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Insomnia, Life Lessons

Insomnia can lead to a whole host of issues, affecting your quality of life. But with a paradigm shift, it doesn’t have to.

Insomnia is a lifelong battle for many. Depending on the stresses in your life and overall health, it may come and go. For some of us, we have to deal with chronic insomnia that is relentless. You read all the time about how sleep affects your health, mood, and every other thing that matters to you.

If You Have Insomnia You Likely Already Tried:

· The sleep tests, every one of them

· Changed beds or tried a feather bed top, memory foam etc

· Used Nyquil, Ambien along with a whole other host of meds

· Tried essential oils, baths before bed etc

· Waking up early hoping to fall asleep early

· Not eating late

· Hitting the gym at night to tire yourself out

· Sex near bedtime

· No phones, no lights, dark room

· Ambient noises like fans, sounds of rain etc

There is about 100 other tips and tricks, and they work for some, but none of them work for many too. I have been stuck in the none of them work group since I was 9 years old. That was around the time my brain just lit up and I could never turn it off at night. That is how it is still today.

The Good Things About Insomnia If You Embrace Them

· You find yourself with more time than others and time is the most valuable thing to us. I do a lot of my writing at 1–2am (like this article, while listening to something like Eric Prydz) so while everyone else is sleeping, I can put in mad work. For those that get very tired at night, this isn’t an option.

· While you’re trying to read yourself to sleep, and it doesn’t work, you end up reading a lot more, way more than avid readers. There have been nights where I have read a whole book! If you’re reading 4–5 books a month, imagine the knowledge you gain over a year!

· If you deal with it long enough, you’re pretty much operational 24 hours a day. So when you have kids and the baby wants to be fed at 1am, well guess who is used to doing stuff at 1am! Want to go to that yoga or Soul Cycle class at 6am? Sweet, I am already awake, let’s go! It just a matter of accepting your issue and conditioning yourself to make the most of it.

Managing The Bad Things About Insomnia

· If you work for yourself it is much easier to manage your schedule. When you work for others, you may not find much quarter from your boss if you tell them about your insomnia issues. You must be aware of the times of day of when you are in the zone. Normal people get sleepy around 3pm and slack, but you may be fully energized. Understand your daily rhythms and get as much work done as you can during the good times.

· I rarely ever say good morning to people because its rarely ever a good morning. I am tired and trying to get a grip on my hectic day while having my head in the clouds from the lack of sleep some days. That crankiness is going to hold you back in both your personal and professional lives. Never leave the house without a shower, try going for a jog, lift weights or do some yoga before you get to the office. DO SOMETHING to change your attitude before you step into work.

· To go with the bullet above, don’t walk in the house after work even more cranky, this will put a strain on your relationships quick. This is all about acknowledging your issue and just dealing with it, don’t make it other people’s problems.

· Sleep affects your health greatly. Knowing you’re already at a disadvantage, you don’t get much room for error when it comes to diet and exercise. If you feel like crap from not sleeping, that can of Coke and slice of cheesecake will only compound the issue.

· Managing stress is a lot of people’s problem. Take it out on the gym or end your day doing or thinking about things that makes you happy. If you go to sleep stressing about money, bills, a school exam the next day or whatever it is, you’re never going to go to sleep. Think about the good things in life. Even those in a bad spot in life still have some happy things to think about.

After 20+ years of dealing with building startups + no sleep I have learned to turn this disadvantage into an advantage for the most part. Maintaining a high quality of life while dealing with insomnia is possible. You just have to play the game right.

Do try to sleep as much as you can, eat healthy, acknowledge your problem and don’t burden others with it. Once you do all that, you will make a few strides forward down the path of living a better life.


  Social media sites are full of yacht pictures, photos of dream vacation homes, and endless comments of “I hope to own a Telsa one day”. I cannot argue with dreaming; I do a lot of it. You should too unless you want to stay stagnant for the rest of your life. But at some point you have to wake up from that dream and go do something to actually make it happen. Back in the day, I had the blueprint of my dream home stapled to my wall, but you wouldn’t have caught me staring at it all day. It’s really easy to dream and its god damn hard to put the work in everyday to make those dreams happen. Chatting with people over the last 6 months about their personal goals, dreams and those in the start-up realm, one thing has concerned me. Very few had a plan or desire to gain the knowledge to go make their dream happen. To which I respond, start picking up books! Listen to some HBR podcasts they have like 300 for free! Take a class. Just do something! Good luck competing in the modern landscape if you’re the same person you were intellectually 2 years ago. The world is changing fast, you must keep learning and you can bet the other guy you’re competing against has already read that new NYT best-selling business book. In fact, they probably have the next couple new releases on pre-order. They want to get to that information first so they have an edge. So you have big dreams? Even if you have the drive and ambition, you’re going to be stuck in a perpetual dream forever if you don’t possess the knowledge to change your life. Wake up from that dream, go gain some new knowledge and start making it happen.

