Banking the hours

What if you could save up all those hours that you knew in advance would be wasted, and spend them when they mattered most?

For instance, after work there’s an hour or two where I don’t do much of anything. In the morning on weekends I usually just surf the web.

It would be so much better if I were able to save these up and redeem them when I’m going to a concert or bar with friends. Or maybe when I’m spending a magical evening on a date, or when I’m enjoying a beautiful sunset. Or even when I’m simply in a contemplative or satisfied mood.

Given the choice, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

Incidentally, this is what happens with Daylight Savings Time. As you know, in the spring you lose an hour due to daylight savings, and in the fall, you gain an hour. Spring forward, fall back. This is the equivalent of putting an hour in the bank. In the spring you’re banking an hour that you redeem later in the year.

What if I said you could do this all the time? Take hours you didn’t care about, ‘bank’ them, and then redeem them later. Lets go further and say that hours when you’re doing *something,* you’re unable to bank. For instance, if you’re driving somewhere, that’s not bankable.

What’s the point of this hypothetical scenario. After all, it’s surely science fiction, right? No, there’s a way to do it in reality.


Sleep operates just like a bank account. You can choose to go into sleep debt, and you can choose to run a slight sleep surplus. Having a sleep surplus accumulates interest in the form of being more wakeful, and you can redeem it in the near-term when it means the most to you.

Normally, when I’m not mindful, I will accumulate a sleep debt during the week and then pay that debt on the weekend. This is totally foolish and backwards. The hours after work when I could be sleeping are the least rewarding personal hours of my life. Meanwhile, the weekend represents a solid block of time during which I could do anything I wanted. In other words, the most rewarding hours of my day. I could go further. Rather than driving somewhere, I could take the train or a bus, and get some (admittedly low-quality) sleep. For long distance travel, this is usually cheaper, anyway.

Think about it. You can jump into the science fiction future simply by manipulating your sleeping hours.

Leave a comment


  1. I always thought like this, but didn’t realise the idea was blog worthy… Even if it is somewhat more expensive, I take the train (preferably sleeper coaches, normal if not) so I can get some shut-eye. Sleep is *the* most underrated commodity in this day and age. Good series of posts on sleep. Keep milking it FWIW.

    I was tempted to leave this link to C40…. 😉 Maybe I will.

    • m741

       /  December 5, 2011

      Well, it might not be blog-worthy ;). I prefer to think of it as simply extolling the virtues of sleep rather than milking the topic!

      • No, it appears to be blog worthy as I read it. Hence the surprise.

        Extolling the virtues of sleep sounds way better than the way I put it. 🙂

  2. McTrex

     /  December 6, 2011

    Hi guys…got here from Jacob’s blog.

    I went to a sleep doctor (don’t remember the term) years ago and he actually told me that you cannot run a sleep surplus, you cannot “sleep in advance”.

    Have you guys read otherwise?


    • m741

       /  December 6, 2011

      I’m not a doctor, but I’ve found that I can accumulate a few hours of ‘surplus’ in advance. It’s asymmetric in the sense that I can only run up 2-3 hours of ‘surplus’ but can run a huge deficit that I have to recover from.

      More important is not running a deficit and then wasting a weekend recuperating.

  3. I am almost criminal for running on a sleep surplus, never even thought it was a problem.

    Some things just seem invisible until pointed out to you…


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