Mental Health
April 28, 2024

Why Einstein’s sleeping schedule is something you need to consider.

This is a story of terror, insomnia, self-awareness, and self-regulation (or the lack of them).

My friend’s baby woke up at 03.00 a.m. and decided her day was starting. I was staying with Paul for the weekend, so I had become a witness of his constant effort to keep everything under control, while his partner was away on a business trip. Allow me to define “everything”: an upcoming presentation for a client important as f***, negotiating with his landlord who had started a crusade in order to raise rent in heights never heard of by humanity before, and- last but not at all least- keeping up with his 3 months-old troublemaker.

Let me paint you a picture of the situation. Our basic soundtrack is the screams of little Annie, with some crying variations in between. Paul is swinging the crib, but this only makes the screams worse. He picks up his car’s keys and the baby’s jacket, ready to take her for a car ride. He hopes — he prays — this will work. Paul is so exhausted, he hasn’t slept in God knows how long- so, when he enters the car, he realises that he is wearing one flip flop and one shoe, and doesn’t remember if he took his home keys with him. Paul was lucky I was there to open the door after he returned home, with Annie- finally- asleep.

But we both know this intermission of silence won’t last for long. Paul collapses on the sofa. He feels that he is doing everything wrong. Even the simplest tasks, such as changing diapers, provoke hatred within- and at the same time, he is so tired of fighting the shame he feels for not making it as perfectly as he intended to. He was being warned that being a new parent is not a walk in the park. But, “no rest for the best”, right?

Not all of us have been in the exact situation Paul finds himself in, but this feeling of overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism, and detachment might sound familiar… These are all perfect ingredients that, if combined with a sense of ineffectiveness, and lack of accomplishment, make the ideal mix leading to a horrific word: “ burnout.” Can we prevent it? Are there any soft skills, that if enhanced, can protect us from burning out?

Einstein reportedly slept for at least 10 hours per day — nearly one and a half times as much as the average American today (6.8 hours). But I bet that, back in Einstein’s days, quotes like “no rest for the best” and “success and rest don’t sleep together” weren’t the norm. We have been living in a context constantly pushing us to go beyond our limits, asking us to deliver more than a healthy working routine can result into, leading us to believe that productivity is an agenda with consecutive meetings and no time for ourselves.

But what has our graceful dance towards the land of burnouts to do with self-awareness and self-regulation?

Time to wear or pair of Morphoses soft-skill glasses and look around again.

The secret of avoiding burnouts lies in how well we experience our strengths and weaknesses, how we manage ourselves, and how we control our behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of our personal goals. In three words: Self-awareness. Self-management. Self-regulation.

Let’s take my friend, Paul, for example. What would be the case if the aforementioned soft skills were in the game? Would that change the story a little bit?

It’s 3 am. Paul is once again awake from the screams of his 3 months-old troublemaker (sorry, my friend, this part of the story never changes). He swings the crib, but this only makes the screams worse. Instead of struggling to keep up with everything, Paul decides to take a step back. He understands and accepts his limits. In other words, he shows signs of self-awareness, self-management, and self-regulation. Time to pick up the phone and call his dad. He has already prepared Paul’s favorite food, packed a pair of clothes, and is ready to come and help with the little troublemaker. While waiting, Paul clears off his morning agenda of everything that is not a priority. He needs focus. And he definitely could use some more sleep.

We can agree that we are not Einstein. We didn’t change our understanding of space and time with our theories. But we all do need rest. And we all need the ability to recognise, accept, declare our limits. We all need to give ourselves permission to realise that we’re only human, after all. Because we can all burn out if we don’t see the warning signs early.

And in Morphoses this is exactly what we do; we expose our young learners to activities where they practice soft skills such as self-awareness, self-management, and self-regulation.


“The visions we offer our children shape the future”.

C. Sagan.