Sleep is arguably the most essential part of the skill development process.
And it’s both the least prioritized and the most compromised (by chronic distractions, an “always-on” and overworked culture, and nonstop social stimuli and stressors, to name but a few detractors).
If you consistently get solid sleep, you can learn faster, remember better, and develop more skills.
If you fail to get good quality sleep, no amount of learning or practice will matter. Your body and brain simply won’t have the resources to make use of your efforts.
I’ll emphasize that:
If you aren’t getting sound sleep, almost everything else you do is being compromised (especially in the long term).
Artists who have neglected their sleep can often see an immediate uptick in their abilities overnight, simply because their brain and body has finally received the restoration it sorely needs.
Many artists ignore this. They’re convinced that it couldn’t be that important.
But I always make the assumption that I’m operating at half the capacity that’s possible.
It keeps me in a state of constant improvement, open to changing and growing.
Sleep was like that for me.
I used to get very few hours of sleep per night. And my sleep was rarely during the window of time in which maximum rejuvenation takes place.
It was no wonder I was groggy in the morning, slow throughout the day, and barely able to pay attention (let alone learn or practice deeply).
Making sleep a priority changed everything for me. The pun is lame, but it’s appropriate: It changed everything overnight.
- I could suddenly focus deeply.
- I could sustain my attention.
- I could learn faster (and was eager to learn in the first place).
- I could memorize complex music within minutes instead of hours.
- I had the energy to practice, to face my mistakes, and to make more art.
Don’t skimp on sleep.
Here’s a Deep Dive into how and why it’s essential, and how you can up-level your sleep once and for all…
Why Sleep is Important and How it Aids in Installing Skills
No one yet knows precisely what the brain does during sleep.
But we know sleep is important. And we’ve made some notable discoveries that can aid us in our quest to install guitar skills.
The strongest theories suggest that the sleeping brain’s primary mechanism serves our––you guessed it––survival.
It’s speculated that sleep itself is a biological time management tool.
It was maladaptive for us to be awake during the dead of night, because we have a harder time accomplishing the tasks necessary to keep us alive––hunting and gathering, tending to crops, traveling to a milder climate or seeking shelter.
This theory stems from examining the behavior of fellow mammals. For example, the brown bat, which sleeps for 20 hours per day, is only awake during dusk. Why? Because that’s when the mosquitoes are plentiful.
But the brain––which is highly active during sleep––takes priming for survival a step further. While the body rests, the brain makes use of the information it gathered throughout its waking hours.
In fact, much to our interest, it uses that information to solidify skills. And recent studies have shown that each stage of sleep after Stage 1 is specialized to consolidate a specific kind of skill.
- Stage 1:
- Unknown, but can’t be skipped
- REM (Rapid Eye Movement):
- Pattern recognition
- Perceiving relationships previously undetected
- Build associations and combine things in different ways
- Interpreting emotionally-charged memories
- Stage 2:
- Motor learning and memory
- Hand-eye coordination
- Mechanical skills
- Stages 3 and 4:
- Retention and recall
Seen in this light, you might think of REM sleep as the center of Percolation. It’s your unconscious catalyst for sharpening emotional and creative skills like songwriting and improvisation.
Stage 2 is your champion of physical skills––like the muscle movements required to alternate pick fast.
Stage 3 and 4 is your means to hone mental skills––things that require memorization, like songs, music theory, and chord vocabulary.
Getting the full dose of all five stages is the meaning of a good night’s sleep. Each stage compliments and builds on the work of the other stages.
When you combine the skill-enhancing benefits of all four stages of sleep, you get:
- Memory Consolidation
- Emotional Regulation
- Problem Solving
Let’s take a closer look at each, so we can learn how to direct them toward installing our targeted skill.
Consider the insane volume of neural connections the brain is forced to make in the course of any given day. “At some point, we have to decide which of these connections are worth holding on to, and which can be safely ignored.”
