Sleep: Why 71/2 Hours is Better Than 8 But Not As Good as 9

How did you sleep last night?


I’m asking because it seems to be a popular topic right now and lately I’m not sleeping so well.

Until a few years ago, other than a bout of insomnia in 2003 that lasted for about 3 months I slept fine. But again I’m in a season where I’m not sleeping much more than 4-5 hours a night…that might work for some people but not for me.

When I was a teenager I worked with a guy who bragged he only needed 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night. He argued that while most people slept through the night he had more time to do other things. I wasn’t sure what those things were exactly, I never asked.

Growing up I was taught that getting 8 hours of sleep a night was imperative to good health. I don’t know where that number came from or if it was ever scientifically proven, but it seemed to be the gold standard for as long as I can remember.

But what if 8 hours of sleep is not ideal? What if you you should get less sleep not more?

I’m not suggesting that we can live on 2 to 3 hours a night. That guy I worked with eventually had to stop working altogether while he was hospitalized. He was gone for months.

The national sleep foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults 18-64. But maybe it’s more specific than that.

Sleep Cycles

While you sleep, we go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night.

If we typically sleep in 90 minute cycles throughout the night, and if we wake most refreshed at the end of a sleep cycle, then we should schedule our sleep to coincide with our sleep cycles. In other words, 6 hours equals 4 sleep cycles. 71/2 hours equals 5 sleep cycles and 9 hours equal 6.

If this is accurate, then waking up after 8 hours means we will be doing so in the middle of a sleep cycle, and might explain why we wake up groggy rather than refreshed.

For Example

Let’s say you go to bed at 10pm tonight, and fall asleep in about 15 minutes. After 5 cycles of sleep (71/2 hours) you should wake up @ 6am; give or take a few minutes. If you wake up or set your alarm for 6:30 or 7:00am you might be waking up mid sleep cycle and possibly sabotaging your best chance for a productive day.

This is also why using the snooze button typically backfires. You might think you’ll benefit from an extra 10 minutes of shut eye, but if you actually fall asleep only to wake up 10 minutes later, well, you get the picture. (which might be why you push the snooze button a second or third time)

There are numerous ways to improve your sleep such as…

  • choosing a consistent bedtime and wake up time,
  • keeping your room dark,
  • avoiding screen light (laptops, smartphones etc) an hour before bed,
  • getting regular exercise,
  • getting a better quality mattress and pillow

But ensuring you are sleeping the proper amount of time might be just what the doctor ordered. So remember; follow your sleep patterns. Getting 8 hours sleep a night might not be in your best interest.

71/2 of sleep is better than 8 but not as good as 9

What do you think?

How well do you sleep? What habits do you practice that help you?

What tips can you offer those struggling with sleep.


Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Reflections on Rio

5 Takeaways from the Olympic Games

In last week’s post I shared some reactions to my friend Krista Duchene, competing in Rio, in the women’s marathon. You can read about it here.

The 2016 Olympic games are history now, but I think there are plenty of life lessons that we can learn from them.


Whether you were an avid fan, a casual observer or even disinterested altogether, I think there were significant life lessons to be learned, that can make a difference for us moving forward.

5 Life Lessons From The Olympic Games

  1. Success is more than winning.

I think that it’s easy to approach life with a narrow view of success. How do you define it? In sports winning and losing is easy to see. The scoreboard tell s it all…or does it?

For Lanni Marchant (Canadian marathon runner) success is “laying it all on the line”. In other words after all her training and preparation for the Olympics, giving it her best effort was how she defined winning.

She knew before the games began that she wouldn’t win the marathon. So why bother competing? Because success is not about winning but competing and doing your best while doing so.

     2. Perfection is a myth

As someone who struggles with this, it was good to be reminded again that perfection is not the point. After finishing 6th in the 1500m race, Canadian Ryan Cochrane said, “It’s not about being perfect but getting better.” I love this. I need to hear this over and over. I’m all about learning, improving and progress. I think when we stop trying to improve, whether it be in our relationships, our health or our work or whatever, we fall back. We get lazy and the most important things in our lives can suffer for it.

