Shortcuts to business success #18: Stop sacrificing sleep

by Kelly Exeter | May 25th, 2016 | 3 comments


Sleep. It’s the first thing that gets sacrificed when life gets busy. And there’s no busier life than that of the average business owner. We’re never on top of our workloads and we certainly never see the bottom of our to-do lists. So we start staying up a little later. And getting up a little earlier. We kid ourselves that we can function perfectly well on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. 

And sure, we can. But there is a big difference between functioning and thriving … and thriving is where we need to be. If you’re starting every day feeling tired, your business is going to start looking tired pretty fast too.

So what can we do to:

  1. Get better quality sleep?
  2. Get a greater quantity of sleep than we’re getting currently?

I have these ten tips to offer:

1. Your last job each day should be to schedule out the next day

This means you know exactly what the next day holds and you’re not using vital mental energy either keeping track of the things you’ve just remembered you need to do tomorrow, or spend time wondering what’s in store for you tomorrow. This reduces anxiety which is helpful as anxiety is a big sleep smasher.

2. No coffee after 3pm, no alcohol less than two hours before bedtime

Both these things affect our ability to fall asleep. Stick to these two simple rules and they won’t get in the way of you falling off into the land of nod.

3. While you’re there … watch when you’re eating too

Big meals too close to bedtime are also a bad idea. If your stomach feels full and uncomfortable this will greatly impair your ability to fall asleep. Try to finish eating for the night at least two hours before going to bed.

4. No screens in the last hour before bedtime

This is a hard one to implement but it’s the thing that will likely give the most marked sleep quality improvement. So set up your bedtime routine to involve reading or doing some other non-screen activity like journaling, drawing, making your lunch and/or setting our your clothes for the next day. Use that time for pottering!

5. No screens in the bedroom

Studies have conclusively shown that sleeping with your phone on the bedside table affects sleep. If you have your phone there because you use it as an alarm clock, get a real alarm clock instead! If you need to be near your phone to receive urgent midnight calls, put your phone just outside the door of your bedroom. You will still hear it there.

6. Get the temperature right

If you’re too hot or too cold at night, you’re going to find it difficult to get good quality sleep. An ambient temperature of 22-23 degrees celsius is ideal (although this might need to be adjusted up or down if the air is especially humid or dry).

7. Exercise every day

Studies have shown that a single bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise both reduces the time it takes to fall asleep, and also increases the length of sleep. You should be exercising for your mental and cardiovascular health every day anyway, the fact that it helps you sleep better is a nice bonus.

8. Introduce white noise

If you’re a very light sleeper and get woken by the tiniest of noises, consider sleeping with a fan on or with a white noise generator. 

9. Quiet your mind

If an anxious racing mind is stopping you from falling asleep and you’ve tried all the non-pharmaceutical methods (like meditation, mindfulness and journalling) to stop it, then consider going to the doctor and asking for medication that will help you sleep. Anxiety is fuelled by a lack of sleep. If you don’t break the cycle, the problem will compound. You don’t want to be relying on sleeping tablets or anxiety medication to fall asleep every night – but if a tablet can get you through those particularly rough nights where it’s reached 1am, you’re still not asleep and you’re now in full panic mode, that’s pretty helpful!

10. Have a solid bedtime routine

Where possible, go to bed at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning. Even on weekends. Our bodies like rhythm. If you’re chopping and changing your bedtime all over the place, your body won’t know if it’s coming or going and will struggle to get the rest it needs to truly regenerate.




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