Every night, a whirlwind of impressions swim around in our heads when we shut off the lights. That’s when the brain begins to sort out the meaningful from the trivial, based on its primary indicator of importance – survival. And with access to the subconscious and the absence of conscious stimuli, the brain is able to make connections during sleep that it can’t make while awake.
This process, referred to by neuroscientists as memory consolidation, appears to involve two simultaneous procedures:
- Weakening rarely used neural connections
- Strengthening the patterns of newly-formed memories and the neural circuits that host them
The brain strengthens these new memories by replaying them, sometimes over and over.
Neuroscientist Mayank Mehta likened this process to erasing the chalkboard so new chalk marks don’t overlap and get confused with old ones.
And then, during REM sleep, the brain assimilates new learning into your current collection of memories. It integrates new material with the old.
It starts to see how new scales you’re learning correspond with chord progressions you already know. It syncs up the similarities between sweep picking and economy picking. It links movements and patterns up to music you’ve memorized.
This process requires extracting what’s worth learning from the day’s onslaught of input, connecting it to related memories, and filing it away in existing neural networks for further use. It’s like a change sorter, separating coins into different slots––based on size and shape––for storage.
And the more we learn by day, the longer we spend in REM sleep by night.
In this way, sleep is partially responsible for our ability to take a new skill we are learning and interweave it into our repertoire – the other skills we’ve already installed.
But how does the brain know which memories are worth remembering? Why are some experiences seared into our memory while others fade away? And why should the brain care about the skills you’re gaining on the guitar?
That’s where emotion comes in.
Think of all the cars you pass by while driving on the freeway. Too many to count, right? None of them stick out, and you forget them fast. In terms of memory consolidation, this is how our brain experiences the events of every day.
But if one of the cars cuts you off and you have to swerve to avoid a collision? That one sticks out immediately.
Sleep selectively recalls emotionally-charged incidents over the neutral, innocuous ones. While awake, our fight-or-flight response marks these experiences for review; to be worked and reworked, unraveled and rewoven, while sleeping.
The strongest events are those that are highlighted by the neurochemicals adrenaline––sparked by dread, or anandamide––sparked by bliss.
A threat to our survival. The death of a loved one. A major rejection. A natural disaster. Getting your guitar stolen. These things stick with us whether we like it or not.
The birth of a baby. Kissing the bride. Accomplishing a lifelong goal. Breaking a new speed record on the guitar. Winning the lottery.
These are the moments that stick out to the mind, and the brain can safely ignore the rest.
This is good news for us, because the process of myelinating often activates our fight-or-flight response. Playing on the bleeding edge of our abilities and struggling to stay afloat is an experience the brain will want to work on and resolve while we sleep.
To make best use of those emotionally-charged memories, REM sleep functions as a sort of “overnight therapy.”
At first, the emotion of an experience tends to be louder than whatever there is to learn from it. In order to effectively learn, we need to strip the memory of its emotional charge. Otherwise, the emotion can get the better of us. It can distract us from our priorities and rob us of optimal performance.
The brain does this emotion-distillation process during REM sleep. It repeats salient memories again and again to diffuse the emotion but still retain the essential learning. It’s separating the signal from the noise.
It can pull this off partially because it’s the only time during a 24-hour cycle when our levels of norepinephrine (a kind of adrenaline) are lowest. This chemical stillness makes room for us to sift through the emotional charge of a memory and harvest whatever we can learn from it.
Instead of feeling the blinding frustration caused by our choppy timing or inconsistent picking dynamics… we can just see the problem clearly and recognize possible solutions.
In short; sleep helps us forget the emotion but remember the lesson.
This is another distinct advantage of the Strategic Interruption we talked about earlier… The “shock” of the interruption alone can make the experience more emotionally-charged, and thus, memorable.
And there’s another benefit to stripping away emotion to solidify learning and assimilating it with current memories:
Sometimes, the solution to a problem in your playing just can’t be worked out while awake. Some problems are best to outsource to your subconscious. And even the problems that aren’t all that vexing are worth letting your subconscious taking a stab at.
