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Albert Einstein’s Genius Approach to Sleep

Most people don’t associate Albert Einstein with sleep or the invention of paper towels, but the first physics paper he ever published analyzed wicking.

He was trying to explain how a candlewick draws hot wax upward when gravity wants to pull it down. Later known as capillary action, the principle of wicking is what allows paper towels to absorb and hold that apple juice a toddler tosses onto the countertop. 

The German genius who developed the Theory of Relativity was also highly aware of his sleep needs. He professed to needing 10 hours of sleep each night to properly function. 

At the opposite end of the sleep spectrum, inventor Thomas Edison only slept three or four hours each night and believed sleep was a waste of time, “a heritage from our cave days.” But, Edison also napped during the day, apparently unable to escape that primitive nocturnal need that prepares every person’s brain to operate at its highest level. 

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If we had to choose whether Einstein or Edison is smarter about sleep, Einstein wins this contest because sleep needs are biological. Clearly, Edison wasn’t getting enough sleep or he’d have been alert and awake during the day. 

You can’t fudge your actual sleep needs. Sure, like the inventor of the lightbulb you can get by on a few hours each night, but each person’s biological needs are different. If you’re not awake and alert all day, you’re missing the amount of sleep you need. 

Your sleep needs are genetically determined, similar to eye color and your height. 

Most adults need eight hours of sleep. About half a percent of people feel bright eyed and bushy tailed on six hours of sleep. President Calvin Coolidge demanded eleven hours of sleep each night. 

You don’t have to be Einstein to educate customers about their genetic predisposition to needing a certain amount of sleep. By helping them understand this need, it will give them permission to invest in longer slumbers that will help them live life more awake and aware.

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