gift.

    It's the attitudinal jujitsu that transforms challenge into opportunity, weakness into strength, and disorder into superpower. It goes beyond neutralization of judgments, transforming debilitating ones into empowering ones.


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