Memories are often stored in far-flung areas of the brain that don’t normally communicate with each other while conscious. By letting the subconscious make connections with these memories that can’t normally be made during waking hours, creative breakthroughs can happen.
Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night, struck by a sudden aha! moment? Perhaps you remembered where you put your pick, or a brilliant riff idea needs to be written down.
You’re not alone.
Many of the great discoveries throughout history came into consciousness while sleeping, via dreams. Mendeleev’s Periodic Table. Descartes’ Scientific Method. Wallace’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
It’s nice when sleep drops the solution to our playing problem right into our lap, no doubt. But more often than not, as science reporter Benedict Carey observed, sleep “simply primes our minds to be able to arrive at the answer ourselves.”
And of course, sleep-induced Percolation doesn’t always deliver big breakthroughs or some sudden, golden insight. That’s perfectly fine. If it provides a detail here or there, it incrementally sharpens our attention so we can recognize a bigger picture.
Sometimes this slow-but-steady sharpening takes a while to compound, but leads to an explosion in skill at just the right moment.
When I first learned about how sleep consolidates freshly-forming skills and extracts learning from emotionally-charged experiences, my nights changed for the better.
When I was installing economy picking, for the first couple of weeks, I was still confined to using it with certain exercises. It hadn’t become a natural part of my playing. That didn’t change until I primed my brain to percolate about economy picking during sleep.
After learning about the power of sleep, the very first time I drifted off, courtesy of percolation, my brain cooked up a handful of scenarios that would help me address my weaknesses with economy picking at the time. It was like a light turned on in my head.
Simultaneously, in the very same slumber, sleep helped me untie an emotional knot I had regarding the fear of a friend of mine committing suicide. This freed up mental and emotional resources that were being exhausted on something I couldn’t change.
Then, night after night, I’d be economy picking either in my dreams or in those intervals of semi-consciousness often experienced in during REM. Specifically, I noticed that economy picking wasn’t dependent on starting with an odd number of pick strokes, like I previously thought.
Rather, I could still pick an even number of notes, but start with an upstroke (or downstroke, respectively) to change the direction of my economy picking at any time.
Now, this wasn’t actually new information. I understood this distinction during my waking hours, at least intellectually. But I hadn’t integrated it into my playing. And while I slept, that’s what my brain would do; change directions and economy pick, over and over.
With each ensuing deep practice session, changing direction became more comfortable. And I wondered why I didn’t just do it all along.
How to Take Advantage of Sleep for Skill Installation
So now you know and can act accordingly; sleep is good. Sleep is critical. It’s not something that can be skipped.
If you’re anything like me, I used to think otherwise. Especially when it came to skill development. I felt like every second my eyes were shut were seconds I could’ve been investing in new skills. But this simply isn’t true.
The latest science says exactly the opposite: “unconscious downtime clarifies memory and sharpens skills. Sleep is a necessary step to lock in both. In a fundamental sense, sleep is learning.”
Benedict Carey put it perfectly:
“I no longer think of naps or knocking off early as evidence of laziness, or a waste of time, or, worst of all, a failure of will. I think of sleep as learning with my eyes closed.”
And on the flip side… without sleep, we suffer.
Sleep deprivation turns us into toddlers. It makes us more reckless, emotionally fragile, and less able to focus. It can even make us sick. And of course, without sleep over time; we die.
Without enough sleep, emotional regulation (or, “overnight therapy”) can’t occur. Without sleep, we become reactive. We are more likely to respond to negative stimuli and ignore positivity. We can become impulsive and aggressive.
I think it goes without saying; if you’re prone to throw a tiny tantrum as you fumble and make mistakes while practicing – you’re going to myelinate suboptimally. Responding negatively to every mistake you make will hold you back and make your deep practice sessions frustrating instead of fruitful.
Perhaps worst of all, without sleep, we become more mentally and emotionally rigid – which is the antithesis of the neuroplastic state we want our brains to be in, Neuroplasticity is mandatory for myelination.
