Sleep is a very important part of staying healthy and maintaining peak mental and physical health for business, as well as personal activities. It is not only crucial for your well being, sleep plays a major part in how you function and perform. In fact, Brendon Burchard stresses the importance of 8 hours of sleep and the necessity of sleep to be a high performer. (Notes to follow from that event in the next few weeks).
The problem is that as a business owner and entrepreneur, there is so much to do each day that sleep is one of the first things I will cut out of my schedule. While I love sleeping and feeling rested after a full 8 hours, it seems like such a passive activity where I am unable to accomplish my goals. In addition to the fact that I always have so much I want to do, I am also both a night owl and a morning person. My optimal work period starts at 10pm, yet I am now going to the gym and exercising by 6:30am. This often leaves me with only 4-5 hours of sleep a night.
While there are many benefits to getting enough sleep, the side effects of not getting enough can be even more alarming.
Side Effects of Not Enough Sleep
- Increased risk of suffering from a stroke or heart attack
- Lack of focus
- Loss of the ability to concentrate
- Decrease in cognitive abilities (loss of the ability to think and be ‘smart’ – lack of sleeps dumbs you down)
- Plays havoc on your emotions – you become more easily stressed, angry, sad, depressed, agitated, etc
- Weight gain – lack of sleep makes you feel hungrier and it is harder to control your actions (your will power is weakened)
- Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep
Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.
Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.
“Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it,” Gehrman says. “But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”
The Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep
- Increased energy throughout the day and higher energy levels
- Higher performance
- Reduced levels of stress
- Reduced inflammation in your body
- Increased creativity
There are several tips for getting more sleep and I am still working on these myself, but my favorite option is to take naps more frequently. Taking a nap for too long can be just as draining as not taking a nap when it leaves you groggy and unable to think. My ideal naptime is about 20 minutes; I can fall into a deep sleep and wake up on my own just before my alarm goes off. This maximizes my time and the depth of my sleep in a short window.
Here are some tips on different ways to nap:
- Nap Time: Prime naptime is from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., when your energy level dips due to a rise in the hormone melatonin at that time of day.
- Darkness: Use a facemask or eye pillow to provide daytime darkness, or close thee blinds and curtains to make your nap more effective.
- Not Too Late: Napping within three hours of bedtime may interfere with nighttime sleep.
- Quiet Place: Assure that you will not be disturbed for the duration of your nap.
- 30-Minute Maximum: When taking a nap longer than 30 minutes, you run the risk of heading into deep sleep, which will leave you feeling tired and groggy. Naps as short as 1 to 2 minutes could be effective for some people.
- Set an Alarm: You will eventually train yourself to nap for the amount of time you set aside. Until then, set an alarm or ask someone to wake you up.
- The Caffeine Nap: Some people claim that drinking coffee and then taking an immediate nap works well. The caffeine kicks in somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, waking them up. They feel extra energy from both the nap and the coffee. Researchers in Japan found that subjects using a caffeine nap rated highest in decreased sleepiness and increased productivity when compared to subjects taking a nap and washing their face, or taking a nap and being exposed to bright lights.
Getting enough sleep is a constant battle for many of us, but we place a higher priority on sleep than we currently do. The best way to phrase it is: getting enough sleep will allow you to get more done in less time, by being effective and efficient. Not getting enough sleep drags down productivity and draws out the time period that it takes to complete tasks and projects.