Let's be honest: you know you should be prioritizing sleep, and research keeps proving it. A recent study at Michigan State University has even quantified the harmful effects of sleep deprivation. When a group of 234 people was asked to perform a sequence-based procedure in the correct order, around 15 percent of those who had stayed up all night the prior evening failed, compared to just 1 percent of those who slept.
It's clear all-nighters don't help you hustle. Basic motors skills as well as intensive cognitive processes--including planning ahead and problem-solving--can suffer due to a lack of sleep. In addition to declining work performance, not getting enough shut-eye can also negatively impact your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The importance of sleep has been well-documented, but when business leaders get busy, it's often the first thing to go. Resist the urge to burn the midnight oil and make sleep the priority you know it should be. Take a cue or two from the nightly routines of these successful people to get the rest you need.
1. Meditate like Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah Winfrey writes on her website that she meditates twice a day, but making it a part of her evening ritual is what contributes to her sound sleep. Recognizing the importance of the practice of meditation--she's even launched an app to help spread the word. Try to start with just 10 minutes before bed, and you'll quickly gain an appreciation for the power of meditation.
2. Add a bath and soothing sleepwear to your routine like Arianna Huffington.
Huffington doesn't settle for your average bath. Instead, according to The Cut, she adds Epsom salts and lavender oil to help wash away the grime--and grind--of each day. She also dresses the part in the simple nightgowns she's come to prefer. An old T-shirt you might wear to the gym doesn't count as acceptable nightclothes in her book.
3. Schedule sleep during your least productive hours like writer Neil Gaiman.
Award-winning writer Neil Gaiman told TimeOut that he makes sure to work during his most productive hours. Early in his career, that meant working between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., which is what he did when writing the graphic novel The Sandman. His habits have shifted over time--kids, aging, and health changes can alter the time of day you're most productive. Know when you get the most done so you can maximize productivity in the hours you have, and update your routine as life happens.
4. Read a book like Bill Gates.
Bill Gates told The Seattle Times he spends an hour reading before bed, but if you don't have an hour, squeeze in whatever time you can spare. A University of Sussex study found that as little as six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress. Resist the temptation to reach for your tablet or e-reader, though. Their light-emitting screens make it harder to fall asleep and impact sleep quality, according to Harvard Medical School, so opt for the paper version instead.
5. Plan ahead like Barack Obama.
In a Vanity Fair profile, journalist Michael Lewis relates how President Barack Obama used his evening hours in the White House to begin preparing for the next day's work. Planning not only allows you to get a jump on tomorrow's to-do list, but it also helps ease your mind before going to bed. Keep a pad and paper next to your bed, and write down anything important that comes to mind so you won't worry about forgetting it.
6. Eschew devices like Sheryl Sandberg.
As COO of Facebook, it makes sense that Sheryl Sandberg doesn't like going without her phone. She turns it off each night before she goes to bed to ensure she can get uninterrupted sleep. She admitted to USA Today that it's "painful," but that's the price you pay for optimizing your performance the next day. Turning off or silencing your phone is an easy way to improve sleep hygiene.
7. Go to bed early like Tim Cook.
Lots of people say "early to bed and early to rise," but, according to Interesting Engineering, Apple CEO Tim Cook actually lives it. Cook is asleep by 9:30 p.m. and up at 4:30 a.m., allowing him to put in half a day's work before most people have even made it to the office. Try going to bed earlier, and you'll find it easier to wake up before the rest of the population, giving you uninterrupted time to get things done.
While you think you're getting ahead by working when you should be sleeping, you're actually crippling your productivity for the next few days. Focus on getting the amount of sleep you really need, and myriad benefits await you.