The Owls and the Larks

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🛌Work-Sleep Balance

Depriving ourselves of sleep is the most self detrimental action we take on a day-to-day basis. We fawn over hustle porn, yet fail to acknowledge its life-altering effects. If you had a friend who was self-harming, surely you’d take action to get them help. So why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself?

Consistently sleeping less than six or seven hours per night can lead to a slew of consequences including a weakened immune system, increased risks of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and blockage of coronary arteries, and further contributing to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc.

Serious effects aside, we all know the feeling of waking up after getting a great sleep: more alertness and energy, heightened productivity, and most importantly, an increased sense of happiness. Unfortunately, many of us also know how few and far between these great sleeps come.

Enter sleep tech.

(📸/ The Telegraph)

A booming industry using technology to monitor and enhance our sleep, the sleep tech device market is projected to be worth over $32 billion by 2026. The market consists of two product categories, wearables and non-wearables. Here are a few examples:

Wearables: Oura Ring, Whoop, Fitbit, Dreem, Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Glasses, Philips SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband

Non Wearables: Eight Sleep Pod Mattress, Hatch Restore, Dodow sleep device, 10minds Motion Anti-Snore Pillow, Bearaby Weighted Blankets

Keep in mind, there are thousands of products to help improve your sleep and new entrants to the industry each month. These are just a few of the best sellers that came to mind. For a more comprehensive review of these products, check out this video where Nat Eliason explains why he spent over $4,500 on sleep equipment.

While these products are helpful, there is a larger issue at hand contributing to the plague of sleep deprivation. One that no amount of money or fancy sleep technology can fix.

To date, companies tend to view employees’ sleep and health as two separate entities, with much of the impetus surrounding the latter. This is something that I’ve always found puzzling considering that sleeplessness accounts for an estimated $63 billion in lost productivity every year in the United States. Even the most progressive companies that invest in employee health and wellness fail to recognize the effect that their employees’ quality of sleep has on their bottom line.

This isn’t to say that they don’t care, but rather they are addressing the problem incorrectly. The solution to this fundamentally flawed misconception is deep-rooted in the early stages of our evolution.

Every person in the world has a chronotype, a genetic tendency to fall asleep or be alert at a certain time of day. While there are multiple chronotypes, nearly 70 percent of the population identify as one of the following: morning larks (sleep early, rise early) or night owls (sleep late, rise late).

According to Dr. Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, humans likely evolved to sleep in groups instead of individually. Picture a group of neanderthals sleeping in a cave, protecting their camp from invaders: The morning larks would fall asleep early in the night, while the night owls sat watch, protecting the camp. Then, the larks would take over early in the morning while the night owls slept late. There were very few hours where both groups were sleeping at the same time and the camp was completely vulnerable, half as many as there would’ve been if everyone had the same sleep pattern. This schedule optimized for the prime waking hours of each chronotype, where they were the most alert, energized and productive. So why can’t the same happen in business?

In the book he notes that standard work schedules put night owls in a bind. Forcing them to adhere to traditional working hours disrupts their natural rhythm which hinders their productivity during work hours and robs them of the ability to shine in the times when they work best. This activity feeds into a cycle of sleep deprivation which further exacerbates the negative effects. Right now, much of the focus around work-life balance is dedicated to limiting the amount of hours that employees work, when instead it should be focused on optimizing these work periods.

Building work schedules around employee chronotypes increases productivity and minimizes the risk of waking up to dumpster fires or missed sales opportunities.

Support ticket placed at 2am? No problem. An alert and cheery customer service rep is available to help.

A west coast customer looking to make a midnight purchase at an east coast run company? Easy. A night owl salesperson is around to offer a hand and answer questions.

This is especially helpful when working with overseas vendors or across time zones, improving workflow of teams who currently operate under communication lags of up to nearly 24 hours. The uptick in employee freedom is also a strong selling point for future top talent which when put in the right positions will lead to more profit.

It’s been less than a year and we’re already experiencing severe Zoom fatigue, finally acknowledging that most meetings are productivity killers. Asynchronous communication tools like Loom, Slack, and Yac have been designed to decrease meeting times, streamline communications between team members, and make organizations more productive. As the future of work continues to shift, I expect to see top companies let employees choose their work hours, relying less on meetings and more on asynchronous communication for day-to-day team interaction. Important team or company-wide meetings will be conducted during the middle of the day at times that fit both chronotypes. Teams will start to have respect for employees’ sleep, the way they do for their physical and mental health.

More freedom. More sleep. More talent. More profit. Everyone wins.

For a full list and links to all products listed above, click here.


🎙️Monday Interviews

Due to Thanksgiving and a scheduling conflict, I wasn’t able to record this week’s interview. Instead, you can catch up on some previous interviews:

Gaby Goldberg - Investing in Cults

Alex and Books - How to Become a Better Reader

Rob Karp - The Future of Travel in COVID

Brandon Zhang - Mental Models & Productivity

Toby Howell - Behind the Scenes at Morning Brew

I’ll be back with a new interview (and a name for the series) next Monday. Stay tuned!


🧰Tool of the Week

Meet Camo, an app that lets you turn your iPhone or iPad into a professional webcam. It supports all major chat apps (Zoom, Slack, Teams, Webex), allowing you to adjust the video and add effects directly from your computer without fiddling with your phone.

I came across Camo while growing increasingly frustrated with my webcam hunt and can’t wait to use it. While it’s an annual subscription ($40), I can guarantee you won’t find a better quality camera for the price.

Interested? Use the code CYBERCAMO for 40 percent off until December 4th.

Enjoyed this edition? Let me know by clicking one of the links below.

If you’re new here and want to look back on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: The Art of Getting Lucky and When in RoamYou can also follow me on Twitter or check out randymginsburg.com for more writing.

Thanks for reading,

Randy