What Can the Wood-Choppers Contest Story Teach Us About Sleep

Once upon a time there were two men in a wood chopping contest.  They were tasked with chopping down as many trees in the forest as they could from sun-up to sun-down.  The winner would be rewarded with both fame and fortune.

From morning till noon, both men firmly chopped and chopped.  By noon they were neck and neck, but then one man took a break and stopped chopping.  The other man saw this and thought to himself: “The lazy fool, he’s probably taken a break for lunch. He’s given me a chance to get ahead of him and I will without doubt win this contest!”

A while later the man got back to work. As the day continued he chopped more trees than his hard-working (and hungry) competitor and by the middle of the afternoon he had taken a clear lead.

How you might ask…

Keep reading.

When sundown came, the man who had taken the break at noon had chopped almost twice as many trees as the other man, who was drenched in sweat, hungry and exhausted.

How did you beat me?” he asked shocked.

“You were lazier than I and even took a break for lunch!”

“Ah,” said the other man, “I did take a break, but it was during that break, that I sharpened my axe.”

Moral of the story:
Taking time out to sharpen your axe/sleep is worth many hours of hard work. The hours you put while tired give you diminishing returns on your “time” investment. Maybe taking a nap in middle of the day can help you. Remember it is not the quantity of the sleep that matters, but the quality of the sleep.

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How Lewis Howes from the School of Greatness Sleeps Better than You

Lewis is a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, sought-after business coach and host of the popular podcast The School of Greatness, which gets 850,000 downloads a month. He was recognized in 2013 by the White House as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under 30, and Details Magazine calls him one of 5 Internet Guru’s Who Can Make You Rich. Furthermore, his new book School of Greatness is New York Times best sellers.

Lewis is always on the go, but finds time to rest and pay it forward. He truly inspires GREATNESS. Check out the interview:

What time do you wake up at?

I shoot to be up by 7:30 in the morning, but if I’m traveling or had a super late night, I admit I sleep in sometimes.

As an entrepreneur with a crazy schedule, how do you manage to get enough sleep at night?

I have learned to be really intentional about my sleep. If I know I’m going to have a later night, I try to schedule my next day to start later. I also plan ahead when I’m making travel arrangements to keep that in mind also. I’m not perfect at it, but I know from my own experience that making time for quality sleep pays off.

Do you have a ritual before going to bed?

I ask the last person I talk to at night to tell me the 3 things they are most grateful for. I also try to do an 11-minute meditation, which helps me clear my mind.
I make an effort to be in bed by midnight or earlier. Again, it depends on where I’m at and what I have going on, but when I’m home and don’t have evening plans, I turn in early.

Can we get a picture of your bedroom?

Lewis Howes bedroom

(Lewis doesn’t have all those USA flags or letters on his wall anymore. =) Photo: Video interview of Lewis Howes LifeonFire with Nick Unsworth

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Click to Tweet: How Does Lewis Howes from the School of Greatness Sleep Better than You @SleepSumo

Sleep and a Story of a Penny Compounded Overtime

I recently read a very interesting story that asked a handful of regular people if they would rather (a) have a million dollars now or (b) take a penny now and double the amount every day for the next 30 days. As expected, the majority of people chose the million dollars now option. If you picked (a) you would have missed out on over $4 million at the end of  the 30 day period.

Don’t believe me?

Look at the penny table calculation on the right. The simple act of doubling your previous day’s investment can rapidly yield a huge reward thanks to the powerful concept known as compounding.

Power of Compound InterestOkay, a 100% return every single day is highly improbable, however, the principle of compounding continue to be true. This is why compounding is a core aspect of good personal finance and the reason why the rich get richer.

This principle is the same for improving sleep. Making small changes to improve your sleep now, compounded over time will give you big results. Ultimately drastically improving your quality of sleep.

Compound interest has been called the eighth wonder of the world. Even Albert Einstein is said to have called it one of the greatest mathematical concepts of our time.

But you don’t need to be a genius to harness the power of the compound effect, you just need to stay consistent with your small changes.