  If you have screened Good Will Hunting, you’ll know the part where Matt Damon is in the office with Robin Williams and he says “you’re reading the wrong f’ing books.” This post isn’t so much about buying fancy books instead of “good books” as Damon was referencing, but more about the type of books you choose to read. I am an avid reader and book collector, so I am always poking around friend’s and family’s book collections to see what topics they are interested in. One trend I have noticed is many people own the how to get rich, how to become a millionaire and the whole array of best-selling self-help books. Now these all serve a purpose and I have read my fair share of them. The issue becomes, you have a bookshelf full of these books on how to become a millionaire, but very few or even none that give you the know-how to actually do it. I can read self-help and motivational books all day, but if I don’t have the knowledge and skills to do it, then I am not going anywhere, am I? Building real know-how is going to trump any motivation book you will ever read. How will you become world-class or hone any kind of skill worth great value if you are not consuming knowledge and perfecting that craft? If you’re a business owner, on any given day, I would rather you read “The Essays of Warren Buffett” over “Rich Dad Poor Dad”. If you’re a marketer I would rather you read “Hooked”, “Made to Stick” and “Growth Hacker Marketing” than the whole host of self-help best sellers. I was never into penny pinching to gain wealth, the goal is to hone particular crafts that can lead you to generating great wealth because you have a set of knowledge that is better than most. Without the know-how, all the motivation in the world is meaningless.

  Your personal and professional goals are often held up because you’re stuck in a rut. I heard a good example of this from the show Billions where Giamatti said something along the lines of “our practices leave grooves and over time those grooves become walls” and thought that was a great way to describe complacency and living with blinders on as we rinse and repeat daily life. You take the same way to work everyday, talk to the same people and do the same things. When you should take a different way to work everyday, meet some new people and learn some new things. You may be in the right job, at the right company and in the right city but you may be surrounded by the wrong people. They old saying of “you’re the sum of the 5 people you hang out with” is kind of true. The habits, conversations and influences of those around you, shape you. When I landed my first tech gig, I literally left everything and everyone I knew behind. To stay in “that life” would have only led me directly to failure. A flaw I see many professionals make, is that they don’t actively prune their networks. As they grow, some of those around them don’t, and it ultimately ends up hurting them, Your personal and professional relationships will be key to your growth. Changing and adding new people that are on your level and above will lead you down a different path. I just stumbled upon an app called Shapr to help expand my networks in Detroit, Chicago and New York for example. If I can find people with something interesting to say or they are just simply interesting, I am down to grab a drink and meet someone new. Maybe once a year, review your relationships and figure out if you need to do some pruning as you can add, by subtracting. But always build new relationships and meet new people, you never know what you may learn from the next person you meet. I added a video below that has a speech from the end of a song I heard. It’s Joel Osteen speaking, and keep an open mind about the message even if you’re not overly religious (I am not, but I try to keep an open mind and consume knowledge with open eyes as sometimes I don’t care about the source if the message is something of value.)

I am a firm believer that humans can justify anything. From the good, the bad, to the downright evil, human will find some reason, no matter how minuscule, to justify their actions. As I was shopping recently, I kept hearing the sales pitch of “you deserve it” or “treat yourself” or “you work so hard, you worked for it, spoil yourself” Those are the same things you tell yourself anytime you are about to spend money on yourself, from the SPA to a nice dinner or some material item. And that internal invoice is damn right, you should spoil yourself! Treat yourself! But understanding why you’re doing it is even more important. One thing worse than lying to someone else, is lying to yourself. Don’t say you deserve it if you didn’t. Just buy the damn thing and admit you wanted it and you don’t need a reason why. I am all about rewarding yourself, but it happens often in the sense that you just need a justification to spend the money. I say don’t justify it, whether you justify it or not, you will likely do it anyway. I would rather say to myself “I really need to step my game up” vs. doing mediocre shit and wanting the world to celebrate my half ass attempt at being awesome. Most people I run into don’t know what hard work is. Whether they want to reach a fitness goal, a professional achievement or reaching whatever goal it comes to when saving money or perfecting a craft. You keep telling yourself you worked so hard, when many times you didn’t, that little voice in your head just needs a reason to reward yourself. Understanding that you didn’t work as hard as you should is more important than lying to yourself that you did work hard. You just end up in a rut of never achieving what you wanted to AND you keep rewarding yourself for it. Treat yourself but don’t justify it. Justify it when you set a goal and blew it out of the water, then pat yourself on the back and ask what’s next.