So here’s a Mindshift you can use to help embed this into your brain:
Sleep is sacred. It’s an ancient means of keeping me alive, and the key to greatly enhancing my skills.
The sleeping brain’s role in installing skills is incredible and interesting, no doubt. But rather than just be a passive beneficiary of this process, we can use sleep’s crucial role in retention, comprehension, problem-solving, and emotional regulation to our advantage.
Here’s the best part: You’re already poised to reap substantial skill-enhancing rewards from sleep by virtue of understanding and appreciating the alchemy that sleep conducts on your brain. Simply by being aware of sleep’s vital role, you’ll start to notice it happening, and pay more attention as it does.
Of course, benefiting from the knowledge of how sleep works is one thing. Treating your sleep as vital accordingly, and thus deriving further benefit is yet another thing.
But now let’s explore some ways we can direct our sleep to be as fruitful as possible when it comes to installing skills. Knowing what we know, let’s influence sleep to prime our subconscious and supercharge our progress.
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #1 – Myelin Mapping
We’ve already covered the power of Myelin Mapping. But now let’s use our vivid visualization prowess to amplify percolation.
Just before falling asleep, imagine playing perfectly the skill you’re currently installing. See, hear, and feel as much detail in your mind’s eye as you can. I recommend focusing primarily on a single nano-movement that you’re struggling with.
By doing this, not only does it help direct your brain’s memory consolidation motors, it may cause you to dream about playing the skill, which will give you perspective. If you’re anything like me, I always wake up throughout the night, and it seems without even thinking about it, I’m Myelin Mapping.
Just the other night, I woke up a good half dozen times, and almost every time I did, I was Myelin Mapping… but what was far more fascinating and productive about this phenomenon is that I was Myelin Mapping new scenarios that I’ve never actually played that would so obviously supercharge my abilities with my targeted skill!
When I was installing economy picking, during sleep, I was haunted by this 3-1-3-1-3-1 pattern, and its reverse; 1-3-1-3-1-3.
This scenario was a perfect way to train myself to hit all of the strings without sweep picking, whether ascending or descending. I don’t know why this improvement opportunity wasn’t apparent to me while awake, but I’m sure glad sleep illuminated it for me.
My brain was giving me the next steps, the next scenarios to drill during my deep practice session.
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #2 – Myelin Movies
The power of Myelin Movies (which we cover in the Incubation module of Guitar Acceleration) is supercharged if you watch them just before bed. Especially if you pour a lot of focus and fantasy into the experience. This charges the memory with emotion so that sleep will consolidate it.
I keep it simple, and as I watch I just tell myself, “This. This is what is important for me to be able to do.”
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #3 – Bleed Before Bed
If you have a guitar handy by your bedside, you can take this up another notch.
Before you hit the lights, grab the guitar and play through a scenario that you’re struggling with a few times, on the bleeding edge of your comfort zone. And, to prime percolation, Strategically Interrupt yourself just when you are the most engaged.
But be warned; by doing this, it’s quite possible your mind won’t shut up about it and it’ll be working on the scenario all night long. Playing on the bleeding edge + strategic interruption + sleep-induced percolation = a skill-installing slumber.
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #4 – Emotional Anchoring
This one is arguably the most important, and it will maximize the effectiveness of all of the previous SESHs (Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hacks).
As we’ve learned, the brain doesn’t mark a memory for review if it doesn’t have a sufficiently significant emotional charge.
So let’s conduct an emotional charge around the skill we’re installing.
Start by asking… How do you make what you are learning emotionally salient enough so that during your REM sleep cycle it gets seared into your brain?
It’s true that during your deep practice session, if you were myelinating properly, you’ve likely already activated a fight-or-flight response while working on your targeted skill. If nothing else, the stress of myelinating triggered some sort of emotion. And that’s good. But as always, let’s turn the volume up some more…
This is where Fantasy and Fear are highly useful.
As you watch your Myelin Movie, or as you Myelin Map––or possibly as you Bleed Before Bed… Let yourself fantasize.
