I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “burning the midnight oil.” Entrepreneurs are known to be people of little sleep – whether it’s the creative machinations of your brain going into overdrive, or worrying about a product launch – it isn’t unusual for business owners to try and survive on five hours of sleep (or less) a night.
And contrary to what you might think, “awake” does not necessarily equate to “productive.”
According to an article on WebMD.com, if you’re suffering from a lack of shuteye, you might be robbing your business of the best your brain and body have to offer.
And in our “connected 24/7” world with gadgets and gizmos like smartphones, tablets, social media, and the like, sleep might seem like, well, an elusive dream.
Sleep is your body’s most powerful ally when it comes to restoring, healing, and maintaining your internal systems and major organs, including your brain.
During REM sleep, we dream. And while scientists have yet to figure out how and why we dream, it’s evident that this phase of deep sleep – usually up to two hours a night – helps to relieve stress, solve problems, and bolster creativity better than non-REM sleep.
Bodily health, as well as mental stamina, can all be in part attributed to getting a decent night’s sleep. In fact, not getting enough sleep (seven to eight hours a night, according to the National Institutes of Health) can set you up for a whole host of unwelcome issues that will interfere with your quality of life:
And that’s just a partial list. Clearly, you need to stop encouraging your inner-night owl and try harder to get some zzzzs.
So, what are the best ways to get a good night’s sleep? The Mayo Clinic has some great suggestions, and I’ve thrown in a few of my own that have proven helpful:
Get into a rhythm. Recognize your body’s own natural “circadian rhythm.” This is a biological series of neurological signals sent from the brain to the body at different times of the day to promote waking and sleeping. Just like the sun rises and sets every day, your body takes its cues from Mother Nature when it’s time to get up or time to wind down for a solid night’s rest. When you feel tired, that’s your body telling you it’s time to rejuvenate.
Early to bed, early to rise. This ages-old adage may sound like a no-brainer, but what is early for some people is late for others. Ideally, if you work during the day, try to get to bed sometime between 10:00 p.m. and midnight at the very latest.
Unplug to unwind. Turn off your TV, laptop, tablet, or smart phone at least an hour before bed. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea (chamomile is a great choice) and read a book (not your business financial reports!) that will help you relax. Listen to classical music to soothe your nerves and lull your brain into nodding off.
Be active. Proper exercise will not only help you burn calories and relieve stress; it also helps keep your hormones in balance that encourage a restful night’s sleep.
Avoid heavy meals. While you shouldn’t go to bed hungry, it’s even worse to stuff yourself close to bedtime. Try to eat dinner sometime before 7:00 p.m. if possible, and limit your carb intake. If you are hungry before bed, stick to eating a high protein snack like a few slices of oven roasted turkey or perhaps some cheese.
Watch the caffeine. Coffee is fine in the morning hours, especially Bullet Proof Coffee, but try to avoid the jitters later on by skipping the java and opting for water instead. If you simply must have another cuppa joe after noon, drink decaf.
Supplement your sleep. Sometimes, we need a little help from nature to get our sack time. Personally, I love the deep sleep I get from a product called “Super R.E.M.” It’s an all-natural supplement, not a habit-forming drug, made by a company called ASR Research Labs (owned and operated by a couple buddies of mine). Supplements like Super R.E.M. are a much better choice than Rx pills because they work without potentially dangerous side effects.
By making small changes to your routine and getting proper sleep, you should gain an edge in your health and mental focus – both of which will give you an advantage in your business pursuits.
Ben Franklin had it right: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.