Why Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Is Crucial to Your Entrepreneurial Success
There are numerous ingredients that go into achieving entrepreneurial success. You need to have the right mindset. You need to invest in yourself. You need to know how to market your product(s), and much more. However, there are also lifestyle factors that play an enormous role in your success, or lack thereof. One of those is sleep. Why is getting a good night’s sleep so crucial to your entrepreneurial success? Let’s take a deeper look at things.
The Challenge with Sleep
“Sleep is for the weak”.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“Sleep is for those who want to fall behind.”
These are just a few of the adages we’ve developed concerning sleep and our need to get ahead. There’s a notion out there that in order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to sacrifice sleep. It’s somehow of secondary importance. It’s easy to see why that idea would take root.
Sleep is downtime. It’s literally the least productive time of your day, at least when measured by conventional standards. Sleep is wasted time that you could be using to get a leg up on the competition, or to attract a few more customers. If your competitors are not worried about losing sleep, they’ll use the time against you to take the lead in your head-to-head competition.
The problem here is that sleep is not downtime. It is not dead time. It is not unproductive time that could be better spent doing something else.
Sleep is one of the single most important things to human health--and to life itself. What does that mean?
Your Brain and Sleep
As an entrepreneur, you rely on your brain to give you an edge. All of your creative ideas, all of your drive to succeed, all of your determination and dedication – they stem from your brain. If your brain is not as healthy as it could be, you won’t get the performance you need from it.
The Effect on Neurons
Your brain is composed of cells called neurons. They transmit information from one to the other, allowing you to do everything from breathing and controlling your heart rate to driving a car or clinching a business deal.
Like all other cells in the body, your brain’s neurons need rest periodically. They need to heal and renew, to repair damage done. Again, like the rest of your body’s cells, your brain neurons do all this healing and resting when you’re asleep. That’s because the cognitive load placed on the brain is dramatically lower while you’re out.
If you do not get enough rest, then your brain neurons do not get the healing and recuperation they need. This forces them to turn on and off while you’re awake in an effort to heal themselves. That on/off makes you irritable. It clouds your judgement. It shortens your attention span. None of those are things that a successful entrepreneur should be dealing with, and all of them are things that will ultimately short circuit your success.
The Effect on Mood
As mentioned, a lack of sleep can make you irritable. It alters your brain chemistry, making it more difficult to maintain a stable, steady mood. How does moodiness or irritability affect you as an entrepreneur? It can do so in any number of ways. You’ll be short with vendors. You’ll be snappish with suppliers. You’ll be on edge with customers. You’ll have a shorter fuse with employees or service providers. In short, it’s not a good place to be.
The Effect on Effective Brain Age
Let me put this one as clearly and succinctly as I can: a lack of sleep results in premature aging of the brain. You know those foggy, brain-dead moments we associate with older people? Those can and will begin happening to you, even if you’re only in your 20s or 30s. A lack of sleep means that your brain’s cognitive functions decline, leading to brain fog and sluggishness. In fact, not getting enough sleep could age your brain a full decade, meaning that if you’re in your 30s, you have the brain health and function of a 40-year-old. And if you’re in your 40s, your brain is in its 50s.
The Effect on Productivity
As an entrepreneur, you need to get things done. You have little time for anything that affects productivity. That’s part of the idea that sleep should be put off. It is time that you could be using to be productive in your business. Here’s the thing, though. If you don’t get the sleep you need, your entire day is less productive. So, rather than sacrificing a couple of hours per night to sleep, you end up sacrificing your entire day, and the day after that, and the day after that. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you were just to get the right amount of sleep each night.
The Effect on Overall Health
Once, it wasn’t well understood how a lack of sleep impacted the health of the body. We tended to look at things as being separate systems – your heart health and weight weren’t tied to your sleep habits, for instance. Today, we realize we were dead wrong. A lack of sleep has been connected to:
High blood pressure
Type II diabetes
So, if you want to actually be around in a few years to enjoy the fruits of your labors, sleep is pretty essential.
How to Ensure You Get a Great Night’s Sleep
Now that we have established why sleep is so damn important, we need to touch on how to ensure that you get it in the first place. That starts with figuring out how much sleep you really need. Is the often-recommended eight hours where you need to start?
Actually, most of us don’t really need eight hours. You only need between six and seven hours of high-quality sleep in most instances. The challenge is ensuring “quality”. Being in bed for eight hours does you little good if you’re tossing and turning constantly, and most of us are awake for an hour or more each night and don’t even realize it.
Get a Tracker – One tip is to get a health tracker that can monitor your sleep patterns. Both Fitbit and the Apple Watch can do this, but there are other options out there. Monitor your sleep habits and make adjustments based on information relevant to you. I use the Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker - it's cheap, reliable and gets the job done!
Set a Routine – This one is hard for most entrepreneurs, simply because you have so much that needs to be done and it seems like there’s always another fire that needs to be put out. However, if you set a routine, you can get your body into the habit of going to bed at a certain time and getting up at a certain time. That can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and feel better once you’re awake.
Light – Another important tip is to make sure that there’s little or no light in your bedroom. Close your blinds and curtains. Make sure the TV is off. Light stimulates the brain even while your eyes are closed, causing your sleep quality to be affected. If you do happen to be exposed to artificial light before going to bed, just make sure you wear the Swannies Blue Light Blocking Glasses - Wearing these will help regulate your internal clock to control sleep patterns and other body functions; avoiding blue light at night is crucial to protecting your health.
Noise – Some noise can be a sleep deterrent, but some can actually improve the quality of your sleep. Something gentle, like nature sounds or white noise, can make the difference in being awake all night and getting the Z’s you need.
Alcohol – Avoid alcohol if at all possible. While it can make you feel sleepy, it actually has a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. Just a few drinks can make you toss and turn during the night, and can even cause you to wake up and be unable to get back to sleep.
Essential Oils – Sure, it sounds hokey, but some essential oils have a soothing effect on the mind. A little bit of lavender in a bedside diffuser can help you relax that little bit necessary to sleep more deeply. If you'd like a reliable and cheap diffuser I'd highly recommend the Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser. You can get this along with the essential oils for just under $50! Quite a low investment to improve the quality of your sleep if you ask me.
Caffeine – This one should be a no-brainer, but our caffeine-fueled society seems to ignore what is right in front of their face. If you’re not getting enough sleep because you just can’t seem to fall asleep, the problem could be caffeine. Avoid anything with caffeine in it after 2 PM. The chemical can stay in your system for hours after consuming just a single coffee or soda, making it harder to get to sleep and stay there.
Get Up – If you’re one of those people who finds themselves awake at 2 AM and unable to go back to sleep, don’t lie there longer than 20 minutes. After that time, get up and find something boring to do. Read a book, or the newspaper, for instance. Avoid the cell phone, tablet or TV, though, as those stimulate the brain and will keep you awake longer.
In the end, sleep is absolutely crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. Track how long you sleep and take steps to improve the quality of the time that you get. I also recommend that you sign up for my Six Figure Sunday program (click here to sign up) where I’ll show you how easy it can be to earn a six-figure salary while working just one day a week. That leaves plenty of time for healthy sleep!