This is when it helps to tap into your Why – the underlying reason for mastering the guitar in the first place. Bring your Why to mind as you play, and let yourself relish the thought of achieving your desired level of mastery.
See yourself playing flawlessly, with complete confidence and control.
See yourself creating, writing, and performing anything your heart desires, with fun and ease.
See yourself commanding the crowd and slaying the stage, basking in the sound of admiring applause.
Whatever dreams surround your playing, whatever your Why, ignite it and let it fly free before you sleep. Inject excitement into your brain.
On the flip side, you can leverage Fear.
This might sound strange, but fear works. In fact, research shows that on average, human beings are twice as motivated by fear than we are desire. The fear of loss trumps the fear of acquisition.
Now, you don’t have to traumatize yourself with some sort of Whiplash situation. But you can still use fear to your advantage.
- Imagine having to play in front of an audience of other guitar players you admire.
- Imagine being rejected by your peers due to poor performance.
- Imagine having to play a show without having mastered what you’re about to play.
- Imagine what it would feel like to mess up royally during your set, and cause the rest of the band to fumble in your clumsy wake.
Fear is a powerful, emotional motivator. It can help you commit things to memory so that REM sleep can consolidate and deepen it.
Try Fantasy one night. Try Fear another. And then try both. See what works for you to trigger sleep’s Skill-Enhancing mechanisms. The point is to soak the skill you’re installing in emotional significance. Make it matter so your brain will percolate all night.
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #5 – Napping
Napping is sleeping, too. This is obvious, but the implications are huge:
60-90 minute naps contain slow-wave deep sleep and REM. Experiments have shown that with naps of this length, you get close to the same benefits in learning consolidation that you would from a full eight-hour night’s sleep.
Doing more than one deep practice session per day will accelerate your progress, no doubt. But you can get even more out of any additional myelination sessions per day if there’s a nap in between. This works especially well if you are learning new material. As far as learning is concerned, for your brain, this is like two days in one.
Multiple studies have now proven that when learning new things, if there’s a period of sleep in between the moment we learn and the moment we’re asked to recall what we’ve learned – the sleepers win every time.
Think of it like this: You dive into one session and learn new material––be they new scenarios, segments of songs, scales, chords, or anything else. You nap and let sleep work its memory consolidation and percolation. You wake up and do a full-blast myelination session using the now-familiar material you learned earlier that day, without having to go through the same learning process.
Another approach to consider: If you’re Neurohacking, do your first myelination session with Obstacles in your path––things that make it harder to play. Then, take a nap. When you wake up, do another myelination session with Optimized playing conditions. In this way, napping serves as an Neurohacking Optimizer. And you might be shocked how far you can go.
One way or another, you can get two equally-productive myelination sessions in one day if there’s a nap in between. This is huge. You can effectively make twice the amount of (already considerable) progress you normally would.
If you hack your days with naps, in a sense, during a 30-day skill installation program you can get 60 days worth of deep practice.
But here’s the key: If you’re going to nap, you gotta go all-out.
Do the same or similar routine you would as if you were tucking in for a full rest. Hop in some PJ’s, shut off the lights, pull the blackout shades, turn on the white noise, etc. Do whatever you would normally do at bedtime. Even if you don’t sleep, or the sleep is shallow, you’ll derive most of the benefits of percolation.
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #6 – Suspension
This SESH might be the hardest for you to implement, but it pays off handsomely.
We know that learning improves as we sleep. But this has an effect on our practice more than is immediately obvious.
Studies by Matthew Walker, Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science have revealed a powerful finding:
As long as your deep practice is consistent, sleep provides the equivalent of twice as much practice. This is especially the case if you have no practice during your waking hours.
That means, at some point during your 30-day skill installation journey, you gotta stop practicing. Ideally for 2-3 days.
I find the best time for this is immediately after the first week – the onboarding week where I’m learning all of the scenarios I’ll be working with for the remaining 30 days.
It gives my brain time to consolidate everything it’s learned. I find when I jump back on the guitar after a couple of days, with a quick review; the material is familiar and comfortable to me, so I can focus on myelinating instead of learning or memorizing.
