Time is Money, so Sleep is Debt!

In today’s competitive 24/7 and 365 days world, how can you waste your time in sleep? Sleep is an integral part of our day; we work, socialise and sleep. Our energy spent during waking hours is recouped when we have sufficient rest. How much sleep does one need to regain strength? Every individual has own requirement of sleep, and it is defined by the body like our blood group. This property is known as Chronotype and is described as a person’s natural inclination about the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic.

We have different ways of describing people like an early bird, night owl and those who are in between the bird and the owl. Early to bed and early to rise is the way to be healthy and wealthy and wise, is a saying that has been popular for a long time. Does it mean that the early birds are smart people and others are not? I don’t think so because it is a natural property of human beings. I remember my friend’s daughter. For first three to four years of her life, his princess would sleep throughout the day and would be fully awake during the night. Luckily the friend’s wife was not doing a job outside. Hence she could sleep for at least some time during the day time. But day time sleep has its limitations as the world runs on a daytime cycle. They had a tough time during those 3/4 years.

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During the last hundred years or so, we humans have started working during nights. Before that very few people in any trade required night working. I remember my grandfather’s lifestyle. He would be ready to go to bed at 7 pm after having early dinner. I am talking of lifestyle that was prevalent in ’50 s of the last century. There was nothing else to do anyway. But with the industrial revolution, night shifts started in factories. In factories first shift would begin at 7 am, second would end at 11 pm and so on. These timings started invading our way of beginning and ending the day. Before all this, there was not much difference in humans and other creatures. If we observe, even today, the birds start flying out depending on the timings based on Sunrise and Sunset. Species other than humans follow nature. They wake up with the environment; they eat and drink water when hungry or thirsty. (Only humans drink specially manufactured alcohol); in the end, they die naturally. In certain species when the death is near, they go away from others and merge with nature. All this thinking has created words describing “Time is Money”; I have added to it “Sleep is Debt”! We, humans, give too much importance to when we wake up, when we sleep, and so on. People from the same organisations working in different continents adds to the misery.

 

Sleep1But is it true? Is it right? I read about a large organisation in China. They have a vast multi-storied complex where hundreds of people work. A team from the USA went there for some meetings. The meeting started at 10.30 am. It went on till 1 pm. They were taken for lunch, and they came back at 1.30 pm. Within, five minutes, all the lights, computer screens were put off. There was an announcement in Chinese to switch off the cell phones. At 2.15 pm everything came back to normal. The Americans were shocked. Their Chinese counterparts told them that they wanted to give surprise to the Americans. The practice of switching off everything is being followed in that organisation for some time, so that people take a nap. During this period, the Americans found it impossible to go to sleep, initially many of the Chinese staff also faced the same problem, but now they are used to it. The Americans found that some of their Chinese colleagues were even mildly snoring. Majority of the staff has given thumbs up to this method of taking a sleep break. Such breaks have increased the zest of people working in the second session. I can vouch for this method. I have been following this method for quite some time in my office.

In the western world, sleep is treated as some sin. People become judgmental when someone says that he/she needs some sleep. In olden days, though everybody had different sleep cycles, some people were required to keep awake against attacks by animals. Another need was to ensure that the fire needed for warmth did not spread dangerously. In Mahabharata, the war stopped at the Sunset. Lord Krishna had taken advantage of this fact and killed Jayadratha, by hiding the  Sun in the afternoon with his Sudarshana Chakra, and bringing Jayadratha out in front of Arjuna.

I am sure that a word associated with sleep in olden days must have been fear! That is because of the animal attacks. Now in modern times, we don’t have fear associated with the word sleep, but still, we make sure that all the door and window latches are in place. Worry before sleeping is the remnant of the “fear” we had in mind. Maybe the night prowlers may break in, is the fear we still may have! On the other side, it is considered good if someone dies in sleep. The reasoning could be that the person may not feel the pain if any, while dying.

All said and done; a sleep deficit is bound to have its issues. Each human can handle only a certain amount of sleep deficit. After that, the performance gets deteriorated. The person will be anxious; the concentration may reduce and accidents while driving can also take place.

Once we had gone out for dinner with some Japanese friends, we finished our dinner at around 11 pm. I asked the friend how do they handle this in Japan. He said, “Initially we do bar hopping till midnight and then have dinner. By the time we are done, it is 2 am.” I asked him, “How do you manage the office the next day?” My friend said, “ We must reach the office at 7 am, but if I am not up to it, I take my boss’s permission to go and sleep in my car!” Great solution!

But one thing is sure; you cannot be in debt in life, as well as in sleep. You have to repay it; you have to make it up at some stage. A good way of handling this is to learn to take power naps! A ten-minute power nap will go a long way.