Stay focused on small improvements to your sleep every night and next thing you know you will be sleeping like me!

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Pulling All-Nighters is Pointless!

What happens when you sleep?

REM Sleep, Dreams, and the Circadian Rhythm: The most vivid and memorable dreams take place during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

During REM sleep, eye movements resemble what the sleeper is looking at in the dream, while the rest of the body is paralyzed at the brain stem. If we were to look at someone eyes in REM cycle, his/her eyes would be moving from left to right as if they are looking at someone.

The sleep and dream cycle varies between, person to person but the majority of “healthy” individuals exhibits a consistent pattern illustrated by the graphs below. The Circadian Rhythm is a 24-hour cycle the human body goes through each day.


According to US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health the two factors that affect memory retention are how much of your time asleep is spent in REM.

We organically sleep in periods/cycles of deep sleep and “shallow” sleep, with each round being ended by a period of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) for about 20 minutes. The greater the number of REMs we have a night, the more well rested we are the next day and the better perform and have processed our short-term memory into long-term.

REM cycles are about 1h30 (90 minutes), which is the reason it is best to sleep in multiples of 90 minutes. 7.5-8 hours will be 5 REM cycles.

If we only sleep 6 hours, that’s 4 REM cycles. We’ve lost 20% of the memory and restoration of our sleep.

It only gets worse at 4.5 hours, or 3 REM cycles, where we’re only getting 40% of the memory processing time. Ouch!


It’s very easy to waste a day of work or study by not getting enough sleep. Conclusion, spending a whole night studying for a big presentation and trying to cram information is pointless if we only get three to fours hours of sleep. 

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How to Fall Asleep When You Toss and Turn at Night and Can’t Fall Asleep

“I toss and turn at night and can’t fall asleep”

Have you ever had that happened to you?

You’re in bed, ready to sleep, but you just can’t fall asleep.

It’s not fun.

Here is a quick and easy checklist to help stop tossing and turning:

1- Make sure you’re getting exercise during the day, you’re probably not exhausting your body enough. Working out doesn’t require you to exercise for hours. Even a 7 minutes workout, daily will do the job.

2- Get a white noise machine so you have something to focus on. You can also download a white noise app on your mobile phone, or tablet.

3-You might be stressed out. Try to meditate or use the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.

4- Make sure there are no lights still on in your room, it should be as close to pitch black as possible. This is because when there is light, your body thinks that the sun is coming up and will start to wake you up. You can accomplish this by getting some blackout curtains.

5-Make sure you’re sleeping in your bed, your body might think you should be doing something else. Sleeping on the couch or the floor is not recommended.

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Why You Should Never Feel Guilty for Sleeping (Infographic)

Do you sometimes feel guilty of sleeping? I have in the past.

It’s normal.

Sometimes it’s your body’s way of telling you to chill out and take a break.

But there’s a generation of entrepreneurs who want to make you feel guilty if you aren’t working 24/7, 365.

They brag about how they don’t get home until midnight. How they only sleep a few hours a night. How they are always traveling and never see their kids. And how it’s all worth it
in the end.

But is it?

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem at all with “hard work”. But it’s much better to perform “smart work” highest leverage activities.

Treat your mind and body just like a professional athlete does.

Athletes eat well and nourish their body.

Athletes train hard, but they don’t train 16+ hours a day.

And athletes get plenty of time to rest and recover.

According to the infographic below by HomeArena, the amount of sleep successful entrepreneurs actually get diverge widely, with many getting seven to nine hours per night.


The lesson here is that the only person who can tell you how much sleep you need is you!  Your body has mechanisms in place to let you know when you need it, so listen to them.

However, experiment with different dinner foods, bedtime routines, bed sheets, room temperatures to see what works best for you. You can count on us to bring you case studies, tips, expert advice and recommendations to experiment.

Remember also that ignoring these signs can have a tremendous impact on your mood, productivity and health.

