The Science of Sleep, Startup Mistakes, and The Mysteries of Creativity - This Week's Friday Favourites

Posted by Amy Wallace Amy Wallace on .

There are many great articles online but it’s easy to miss them in the daily flurry of digital information. Even with RSS readers and read-later services, it’s easy to overlook some great blog posts throughout the week.

So we’ve rounded up some of our favourite blog posts that we read this week. If we’ve missed your favourite post, blog or author, or you simply have a suggestion for us, please let us know in the comments below! We love to discover new and wonderful writers!

1) How Much Sleep is Enough?

Getting enough sleep is essential to performing at your peak at work as well as in life outside work and the downsides to sleep deprivation are many. It's not easy to get a good grasp of your own sleep patterns though. With a recommendation of 6 to 8 hours a night, there's a huge range, and it's not always obvious if you're getting too much or not enough sleep.

Laura Entis has written an article exploring the science behind sleep as well as the concept of short sleepers, people who naturally sleep just 4 or so hours a night. While many of us can only dream of having so many extra hours to get things done, most of us need double that to be at our best. 

Needing an average of 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night shouldn't be seen as a disadvantage though. In fact, getting less sleeping with the hope of becoming a short sleeper will only result in less efficiency during the hours you are awake.

Entis writes that:

As a culture, sleep deprivation has increasingly become both a status symbol – not having time to sleep means you must be important – as well as evidence of a strong work ethic. This is especially true in the hyper-productive, ultra-competitive fish bowl that is the entrepreneurial community, where a good night’s sleep is often bastardized as a luxury reserved for the lazy.

While sleeping 4 hours less every night would give you more time, working smarter rather than harder can improve your overall productivity to a point where you don't feel a loss of those 4 extra hours.

If you're sleep deprived, you might not work as efficiently during those extra working hours, and as studies have shown, you might not even realise that you are sleep deprived and working less well.

Getting a full night's sleep can make a huge difference to your health both mentally and physically, and if you incorporate exercise, healthy eating and meditation into your schedule, you might just find yourself more productive that you were when you were working more hours in the day.

Read on to see some other interesting studies and information about sleep.

2) Business Books

If you're trying to build your own business or are simply interested in the subject, reading books is a great way to absorb knowledge from people who have had business experience first-hand, or who have studied others building businesses.

Amy Whyte at Inc has listed 4 new business books to read this month that could help you find inspiration.

One of them is "The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success" by Megan McArdle.

Whyte writes that: 

In The Up Side of Down, Megan McArdle argues how failure can actually be a good thing, drawing on her personal career and relationship failures in addition to evidence from psychology, business, economics and medicine.
What You Can Learn From It: McArdle gives examples of how defeat has been handled positively by herself and others, teaching readers how to embrace their own failures and use them as a jumping off point for future success.

Head over to the post to discover the other three and expand your reading list for April. 

3) Startup Mistakes

Kathryn Minshew is the co-founder of The Daily Muse and has had a lot of experience building and growing startups. In a 99u talk, Kathryn gives her advice to entrepreneurs new and old, drawn directly from her own experiences.

Explaining her experience trying to build The Daily Muse after being accepted into Y Combinator, Kathryn says that:

We really needed to simplify. We wanted to distill down all the brilliant things we thought we might want to do at some point into the one core thing that our existing team could execute on, ideally within 7 to 10 days.


I'm not particularly proud of this product, it's not the most beautiful thing we've ever done but it accoplished the point, which was putting something out there in the world that explained the essence of what we were trying to do with the Muse so we could see how people reacted.

Starting your own business is difficult but getting advice from others who have gone through similar situations and experience is an excellent way to help you be as successful as possible.

Head over to 99u to watch Kathryn's talk and hear about her own experiences growing The Daily Muse.

4) Building Long Term Habits

Focusing on productivity and habits might seem like it's a waste of time, detracting from the effort you can spend on your work itself. But making even the smallest of gradual changes upon which you can build better habits can go a long way towards making you feel more confident, creative, and productive.

James Clear has written about the idea of creating identity-based habits, which help you stick to your habits for the long term.

In this recent blog post, he again addresses the importance of linking your identity to your goals:

Let’s say you want to become the type of person who never misses a workout. (If you believed that about yourself, how much easier would it be to get in shape?) Every time you choose to do a workout — even if it’s only 5 minutes — you’re casting a vote for this new identity in your mind. Every action is a vote for the type of person you want to become.

James's blog is always full of great tips and tricks to help you get into better habits and if your attempts to change your habits haven't yet yielded perfect results, you might find the one piece of inspiration you need to get back on the horse. Check out this post about the role identity plays in your long-term habits to learn more!

5) Missing Creativity

Creativity often feels like an elusive power that others seem to have in abundance while it escapes us personally. On his blog, Farnam Street, Shane Parrish highlights an interview with with Jennifer Mueller and Shankar Vedantam about creativity. 

We found that when we told people the idea was generated far away, they rated the idea as significantly more creative than when the idea was generated nearby.

We’re talking about how a manager, a boss, would evaluate an idea that’s brought to them.

So it seems to happen … because our minds are prone to mixing these two things up. When things are nearby, they’re concrete and you can see the details of the things. On the other hand, when things are far away, they’re much more abstract. So thinking about things that are near and far puts us in different mental states. When you think about things nearby, you see the details, and so when a creative idea comes along, the first thing you ask is, can it work?

Changing the way we look at other people's work and that of the people we work in relation to our own with can make a big difference to the way we view creativity itself.

Take a look at the post here to see more of the interview and learn some interesting news attitudes to creativity.

Let us know what you thought of these posts or if you have any suggestions for next week's post in the comments below, or say hi by Tweeting us or sending us an email