Perfectionism is often rooted in fear. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule and fear of rejection. When perfection is our standard, we can actually sabotage the very things we want to accomplish.

Take this blog post for example. For some reason it just won’t format properly. I spent hours trying to fix the problem, but as you read this you will know that I was not successful. There was a time I wouldn’t have posted this. But hopefully this will be helpful in spite of how it looks.

Let me ask you a question:
If you knew you could not fail, what would you do, that you haven’t done yet?
I’m close to completing my first book…but it’s been an emotional roller coaster as I get closer to publishing. I go from excitement to discouragement and back again. Why? Fear perhaps. Fear it won’t matter. Fear that it will be torn apart and no one will like it. But I know that my first book won’t be my best book. Why? Because we get better the more we do something. Getting better takes time, practice and commitment.
     3. HOW we do something is as important as WHAT we do.
Some of the most inspirational moments of the Olympics came when many weren’t watching. For example, in the women’s 5000m race, two runners, Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino collided. They gave up hope of winning an Olympic medal and instead helped each other up to continue to the finish line. Moments after D’Agostino aided the New Zealander during the 5,000m race, the American collapsed to the ground in obvious pain before Hamblin repaid the gesture.
Hamblin and D’Agostino finished last. But how they competed mattered more.
     4. Character Matters
I don’t know if the Rio Olympics were much different from past games, but it seemed to me we saw an unusual amount of poor sportsmanship. While runners were helping each other up, others were showing the dark side of human nature. Here are a few examples…
  • “Egypt’s Islam El Shehaby, blue, declines to shake hands with Israel’s Or Sasson, white, after losing during the men’s over 100-kg judo competition.” CREDIT: AP 
  • One of the most disheartening moments for me involved the French athlete, Renaud Lavillenie. “This was the moment French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie was reduced to tears after being booed on the podium while he received his silver medal. IOC president Thomas Bach described the crowd’s behaviour as “shocking” and “unacceptable at the Olympics”. Lavillenie had been booed by the crowd during Monday’s competition, as he battled Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva for gold, giving a thumbs-down gesture to the cameras as he prepared for an attempt. After the medal ceremony, IAAF president Lord Coe, vice-president Sergey Bubka and Da Silva attempted to console Lavillenie, who simply wrote “no words” in his Twitter account of what happened.” World News
  • Hope Solo, goal keeper for the USA women’s soccer team…calling team Sweden “A bunch of cowards” after losing to them in a shootout. Even her teammates couldn’t defend her.

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” Henry Ford

     5. Success Happens In Community
We saw some great performances in Rio. But no one even got to the Olympics without a significant team around them. No one achieved anything without the support of a larger community.  From coaches and sponsors to family and friends, every athlete had the support from a multitude of people.
One of my favorite moments was when Krista Duchene crossed the finish line at the end of her marathon run and immediately went to her family and coach for hugs and kisses.  That scene will never get old.

“Krista DuChene’s Olympic experience was everything she had hoped for. Running in the women’s marathon on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, DuChene finished 35th in a time of two hours, 35 minutes, 29 seconds. The Brantford resident said she will forever cherish being able to meet her family and coach Rick Mannen almost immediately after crossing the finish line.

“It was the absolute moment you dream of as an athlete and a mom and a wife and a sister,” she said over the phone from Brazil.

“I ran over to them, hugged them and we were cheering and crying.

“That was the moment . . . . It all came together perfectly in terms of the experience and the race itself.” Krista Duchene

Do you want to improve a specific area of your life? (Finances, Health, Relationship, Career)
Do you have a dream you want to accomplish?
Don’t try to do it on your own. Learn from others who are where you want to be; get the support and encouragement you need. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.
Yes, the Olympics are over but the lessons we can learn and apply from them are not…
  • Success is more than winning
  • Perfection is a myth
  • How we do something is as important as what we do
  • Character matters
  • Success happens in community

Which ones can you take to heart and apply to your life?

Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Reflections on Rio: You Have to Run Your Own Race

The Olympics is an event where every 4 years we get to see men & women do incredible things. Things that most of us can’t. Most of us will never run a marathon in under three hours or run 100 m in under 10 seconds. Most of us will never compete let alone medal at this level of competition.

It was such a thrill to watch our friend Krista Duchene compete in the women’s marathon this past Sunday at the Rio Olympics. We are so proud of her. Krista is inspirational. Not only is she a world-class athlete but she’s a world-class human being. 

It was through tears that we saw Krista cross the finish line.


If you have participated in sports at any level, you probably have a greater appreciation for what these athletes are capable of. You might play basketball, swim, run or jump on a trampoline; but doing these things ourselves only reinforces how good they are.

We have a pool at home but I can’t do a few lengths without getting winded. I have no idea how Ryan Cochrane can do 30 laps of a 50m pool against the best in the world. I’ve run a 30km race in the past, a race that Krista is a past champion of; and she does it in less than half the time!

You Have to Run Your Own Race

One question I’ve heard over and over during the interviews of athletes is “How did you prepare for your event?” And without fail every athlete is able to describe their approach or game plan. They all had a plan and a strategy. Some went out strong hoping to hold off the competition while others would start slow and with the goal of overcoming the field down the stretch. 

If there was one lesson (actually there are many) we can learn from these Olympic games is that each of us has to run our own race.

  • You have to have your own dream. What do you want to accomplish? What’s your goal?
  • You have to have your own plan. What routines, habits and steps do you have to take in order to reach your goal?
  • You have to have your own focus. It would be easy for any athlete to take his eyes of himself and worry about the guy next to him, but that will only serve to slow him down. There are so many distractions at the games…the crowds, the cameras, crazy fans who want to run you off the course.
  • You have to believe in your own abilities. What are your strengths? What are you good at? What do you make look easy that others find hard or impossible?
  • You have to embrace your own journey. There are over 11,000 Olympic athletes in Rio and there are 306 sets of medals to be won. That means less than 10% of all the athletes will actually take home some hardware. So why compete you ask? After finishing a disappointing 6th in the 1500m swim, Ryan Cochrane said, “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about getting better.” 

“Bearing a scar on her left thigh from surgery to fix a broken leg, DuChene, the University of Guelph graduate and mother of three, said the race was a highlight of a career she has no plans to end any time soon.

“I wanted to come and not just be that ‘old mom with three kids who made it to the Olympics,’ but to have a great race,” she said. “It just gives a lot of encouragement to moms out there who have kids and who work.” Krista Duchene

What about you? What’s your dream? Do you even have a dream?

I’m putting the final touches on my first book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and I’m hoping to launch it next month. But here’s the thing…I’ll never be Donald Miller, Tim Keller or Malcolm Gladwell or (insert your favorite author here) because I’m not them. As much as I love their writing, I can’t be them. If I try to be them, I stop being me. Only I can be me. Only you can be you.

“I can’t be them. If I try to be them, I stop being me. Only I can be me. Only you can be you.”

Only you can be you. You can’t be someone else and no one else can be you.

So stop looking at what others are doing to copy them; instead learn from them.

What do you dream to do?

What would change if you put plan together for your dream? What would change if you gave it the focus it deserves. What if you embraced how God has made you and wired you?

Krista, along with every other athlete went into the Olympics with a dream and a plan. She prepared and competed the only way she could. Krista ran her race. She may have hoped to finish higher than 35th, I don’t know. But she fulfilled a dream of competing at the highest level in her sport. She’s an Olympian and she’s awesome…her way.

Run your own race.


Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.