Esther Dyson Interview in Good Magazine: Get More Sleep!


Esther Dyson was kind enough to take a meeting with me as I was starting Workstreamer. She’s an amazing person and her insights were invaluable. Since then I have tried to consume as much of her writing as I can.

GOOD Magazine has a great article covering Dyson and her philosophy on life, including her passion for healthcare and wellness. She specifically mentions the impact of sleep on human performance and mental health:

Esther Dyson notices the present in a way others don’t. Take a building, for example. “One will say it’s red with two stories,” she says. “Another will say it’s made out of wood, two hundred years old, with a pointed roof. And I will say, ‘Here’s the building. This is where the stresses are and here is where the floor is sagging.’”

Much of Dyson’s skill in spotting tensions can be traced back to her early economics studies at Harvard. “I felt it was a good way to understand the world. Economics is a fundamental mover, and it has helped me concentrate on the structure and dynamics and interactions of things.” She says one of the problems in business right now is its short-term thinking, which is spurred by the speed of the stock market. “When you can measure economic activity minute by minute, it makes it difficult, unfortunately, to not sacrifice long-term investment for short-term results.”

If it were up to Dyson, slowness would be invited into business and define gross domestic product differently, especially in relation to education and health care. “Our health-care system right now is all about repair. If you thought long-term, you’d be good to your body, which is good for the economy.”

Maybe the best way to slow down is to sleep a little more, and pay more attention when you’re awake.

Dyson, a cosmonaut in training with a background in journalism and IT start-ups, is good to her body—and to her mind. She spends an hour swimming laps every morning while considering the things she didn’t have time for the day before. “It’s not about delaying thinking. It’s about assigning a time to things when I can give them my full attention.”

Sleep is also part of it, she says. “People aren’t getting enough. They say they were up late watching TV, but TV doesn’t force you to watch it. It’s a choice. Maybe the best way to slow down is to sleep a little more, and pay more attention when you’re awake.”


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