1. Tell us about your success journey. How did you come to realization to appreciating sleep?
After 25 years in the animation industry as an award-winning writer, producer, director, and executive producer, I hit the WALL. My energy, focus, and drive, which had always been abundant, just seemed to evaporate. I needed to figure out what was happening to me and fast. I was leading a team at Disney at the time, and we were mid-stream on many projects, while undergoing a corporate reorganization that disrupted our reporting structure and pretty much blew up our strategy. The Stress levels were through the roof! I intuitively knew that the problem was in my biology, and I set out to identify the most doable, practical protocols to immediately turn things around and recover my lost energy and focus. As I dug into the research, I read many reports on the biological impact of sleep deprivation, and its affect on stress hormones, inflammation, brain fog, depression, and anxiety. Animation production, for all its laughs, can be a grueling profession, and I survived on less than four hours of sleep per night for many years. The affects finally caught up with me, and this forced me to rethink my entire approach to my work life, home life, health and longevity, which started with establishing healthy sleep habits, and ultimately led me to the discovery of the 6 SENSES.
2. Tell us about the 6 SENSES
6 SENSES is an acronym for the six key areas of our lives where we are vulnerable to what I call “The Stress Culture”, a billion-dollar industry designed to keep us in a constant state of reaction and stress. The 6 SENSES are: Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition, Social Media, Environment, and Storytelling. In each one of these six zones, the Stress Culture is feeding off of our overwhelm and locking us into cycles of addiction, distraction, and poor mental and physical health. by becoming aware of these zones and enacting a few simple protocols, we create space within ourselves to reconnect to our own intuitive wisdom, or “6th Sense”, and reclaim a healthy relationship with modern culture. By following the simple 6 SENSES protocols, we remove the noise and static created by the Stress Culture so we can hear the “signal” of our intuitive inner voice, offering us guidance and connecting us to the wonder of being alive in this very moment, and escaping our cultural addiction to constant distractions.
3. What recommendation would you give to someone dealing with sleep deprivation?
Grown ups are just big kids. Like a rambunctious toddler, we need a reliable routine to follow every night that gives our brain and body the signal that it’s time to wind down and prepare for a deep dive into restorative, healing sleep. Low light or candle light, a warm bath, a fiction book, and a cup of chamomile tea with a teaspoon of honey. Start this routine at least an hour before bed, and soon it will become a joy to you as every night you look forward to a conscious wind-down that’s pure “me time”. And stop looking at your phone in bed. Seriously, it’s a problem, both biologically and psychologically. Carve a media-free hour for yourself before bed. It works wonders.
Joe Sichta is an Annie Award-winning and Emmy-nominated Writer, Director, and Executive Producer of animated films and TV series for Warner Bros. Animation, Dreamworks Animation, and The Walt Disney Company. In 2017 he launched Fortress of Focus Media, a next-gen content company producing digital entertainment, products, and publishing, based in Malibu CA. Joe is passionate about Creative Leadership, Arts-Informed Education, Optimal Health and Wellness, and Social Impact Storytelling. He holds a B.A. in Cinematography from Southern Illinois University (1992), and M.B.A. from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business Management (2018), and is a recipient of the Humanitas Prize for Excellence in Children’s Animation Television.