This approach makes sense, since one of sleep’s primary roles is to aid in percolation; which solidifies what is learned.
But it can be useful at any point during the 30 days.
The second-best time I’ve found is when I’ve hit a Wall of Frustration. A Wall of Frustration isn’t the same thing as a Limit Wall. Meaning, I can still make progress, but the progress is meager, and the whole process is just frustrating.
This happens sometimes. Due to circumstances mostly outside of our control, we may just be having an off day. It’s those days when you sit down and no matter what you do, no matter how Optimal the conditions, you just kind of suck. Everything you play is rife with mistakes. Even if you slow down, you find yourself stumbling over notes. And it’s agonizingly annoying.
Sometimes you can meditate and that’ll help rest your head so you can find some calm and make progress again. Sometimes you can take a nap, and it serves as a mental reset.
But sometimes; no matter what we do, our playing is just clunky and it’s frustrating. No sweat. It happens. This is perfectly fine. On days like that (which for me tend to crop up about twice per 30-day installation cycle), I just don’t practice. I take a break.
This is the moment where it may make sense to do a Suspension. Take a couple days off, and let sleep work its magic and prepare you to tackle the task with fresh eyes in a few days.
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #7 – Schedule Stages
With this hack, you deliberately tweak and adjust sleep based on current circumstances and demands.
Knowing what your brain is up to during each stage of sleep means you can aim for certain stages based on your needs. In other words; you can alter your sleep schedule for particular circumstances.
For example, the longest stretch of Stage 2 sleep is just before waking. If you cut that short, you’ll miss out on important memory consolidation motor skills, like a tricky finger pattern or picking movement. “The implication is that if you are preparing for a performance––it’s better to stay up late than get up early.”
You get the largest dose of REM sleep in the early morning. If you’re attempting to solve a problem and need your sleeping brain to percolate for you, you can snooze. Keep falling back into REM.
I did this the other day when I was trying to untangle a particularly tight emotional knot. It didn’t have to do directly with skill installation, but my emotional lack of bandwidth was zapping me of the focus I needed for skill installation. Sure enough, after snoozing 3-4 times and diving back into REM sleep over and over, the emotional knot loosened and I could focus on skills again.
All in all, getting a full night’s rest with all five stages is almost always going to be best. But if you’re unable to nap and are going to burn the candle, it’s nice to know which end to burn. Sometimes circumstances outside of your control limit your window for sleep. You can consult this sleep chart to make the most out of whatever sleep you can squeeze in:
Skill-Enhancing Sleep Hack #8 – Kill the Noise
Now… One of the most powerful ways of taking advantage of sleep’s amplification of the percolation process is purely preventative.
Yes, before sleep, you can feed your brain what you want it to work on. You can emotionally-charge your skill installation endeavors all day long.
But here’s the not-so-great news: As tribal creatures, social and relational circumstances trump all. They have a bigger impact on our psyche than almost everything else.
For the sake of survival, our brains seem to simmer intensely over social matters – especially if they are emotionally-charged.
As with Breaking Bad cliffhangers (Why didn’t Walt save Jane? Why didn’t Walt kill Jesse?), when it comes to relationships; your brain will buzz with questions, what ifs, could bes, if onlys, and everything in between.
Our brains always have to know where we stand in the social hierarchy. It pays attention to inferences and threats. It pays attention to opportunities. It pays attention to what it stands for or against based on the stances of others.
The obvious implication here is to do your best to make sure your relationships are well-maintained and healthy.
Toxic relationships will mess with your skill installation endeavors and powers of percolation more than anything else. Sometimes cutting relationships from your life is the best thing to do. But most of the time, you can create relationships that are conducive to healthy percolation. Heal wounds that need healing. Have the tough conversations you may be putting off. Clean up any messes or loose ends you have with others.
Earlier, I mentioned a friend of mine who’s been contemplating suicide. Understandably, the fear of them following through with this impulsed strongly disrupted my skill-installation endeavors.
