Confessions of A Sleepyhead

A friend was telling me about a study in which a small group of introverts need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night in order to perform at their peak. Immediately, I recognized myself as belonging to this small group. I’ve often wondered why it is that any night I get any less than 9 hours of sleep I feel groggy, slow, and like I just want to go back to bed. Turns out that this is an actual condition.

What is it about introverts that requires us to need more sleep? I don’t know much about it, but I’ve read, or heard, somewhere (perhaps from the same friend, who’s fascinated with personality types), that introverts are drained by being around people – in contrast to extroverts, who actually gain energy from being around people. So if an introvert, for example, has a job in which he is constantly performing for, with, and around people, it might make sense for him to need more sleep than a non-introvert.

For the more extreme introverts, 9 to 12 hours may not even be sufficient. If an introvert falling into this rare category finds himself needing more sleep to recover from an added energy-drain, she may be looking at, say, 13 to 17 hours of sleep, in order to bounce back.

Of course, this is all speculation. Introverts and extroverts all have their quirks – and every person is different, after all. An introvert reading this might feel relief that there are others like him. I know I did. Luckily, I’m in a position to where if I want to sleep all day, there’s really nothing stopping me. But what about those who aren’t so lucky?

I’m not suggesting that introverts should start their own Sleep Revolution and sleep all day, getting up only to go to work (not saying that hasn’t worked for me before). But our relationship with sleep is an important one – no matter the personality type – and couldn’t be more undermined by today’s social and cultural expectations.

On Sleep

Sleep has become a new focus of mine. I first became acquainted with the importance of sleep only recently, when listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the James Altucher Show, in which he interviews Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and author of the book The Sleep Revolution.

I won’t go into statistics or start listing off facts, but yeah – let’s just say sleep is pretty cool. Most inhabitants of Planet Earth are underslept, and are oblivious to this and wondering why symptoms in their health, work and personal lives are showing up. I am no model sleeper – I still fall into this category. But I’ve become fascinated with the science and practicality of sleep.

A few days after listening to Sleep Revolution on audiobook, I had the first full, good night’s sleep in a long while, and I remember feeling refreshed in a way that I hadn’t felt in weeks. (That’s because sleep reorganizes and rehabilitates your brain as well as your body, providing you with an improved mental attitude and allowing new perspectives to form). That’s when it really “dawned” on me (see what I did there?) – I was hooked.

The importance of perspective when it comes to simply being “Happy” cannot be denied – Happiness Advantage author Shawn Achor writes, “by changing the way we perceive ourselves and our work, we can dramatically improve our results.” [p. 78] If good sleep can provide a playing field for new, healthier perspectives, it makes sense to do everything one can to set up his or her life to maximize good quality sleep.

Since that night, I’ve become addicted to the question of “how can I get not only sufficient but uninterrupted, deep sleep as many nights as possible”? Turns out that this question can’t exactly be answered in a single blog post. To actually accomplish this requires, like any indispensable facet of life, looking at and factoring in how it fits into all of the other puzzle pieces. What do I want to get done the following morning (or, in my case, afternoon)? When will I be turning in that night (or early morning)? Did I have naps that day? Caffeine? Are the conditions ideal for good sleep (blacked out room, earplugs, eye mask, etc.)?

I like Sleep, but not only for the reasons one might think. I like it because it forces me to ask bigger questions about my life. Sleep is one of the Big Three, the other two being Diet and Exercise. I see these three as being the roots from which all other facets of life spring. To become curious about them indicates that we’re starting to ask some bigger questions, which, if we stay curious, will improve the quality of our lives in general in the long run.

 

Playing the Chips You’re Dealt

My voice is tired.

Change is good, but always involves re-adjusting. One of the re-adjustments I’ve had to make involves the new demands on my vocal cords. Three to four shows a week, at three and a half hours of stage time per show, coming out to between 11.25 and 15 hours of stage time per week. Now, I split this stage time with my partner, so as far as actual singing time, we’re looking at between roughly 6 and 8 hours of all-out singing per week, not including harmonies. I don’t care who you are – that’s a lot of singing. And that’s a reserved calculation.

Now, I’m used to exerting my voice – I had been doing the freelance Dueling Pianos things now for just about five and a half years – but this takes it to a whole new level of responsibility.

All of this being what it is, I’m noticing that my voice is starting to show some signs of strain. I’m also noticing that I am becoming increasingly preoccupied with this fact. I might even go so far as to say that this preoccupation is accompanied by some concern, even worry.

We’re all familiar. Everything else may be going just beautifully, but this one thing just seats itself here, and we can’t help but focus on that one thing, and now it becomes a problem. It becomes a problem because we know that, although small and bothersome now, like a thorn in the side or a chip on the shoulder, it could grow into something much more tangible and challenging, if unattended.