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4 Ways to Improve Your Sleep with Fitness Expert Adam Gilbert

I Interviewed with Fitness Expert Adam Gilbert regarding sleep, its impact and what we can do to improve it. Adam is a nationally recognized health, fitness and motivational expert and is the Founder and Chief Body Tutor of MyBodyTutor, a company he created to help people stop making excuses when it comes to health and fitness, by providing daily and personal accountability like no other company in the world.

Adam shares 4 tips to improve your sleep:

1) Set an alarm clock at night. It’s a powerful reminder to get to bed.

Otherwise, we wind up spending countless hours watching TV / being online and we won’t get enough sleep. That causes us to hit the snooze button which causes us to start the day behind the ball. A good night of sleep starts with our bedtime.

2) Keep your alarm clock/phone across the room.

This way, you have to get out of bed to turn it off. This makes it harder to hit the snooze button.

3) Have a nighttime ritual.

It’s helpful to have a set routine every night. It’s a signal to ourselves that we’re winding down. It might include taking a warm shower, drinking some tea, reading, etc.

4) Write down everything on your mind before bed.

This is a part of my  nighttime ritual. A lot of people tell me they can’t get go to bed because their mind won’t shut off. It’s because they have so many things on their mind. By writing down everything it clears your head. Simple but so powerful.

Sleep, like our diet, impacts everything so it’s very important.
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How to Fall Asleep in Seconds 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

How to Fall Asleep in Seconds 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

Dr Andrew Weil, a Harvard-trained medical doctor with a focus on holistic health, says this breathing exercise will not only get us sleeping but also help us restore balance in times of stress and even curb food cravings – other issues parents are dealing with constantly.

He has shared numerous videos on it I’ve linked one below. You will see that the technique is pretty simple but powerful.

He explains: “Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.”

This is followed by this 4 step process:

  1. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of 4.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  3. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8.
  4. This is one breath. Now repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Dr. Weil stresses that you should only increase your cycles as you get more used to it.

Try it the 4-7-8 before bed and let me know below in the comments how you slept. Want to be notified of our next sleep tip? Make sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

I Sleep Better than you

Are You Tired and Run Down? Would You Like To Finally Get One Good Night of Sleep?

If you are the typical entrepreneur, right now, you are tired. You woke up tired, drank at least one cup of coffee to get moving and yet you could still use a nap right now…but you don’t have the time to take a nap.

That seems to be the journey many of us are on when we are running our own business, our own family, our own life.

In the past, my sleep was not alway as good as I would like it to be. I’m a father of three amazing children all under 5; Liam, Adriana, and Oliver. My wife Mallorie and I also own a dance and fitness studio (Move Dance and Fitness).

Boys pictureAdriana and oliver

Like you, I realized over the years there just has to be a better way. Taking care of the kids, the business, my relationship with the love of my life, doing things we all want to do…you know, the fun stuff; going for a hike, a vacation, simply spending time playing with the kids on the floor. I needed to be more alert, more present, more rested.

I couldn’t drink enough coffee to keep me going at the level I wanted to live. My guess is, you feel the same way. You want more, you want to get a good night’s sleep.

This led me on a search. I began to explore what was working for others…and then I tested it in my-own-life. I also discovered a number of things on my own that surprised me. I began to develop habits that help me maximize my sleep time. Things like exercise, what I eat and drink, and even things like what I wear, when I nap and more make a difference. It was a discovery I soon realized made massive changes in how rested I felt and that led to accomplishing things I only once dreamed of.

I realized I couldn’t keep this all to myself. I began to share it with friends and family. I began to write down what it was I had discovered and before I knew it, I created Sleep Sumo.

Dear Mind (2)

The mission of Sleep Sumo is to help Entrepreneurs and small business owners sleep better.

You will discover:

  • How to maximize the sleep time you get.
  • Ways to fall asleep faster AND stay asleep longer.
  • Naps. (This one technique is invaluable.)
  • Tips and tricks such as the exact time of day to exercise for you to have better sleep.
  • Set the stage in the bedroom for a full night of rest.
  • What to wear to avoid waking up at night.

Subscribe to the newsletter and you will get 1 free tip a week to improve your sleep and finally feel rested.