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Boredom Busters comes to San Jose and Emeryville, CA

April 24 & 25, 2014
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What We Do

The Firefly Group helps people use everyday situations for learning and connecting to the Big Picture. After working with Firefly, you will be energized with specific action steps to achieve your goals.

We do this through training of trainers, leadership development, performance improvement training, strategic planning, writing training manuals, and clarification of organizational mission and vision. Our methods are engaging, thought-filled, and results-oriented.

If this sounds like a good direction for your organization, let's talk about how we might collaborate! Please give me a call (802.257.7247) or send an . - Brian

Your ETR (Estimated Time to Read): 10 minutes
Your ETII (Estimated Time to Implement Ideas):
5 weeks

Read my book
Say It Quick!

March 2014

Say It Quick
a thoughtful message in exactly 99 words

bits of serendipity to inspire and motivate
fuel for your own continuous learning
tips and tricks you can try today
Being Present Dreamland

Sleep's Conundrum

Just Sleep on It


Say It Quick

Believe it or not, there are similarities between paying attention and falling asleep. Learn more beginning with this 99-Word Story.

Being Present
Ken, a swimming buddy of mine, was a practicing Buddhist. He spent time in regular meditation and had traveled several times to Japan to deepen his awareness of "being in the moment." No doubt swimming was an extension of that contemplative practice.

One day he sauntered into the pool carrying his goggles and a strip of black cloth in one hand. When I finished my lap, I quietly asked, "Ken, is that your suit?" Embarrassed, he made a naked dash to the men's room!

Even an expert can benefit from a gentle reminder to be less preoccupied.



Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
By David K. Randall

Like every human since the dawn of time, you have spent about a third of your life asleep. Yet for all the time we spend sleeping, most of us, including doctors, psychologists, biologists, and sports trainers, are only beginning to learn why we sleep, how much sleep we need, and how to get a good night's rest.

David Randall's book, Dreamland, explores the world of sleep by summarizing current research and providing examples of how our growing knowledge of the need to sleep is being applied in learning, sports, creativity, the military, and parenting. Though Randall initially approaches the subject of sleep through his own sleepwalking habit, and though the book addresses problems such as sleep apnea and insomnia, most of the book is focused on sleep as a biological and psychological need.

By studying historical data as well as circadian rhythms (our 24 hour cycle of energy and alertness), scientists have discovered that it is natural to waken in the middle of the night just as it is typical to feel drowsy in the early afternoon. Randall points out that a combination of industrialization, the electric light bulb, and the Puritan work ethic have eroded our ability to be rested, alert, and able to perform well.

Industrialization, and its modern iteration, globalization, have normalized an expectation of 24/7 productivity. Factories run day and night and businesses respond to markets that are always open in a distant time zone. The advent of the electric light bulb meant there was no reason not to be working or playing at any hour. It has extended our time of wakefulness and confused our internal clocks. And the Puritan work ethic makes it difficult for us to make up for lost sleep, go on a vacation, or take a nap because not being busy is seen as being lazy.

Randall provides examples of the practical application of sleep science. Subjects have shown they can learn faster and remember more when they follow a lesson with a nap of 20 to 30 minutes. Athletes perform better when they take a nap before a game and when competing does not conflict with their circadian rhythm energy dip in the early afternoon. Travelers can overcome jet lag more quickly by adjusting their exposure to bright morning light. And anyone can fall asleep more quickly by limiting their time in front of the light from TVs and computers in the evening hours.

Dreamland does not disappoint on other tidbits of sleep trivia. For example, sharing a bed will just about ensure a poorer night of sleep than sleeping alone. It's just too easy to be disturbed by your partner. Children who take a mid-day nap have improved curiosity, are more sociable, and have a positive influence on the temperament of their whole family. Dreams are like personal biological therapy enabling us to incorporate new and stressful experiences with what we already know. Most missteps on the battlefield, including friendly fire, are caused by a lack of sleep.

Rather than continue a listing of ideas contained in Dreamland, I recommend you read it yourself. It's well written so it won't put you to sleep, though it may give you some ideas for a better night's rest.

Dreamland by David K. Randall, W.W. Norton Company, New York, © 2012, ISBN: 978-0-393-08020-9



Sleep's Conundrum
Sleep is such a curious state. It's an activity that engages us several times a day: we fight it, we crave it, and we are overcome by it. Yet, when we fall into it, we cannot describe sleep.

It's difficult to even pinpoint the moment we fall asleep. Only a measurement of brainwaves can determine that. In fact, the more desperately you try to fall asleep, the more elusive sleep will likely be. In his book, Randall describes a study about the relationship between physical activity and a person's ability to sleep well. Researchers found that the amount of exercise was not as important as whether the subjects thought of themselves as being fit. Those who felt good about their physical activity, whether they exercised a lot or a little, rested better at night. Having one less thing to distract them, their sleep experiences improved.

A good night of sleep is subjective. If you are awakened by a dream and have trouble falling to sleep again, you may feel unrested in the morning. Your recollection may be that you stared at the dark ceiling for hours when in fact it was only a few minutes. Feeling well rested by morning is often more about perception than cycling several times through the sleep phases. Sleep seems to be something you can do only when you forget about trying.

Yet in most of life, forgetting what you are doing causes problems. Ken's swimming suit incident in the 99-Word Story is a lesson in mental focus. It shows the result of being totally attentive on exactly the wrong thing. Ken might just as well have been sleepwalking. And we might ask ourselves whether we are sleepwalking through our day, responding casually to serious questions, ignoring significant details, missing opportunities to contribute.

Will getting more sleep enable us to stay more focused? Surely it will help, though it takes more than a good night's rest to maintain concentrated attention. It's tricky: Sleep provides a respite from our preoccupations, yet we cannot sleep if we are preoccupied. Similarly, in a highly productive state of flow we are focused without distraction. Yet we cannot "fall into" a state of flow if we are preoccupied.

Perhaps knowing more about sleep, and getting more of it, can help us understand the conundrum of becoming more attentive by forgetting that we are trying to be focused.



Just Sleep on It
On line you can find smart phone apps that record your sleep and allow you to gauge when you are sleeping at your best. With that information, you can gain insight about a better night's rest. These programs can also help you wake more rested. By determining sleep patterns in real time, they can nudge you awake during a light-sleep phase close to the time set on your alarm.

However, it's a particularly ironic challenge to invent an activity related to sleep - a part of our lives characterized by inactivity.

So, if you've gained any new insights from my thoughts about sleep, please share them. But then, file them into long-term memory by taking a short nap. That's what I'm going to do!


If you give this activity a try, please !



If you like what you have read in this issue, I would like to bring the same innovation, creativity, and playfulness to your next meeting or learning event.

Whether you need a keynote speaker, or help with strategic planning, performance improvement, or training facilitators and trainers in your organization, I look forward to your call (802.257.7247) or .

-- Brian

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