I’ve found that, in my experience at least, I am usually carrying around at least one of these little “problems” on any given day. If it’s not one, it’s another. I don’t think it actually ever goes away.

So the “little problem” that could become a Big Scary Problem is always hanging out, always there, in some form or another. “But it’s different this time,” I might say. “We’re talking about my livelihood here.” Yes, and?

The reality is, it seems to me, that this “problem,” this “chip on my shoulder”, bears no more potential harm than yesterday’s “chip”. I had one yesterday, and I don’t really remember what it was. I’m guessing that’s because I took care of it.

So, if you’re anything like me, and your Movie is just great, and every scene wonderful, except for this “one thing” … Calm down. Chill out. You’ll get it taken care of.

You’ll get it taken care of, just in time for the next one.

Life On The Road!

Hello, all!

Lots of stuff going on – too much to really put into an organized blog post. Still, I’ll share a few snippets! I’ve been really excited about everything lately, partially because of all the great connections I’m making and the ways I’ve been making them. Nashville really is the right town for the right biz! And I know I used to be all negative about social media (some of you might remember a long rant I posted about social media and its throes), but I think now I’m finally starting to see the massive value in it and to enjoy learning how it works and participating!

I am actually composing this in bed. (Haha!) I have a head cold and really have nothing better to do! I’m actually, in all seriousness, recovering from the last two weeks, which really have been full of strenuous travel. But I’ve been telling myself how exhilarating it actually is and believing it too! So I really don’t mind the cold. Actually, I’m kind of enjoying resting for a couple of days before I head off to my next stint, a dueling pianos show in Indianola, IA (don’t ask me anything about the place, ha!). It IS a 10 hour drive from Nashville, so to alleviate some of the grueling hours I’ll be heading up to Louisville on Thursday to hang with some old friends and relive some times. Then, off to Iowa!

Last weekend was a fun one in Royal Oak, MI playing with Frank Turner, Ryan Miles, and a long lost dueler buddy, Katy Marquardt. She’s a very bright and talented lady based out of Chicago, Illinois. We met a few years ago at the Louisville Howl at the Moon and had seen each other a couple of times since then. It was cool to be on a gig with her at a different time and place and to see how we had both grown as entertainers. She really inspired me, as she had learned it seemed hundreds of new songs since I last saw her, and making me feel like I need to up my game! Thanks Katy!

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I also met a bunch of super cool new people who I hope to consider my friends from now on! This is why I love traveling and the work I do. 🙂

Let’s see, what else… in Nashville news, met up with the great Dean Madonia last night at an awesome venue here in town called Douglas Corner. What wonderful musicians! There had been an hour set of a fantastic jazz/funk trio led by Val Lupescu (check out his stuff on SoundCloud – you’ll be glad you did), followed by an hour or two of an open jam session led by Lupescu himself. Both Dean and I sat in (here’s a pic on Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/fMLobswGgy/). Again, I was blown away by the talent on the stage and the general vibe of the room. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for somewhere cool to go on a Monday night!

Well, I suppose that’s it for now. Time to start thinking about chicken soup… As usual, thanks for reading!!

 

-P

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POST SCRIPTUM

These past couple of weeks have really been eye-opening and life-changing for me… I’ve realized that really there is nothing blocking me from achieving my highest aspirations, that life is infinite, and that I have the power to be who I want to be! It’s all very liberating and awesome and I hope to share that through some new music which I’ll be recording very soon on my new upright piano! As an addendum, I wanted to add some podcast channels I’ve been listening to on my long drives that have helped pump my state even more! If you have a smart phone and don’t have the app, “Pocketcasts,” download it now. It’s only four bucks and it is so worth it, as it is chock full of podcasts from so many cool sources. Here’s the ones I’ve subscribed and been listening to:

Brent Smith Lifestyle

This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt – Hyatt is actually a Nashville cat who is super into marketing and selling yourself in a constructive way. He wrote a book, I forget the name but the subtitle is something like, “Getting Yourself Heard In A Noisy World”… I’m going to Google it and buy it and I suggest you do the same!

The Dave Ramsey Show – my chiropractor actually told me about this one, haha. Dave is cool when it comes to practically managing money (and he’s based in Nashville too, go figure).

The Good Life Project – hosted by a variety of amazing hosts, this is a must for any entrepreneur (and that’s all of us). I could give you the link but I suggest you just go Google it. Seriously, right now. Do it.

Check these out and respond with comments letting me know how/if they helped you out in any way, or if anything in this or any of my blog posts is enjoyable to you! 🙂