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

Woodchopper contest

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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