I kept mulling the matter over during REM sleep, waking up in a panicked state. After several nights, the emotional charge had finally diffused and I was able to have a sober and important conversation with my friend.
It wasn’t about trying to convince them to not jump off the ledge. It was just a compassionate conversation attempting to understand their perspective and respect their wishes. And I told them how I’d feel if they killed themselves, without all of the panic and desperation. They appreciated my honesty and empathy. And I’m delighted to report my friend is still alive to this day, happier and healthier than before.
I realize tending to relationships that need tending to is way easier said than done. But it’s damn important.
So important that this even applies to the trivial side of the social equation:
Social media and social sitcoms are a percolation vampire. Both mediums affect different brains in different ways, of course. But in general, because of the hyper-stimulating, instantly-accessible and infinite nature of the news feed… social media is the biggest offender.
At least TV shows eventually end (unless you’re The Simpsons 😆).
We covered this phenomenon earlier, but it’s worth revisiting…
Facebook and Twitter feeds bomb our brains with social input, even if most of it is meaningless. Our brain’s don’t discriminate. It’ll latch onto a post––or perhaps dozens of posts within a single feed-flipping session––and percolate about what it sees whether we like it or not. Especially if the post contains conflict or drama.
This is valuable percolation bandwidth being used up by nonsense. Stuff that has no bearing on our survival, let alone our skill-development.
There is value to social media, of course. It helps connect the world. It gives you a platform to share your art. It helps you stay in touch with the people you care about. And to some extent, it can help you stay informed.
But along with the benefits, social media is a platform for people to ejaculate and validate their self-proclaimed identity. They air their dirty laundry, vent their victimhood, espouse their agendas, share humblebrags, fish for attention, and post pictures and videos that make them look a certain way.
This is all normal and perfectly acceptable and expected behavior, of course. As humans, we try to matter in some way. And documenting experiences publicly or by being propped up or provoked by the attention––positive or negative––is one way of feeling like we matter.
There’s a theme to all of this: it’s social stimuli.
The problem is, our brains feed on this stuff like it’s life or death. As such, even the good posts on social media aren’t all that relevant to our lives. Nearly none of it is worth clogging our brains with.
And unfortunately, it’s exceptionally common for people to use social media right before they go to bed – which destroys productive percolation.
If you’re going to bomb your brain with social noise, try to do it hours before bedtime, and always feed your brain skill-centered input before sleep.
The larger point is: Kill the noise. Social media isn’t the only noise out there that negatively impacts percolation.
All sorts of media––including television shows and the news––act as noise, too. Again, as tribal creatures, we ache to be informed about social matters. But perhaps more often than not, we don’t need to be.
If you unplugged your TV and never used social media again, you wouldn’t miss out what actually matters. If an event is truly relevant to your life, it’ll find its way to your brain.
Kill the noise and percolate your priorities instead. Here’s a Mindshift for you:
Social conflict stifles skill-enhancing percolation. Heal real and personally relevant conflict and kill the noise.
Now… all of these SESHs assume you are able to get sound sleep. But if you have trouble sleeping in the first place, I’ve got your back.
Here’s the nightly routine I use (carved out from the Bioupgrading module) to fall asleep fast, get high-quality sleep, and wake up with a brain that’s ready to rock:
And if you want a shortcut to getting to consistently getting the best sleep possible, and shorten the amount of sleep that you need (which gives you more waking time to focus on installing skills)… Check out Qualia Night.
Yes, I’m an investor in Neurohacker Collective. But it’s also the most useful sleep aid I’ve ever used, and it’s one of the only things I can recommend completely without reservation.
I track my sleep using an OURA ring, and I’ve never had such consistently sound sleep, night after night (even my elaborate nightly routine in the video above––and the many things I’ve added to it since filming that video––don’t compare to the effectiveness of Qualia Night).
Use the coupon code “ACCELERATION” to save 15%. (This is good for one-time purchases or subscriptions, where you can save even more).
Until next time, here’s to sound sleep (and the skills that you’ll gain from it).