In modern times, during the last 15 years, things have changed for the worse. Housing loans are much cheaper than personal loans. We can call our sleep deficit due to work as a housing loan, but we also take personal loans which are costlier than housing loans. These new loans are in the form of social media or screen time. With these two loans running simultaneously, sleep deficit is bound to be there; make sure you avoid it or you may become bankrupt!

Evolution of Human Social Life!

We always talk of scientific evolution, industrial revolutions and progress of sciences. Evolution of human thinking about life and the way it is lived, is probably equally or more important. My thinking is based on practices followed in Hinduism. During initial thinking, a couple of thousand years back, life was divided in three parts; Obligation, Success, Pleasure. I am not talking of Ashramas as discussed in Hinduism. Later, freedom was added to the thinking. In Sanskrit, these are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. I feel that addition of freedom, was necessitated due to social changes, in parallel with changes in science and technology.   

I am trying to understand life style evolutions, going hand in hand, with scientific evolutions. I was wondering why the Moksha was not included initially as a part of human life. I think, that not many people really reached the age of freedom or Moksha.  

Dharma or Obligation was about doing the right things. This involved creating the right thinking in human mind; don’t become selfish, think about others. When we live in a society, the societal norms and etiquettes need to be followed. These have evolved over a period of time. In this phase of life, it is our duty is to learn societal norms. During this phase, humans also get married. Marriage is not only coming together of two people but it is about coming together of two families. This involves readjustment in your lives. This phase has undergone a major change. In olden days, marriages took place between bride and groom, who lived in the same vicinity and whose families were known to each other. The marriages took place at an early age. From time immemorial, there have been hierarchies in our society based on caste, creed and many other parameters. Ones station in life was decided by these parameters. Marriages also took place initially, dictated by hierarchy. King’s family did not marry a commoner. Have these things changed today? It is both yes and no! 

There is a typical Hindi word बिरादरी, which means fraternity. Marriages still take place within fraternity, caste and so on. But there is a big change; people now do marry outside fraternity, different castes, different religions, they can be from far off places, or from different countries. With more education, people tend to get married late. Our thinking is slowly adapting to these changes. This is major social evolution or even an upheaval.  

In adulthood, one gets established in life, simultaneously while establishing in a job or business, but both are equally important. This is the success phase. Over a period, in this phase, now there is a big change. As late as 50 to 70 years back, one finished education, got a job, got married, procreated and retired from the same job. A few years after retirement many simply died! Now post education, someone may start a business right away. On the other side it is no more surprising when people continue with their education till early 30’s. By the age of 30, I had a six-year-old son and had a work experience of 6 to 7 years. This changing trend has its own pluses and minuses. But system does evolve itself.  

Trends in the stable phase of human life are also changing. This is now a phase where people procreate, work, travel and have fun. This goes hand in hand with their professional work. Now we see many cases where both husband and wife work. People tend to be busy 24/7, 365 days doing various things in life. The trend of buying homes and big cars, as soon as possible, is also coming in vogue. Adding to these changes, another important aspect that has changed is, from joint family structure, we are switching over to nuclear family. Money in plenty is available but home support is diminishing. Our society is adjusting to these changes too! Crèches, home staff, drivers become your “family” for support. When people live in foreign countries, their parents go and live for months together for support; but in the end parents do come back home. Nuclear family of old parents is also becoming a norm. This recent trend is mainly because of globalization and IT industry proliferation. 

I feel that pleasure and freedom phases have merged and these phases start a little late in life because the medical revolution has increased longevity. People live much longer than before; life expectancy was 31 in 1947 in India now it is 66. This indicates that larger proportion lives much longer after retirement. By the time of retirement, major family responsibilities are over. Financial commitments are lesser and finance availability is much better. This is the time when pleasure phase is in top gear plus freedom to do things, that were not possible during busy phase. I have an argument which may be, a bit controversial. In olden days, after the productive phase, Moksha or merging of soul with cosmic soul was thought to be final phase in life. During those days, there was hardly anything else to do than to follow the path of Moksha and try to achieve nirvana. Hence the term merging of soul with cosmic soul was used. I have nothing against trying to give up so called pleasures in lieu of bhakti or following the religious practices to achieve moksha. But now moksha is an option, not like olden days when it was the only option.  

Large number people travel, follow their dreams, maybe start a new venture in this phase! This social change is happening rapidly due to advent social evolution in tandem with ease of travel, ease of knowing about far off places. There are online courses available for photography, learning new languages, gardening. There are facilities to learn details about Bhagwad Geeta and there are special religious tours arranged for senior citizens. This reminds me of a joke. A guy tells his friend that he was about to book a religious holiday package for his family with parents. When he went to ask his parents, the father said, ” Sorry son can’t make it! We have booked a holiday for Bangkok and Pattaya!” Social change, anybody?  

