It is easy to think that in order to be successful, we should limit the overall amount of time we spend lying down in bed. After all, that time sleeping could instead be used to work a little bit more, right?
Well, it can, but there is also something to be said for more sleep equalling better productivity.
In the high-paced entrepreneurial world, it’s easy to get caught up in the culture of listening to others bragging about how little they sleep, which in turn may make you feel like you need to do the same.
However, “slow and steady wins the race” is a proverb you should connect with, as those who pace themselves can avoid being burnt out later on.
Sure, there is no denying that some successful people thrive on unusual sleeping patterns, but what works for them may not necessarily work for you.
If you’re utterly exhausted each day but convinced that less sleep means you can do more work, then you’re only fooling yourself. Ultimately it can be counterproductive to sleep fewer hours simply to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak.
How to Start Getting Better Sleep
Along with the knowledge that you are preventing fatigue later down the line, there are many great reasons why more sleep can help boost your body and mind, including becoming less distracted, making better decisions over the day, improved memory, and fewer mistakes.
Furthermore, more sleep will make you far less likely to reach for coffee or energy drinks simply to keep you focused. And don’t even think that you can simply “catch up” on sleep over the weekend after a busy week, as this method won’t work at all!
Human beings need a regular sleeping pattern.
So, if you’re a busy person but have always felt that you never have the time to get a decent amount of quality sleep, then consider the following points:
1. Incorporate it into your schedule
Although it might seem odd to write “go to sleep” into your diary as part of your schedule, marking out a point in a 24-hour day when you can lie down and forget your worries is hugely important.
Of course, many people work on different timetables over the day, so stating that 11 pm should be your bedtime isn’t realistic for everyone.
However, planning out your day so you can make time for at 6-8 hours of sleep is a good habit to start. Is 2 am to 10 am the only viable option?
That’s fine, but as long as that’s a schedule you can stick to, then do it.
2. Have the best sleep that you can possibly get
It might be tempting to leave your phone on when you sleep “in case of business emergencies,” but if people are aware that they can contact you 24/7, then how can you ever truly relax?
Your mind needs to be in a state of rest at some point of the day, so try to make it a rule that when you sleep, your phone does as well.
This goes for checking emails and all manner of work communication before bed too, as this should be unwinding time, and any work news isn’t likely to make you unwind!
In general, your sleeping environment should be as close to perfect as you can get.
A memory foam mattress is often considered a great option to ensure a comfortable sleep, but make sure to read the pros and cons so you can make up your own mind before committing.
As for other sleep accessories, eye masks and white noise machines are also worthwhile to help getting the best sleep possible. This is your time to focus on anything but work, so switch off that part of your brain and simply relax.
3. Tactical naps
This is really a day-by-day scenario, but when there are a spare 20 minutes over the course of your work time, then by all means, take a 10 to 20-minute nap.
Any longer can kick your brain into a deep REM sleep, which may make you feel groggy when you wake up.
Short naps have long been associated with improved cognitive functions, so if you feel your eyes start to droop and concentration slipping, there is every reason to power down for at least 20 minutes.
Some major companies even urge their employees to take a quick nap over the working day, including Google, Zappos, Uber, and Ben & Jerry’s.
Mary Gresham, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta, says:
“More and more, we are recognizing the importance of sleep as a mechanism of consolidating information, dealing with the events of the day, and recharging our energy.”
Stefan Camenzind, CEO of Evolution Design, also adds:
“Most people are told that the harder you work, the longer you work, the better it is. That’s not sustainable, and that’s probably also not true. It’s about smart working, and that means you need to recharge. In this context, nap rooms become more and more important.”
In the end, being successful is something that is built over time.
But although many entrepreneurs will make the point that hard work and dedication are the tools for accomplishment, they are not the only means.
Along with the many great ways to reduce stress, good sleep lets us remain focused on the tasks ahead and allows us to unwind.
“Sleep on it” is yet another proverb that you’ll be familiar, but it certainly holds true, as often that “Eureka” moment first thing in the morning.
Work is important, no doubt, but it isn’t our whole life.
Do you really want to sacrifice your social and family life simply to tell others how hard you’re working?
Think about the long-term. So, if you are feeling beyond tired and believe that you need to work longer in order to keep up with your competitors, think again. Take the time to genuinely rest your body and mind and you will be far better off in the future.