Why Entrepreneurs Need More Sleep and How To Get It

No matter how much we and other health and entrepreneurial websites promote the importance of taking care of yourself, entrepreneurs and CEOs tend to lack in that department. At the beginning of each flight on a commercial airplane, you see a safety demonstration that tells you to put the oxygen mask on your face before helping others. If you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform your duties, you’re not helping anyone, least of all yourself.

The most important tool in your business arsenal? Sleep. The average person in the U.S. sleeps away about one-third of his or her life and while they may sound like a lot, cheating the sleep bank will only cause problems. Science tells us to sleep between seven and nine hours per night, but that doesn’t mean that you can get by with four hours of sleep for days at a time and then have a nap marathon on the weekends. Sleep debt is cumulative. Research has shown, for example, that people who sleep for six hours per night for two weeks will have the physical and mental performance of a person that stayed awake for 48 hours straight. Yes, go ahead and reread that sentence again. 

The troubling part is that in these sleep experiments, the participants didn’t notice the decline. The subject thought that the beginning was rough, but were sure that the effects had leveled off and that they were now functioning normally. Wrong. Their performances plunged daily.

You may think that you feel fine, you’re doing a good job and are effectively running your company, but science shows that you may want to reconsider that and try to imagine what you’d really be capable of if your mind had the rest it demands. What we have is an ongoing cycle. You sleep less to work more, but you work more because you’re not reaching optimal performance. 

There are little tricks to help you get the most out of your sleep. Stick to a regular schedule and feed the body’s need of ritual, develop a special ritual before bed, and employ other relaxation techniques. Get your computer and other screen out of your room or power it down early in the night, as these things inhibit melatonin production. Working late at night also keeps your brain active and you stressed into the night.

To relax, read a good book or hang out with family. Research has indicated that around 50 percent of insomnia is connected to stress. Keep a daily journal, do breathing exercises, meditate, and exercise. If you have the opportunity, research shows that the best sleep cycle actually includes a daytime nap. 

The moral of the story is that when you budget your time, you must allot the right amount for your sleep or suffer mental bankruptcy.

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