Moksha is liberation from cycle of birth & death. This is taught by our religions but religious thinking which is part of social fabric also undergoes changes, along with technological changes! When no other option is available we adopt to existing conditions. But current social changes in pleasure and freedom in life can be considered like migration of young people looking for better options! So, Moksha or evolution, what is your take? I will prefer Moksha in St Moritz or Gangtok anytime! Come join the new Moksha brigade!  

 

Money Matters!

Money, Money, Money is lovely song by Abba from 70’s. Money is an important thing in life but it is not everything.

Historically when life started, there was no trade as there was no ownership concept. With individual ownership concept, starting 10000 years back, barter system started. Which later got converted to money and later into currency system. With industrial revolution, wealth generation started galloping and with that the greed! Before this period, only rich people were  the royalty and their kin! This of course continues, I need not say who the modern royalty is. Latest revolution in computers and related businesses have crossed imagination in wealth generation, beyond everybody’s expectations. But the main thing is the “you and me” gang started doing well, moneywise!

How do people make money? Some are brilliant wealth creators, they develop products, processes and concepts which the whole world appreciates and buys. Some inherit money but people like you and me, make money in a very conventional way. Typical people of our generation got themselves good education, took a job, tried to get office accommodation, later bought own home. With other family responsibilities, small amount of money remained in balance which was promptly invested in Bank Deposits. This was the process of living life, straight as an arrow and most important, safety first!

But is the conventional way of living safe life and being satisfied with it, relevant in today’s times. Probably safe deposits route was perfect for socialistic thinking of 70’s and 80’s of last century, we got used to it and continued. One person in Mumbai was given Shares of Wipro in 70’s worth Rs.10000/. The person was moneyed even in those days. He promptly forgot about the shares. When he died around 2010, his family found these shares which were simply stowed away. Their value had become Rs. 280/ million! Wow, Wow and Wow! In today’s financial jargon it is called long term investment! The money was invested in the so-called Market! In modern economies an individual is now being forced to be in the “Market”. For bank fixed deposit now, interest rates are negligible hence the shift. But there is greed. People got lured from FD in banks to very high returns from time immemorial. When banks could not give good returns, how someone else will be able to give high  returns on money. No one raised such issues, at least initially.

In came Charles Ponzi in 1920 in USA. He started one such scheme and lots of  people got sucked and ruined in his schemes. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned by the operator on previous investments. As explained, excellent marketing techniques helped first group of people to be lured to such schemes. They were given exorbitant returns from the money invested by next batch of people. This cycle continued for some period and then unexpectedly for the investors, but expected by knowledgeable people, these schemes collapsed. With the schemes collapse, the people collapsed. The way Cadbury chocolate has become generic name for chocolate made by any other company, all such fraudulent schemes came to be known as Ponzi schemes.

Latest to join the bandwagon is the currency in news, I won’t call it popular, Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to control its creation and management, rather than relying on central authorities. The presumed pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto integrated many existing ideas from the cypherpunk community when creating bitcoin. Over the course of bitcoin’s history, it has undergone rapid growth to become a significant currency both on and offline – from the mid 2010 onward, some businesses on a global scale began accepting bitcoins in addition to standard currencies.

To give you some feel, in 2010 Bitcoin was trading at 1 bitcoin = US $ 0.003. In November 2017 at its peak it was trading at 1 bitcoin = US $ 17,900/. Today, January 2018 it is trading at 1 bitcoin = US $ 11,171/, this is the  reduction in one month. Ponzi Scheme? I don’t know. Bitcoin is trying to replace global currency in the form electronic currency. But for such type of Electronic currency to succeed, all nations in this world will have to agree. Ten developed nations in the world including US, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Australia have formally accepted Bitcoin as a currency. This may get accepted over a period of time as money. All sovereign countries formally have to be accept Bitcoin. Without this acceptance I visualize a tricky scenario e.g. today you can get one Pizza in US for one bitcoin. How much will you pay for the same Pizza in UK and in Australia? Is this rate going to be based on comparative rates of current currencies? Presently, I find it difficult to understand how this will be achieved. Will I dabble in Bitcoins today? Definitely not. The currency which can get 38% devalued in such a small duration, and has yet to get approval from most of the countries in the world, is a strict no, no for me. I am sure Bitcoin or something similar may become a global currency in future but I feel that is still some time away.

What will today’s generation tell their children about money management? Take your education and learn some special skills of your own! Well, I am sure you know the market conditions, if not study them and create your wealth. Don’t waste your money on homes and cars, when you can always rent whatever you want. But try to stay away from Bitcoins of this world. It is today’s Ponzi scheme!

To you my friends one quick suggestion. Under financial advisor, put some money in market schemes which are Trigger based. Your funds are normally invested in debt funds; but when the equity market is on the Bull run, the money  will get transferred to Equity, make decent money and when Bear run starts money will be shifted back to Debt funds! Any takers from my generation?