The Importance of Going to Bed Tired


I want to feel used up by the end of the day. I don’t like ending a day with the feeling that I could have done more. I believe there are few things more enjoyable than going to bed tired. Not tired because you were too frustrated to do any more. Tired because there wasn’t anything unused capacity.

Maybe I’m a psychological oddity on this, because for most the people I talk to, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Most people claim to be happier when they are relaxing. When they are sleeping in each morning and only using a fraction of their available energy. I’m inferring this because most people lust over vacation time and few people like going to work on Monday.

Finding Challenges You Care About

I don’t feel I’m that different from most people. I believe the real difference is that people hate work that doesn’t have meaning for them. Going to bed tired is only fulfilling if you’ve also accomplished something important to you.

That’s why I believe strongly in finding challenges I care about. Something to use up any excess capacity I have at the end of my day. If I don’t care about the challenge, then that energy is wasted and I’ll feel worse than if I had done nothing at all. But if I’ve invested it into something meaningful, I’m happy to go to bed tired.

Taking on Challenges Bigger Than Yourself

I also strive to take on challenges bigger than myself. Challenges that brush against the upper limits of what I have energy and time to accomplish. Sometimes taking on these big challenges will burn me out. But most of the time it leaves me with slightly more capacity than before.

A lot of people don’t get fulfillment from their jobs. They also don’t have the opportunities or resources to immediately do something else. As a result, you can’t go to bed tired, just drained at all the energy that was wasted working for someone else’s goals.

However, just because you don’t have complete control over your time, doesn’t mean you can’t add little challenges. Little moments of fulfillment that can use up some of your energy. While it may seem impossible from the beginning, I’ve found that as you get used to more projects, your capacity increases.

The other benefit is often these challenges can take a life of their own. Little challenges, originally designed to help you go to bed tired, can replace your original work. Small projects become businesses. Minor interests become highly-paid skills. Hobbies become investments.

Escaping the Mundane

Everyone needs to escape sometime. To have some mental space away from the mundane routines of everyday life. Something to be excited about and to give a good reason to wake up the next morning.

Some people escape by playing video games and watching television. That’s certainly one option. However, when the credits role and the show ends, you’re still in the same place. The same mundane routines you started with. You can’t go to bed tired because your accomplishments were illusions.

My mode of escape has always been to find meaningful personal challenges. When I think about it, starting a 30 Day Trial or building a business is a lot like playing a video game. There are rules, goals and strategies. The playing surface may be different, but the graphics are spectacular.

Some of these personal challenges evolve into bigger things. What was originally a mental escape from a mundane routine becomes a new way of living. The game becomes reality. Other challenges stay dormant and remain side-activities from the main roles in your life.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the challenges evolve. The important thing is that they help you go to bed tired. They give you something meaningful to push against, so your extra capacity isn’t stolen by the distractions around you. Best of all, they give you a reason to wake up each morning.

  • Jen

    Hi Scott,

    I’ve been reading your blog since more then three months now, including your entire archive, and I figured I should finally leave a comment.

    I’m trying to find/ found already some projects/goals which make it worth getting up earlier, studying & working full time, etc. I always though I was strange believing that life is more than playing zombie for the PTB. But I also despise most (all?) self-help books concerning self-dev., so it was actually your blog, which a) made me feel comfortable again, b) gave me some great ideas, and c) some other resources for inspiration.


  • Dave

    Hi Scott,

    This is certainly true for me.

    I’ve taken to trading in the wasted time at the end of the day (wasted becausee I’d watch TV and eat junk food), for the very productive hours first thing in the morning. Because I woke feeling tired, more often than not I’d sleep in for an hour or more, which just compounded the problems.

    Before I started going to bed earlier (around 9pm), and then getting up earlier (around 4 or 4.30am), I used to find it took me anything up to an hour to fall asleep. Now it takes me minutes!

    When I wake up I feel properly rested and ready to start the day.

    If I sound smug, it’s because I am! I feel proud of my little victory over my old lifestyle.

    The key point of course is that my days are filled (mostly) with enjoyable and worthwhile activities.

    Great post! I really enjoyed this one.


  • Sara

    I like this way of looking at things. I have to admit, it’s not way I normal think. I definitely agree with the idea that TV (etc), as enjoyable as it can be, isn’t something I get up for in the morning. I think that’s the key thing I’m taking from this.

  • Ryan Cooper

    I agree! I’ve been practicing Hot Yoga (Bikram) for over a year. There is nothing better than an evening of sleep after a day of yoga. It’s impossible to have anything left. It changes your life.

    lessons in brevity:

  • Gary

    Thanks Scott, I am really enjoying your blog.

    It seems like most of the world isn’t ‘living consciously’ as Steve Pavlina puts it, and as such what you had to say here is quite out of the ordinary. Now that I am reading your blog, Steve’s site, and listening to Tony Robbins, a whole new perspective is opening up to life that I had previously overlooked. I have been thinking a lot about your ideas on independence, it seems I am living in a very dependent manner right now, so it’s quite the challenge.