In today's "hustle-centric" world, sleep is the first thing to hit the chopping block. Gallup has reported that over the past 50 years, we're sleeping one hour less per night than we did back in the 1950s. Factor a daily reduction of sleep by one hour over the course of a year and it's easy to see why people are fatigued and reliant on their morning espresso.

Due to television, technology, increasing work demands, and stress, sleep has become even more paramount.

Once you factor in the unique and extra circumstances that weren't around in the '50s, the old standard of getting in bed eight hours before you need to wake up needs a refresher. On Sunday, Daniel Gartenberg, a sleep scientist and TED resident, told Quartz:

In order to get a healthy eight hours of sleep, which is the amount that many people need, you need to be in bed for 8.5 hours. The standard in the literature is that healthy sleepers spend more than 90 percent of the time in bed asleep, so if you're in bed for eight hours, a healthy sleeper might actually sleep for only about 7.2 hours.

For the workaholics, this notion might be met with some resistance. It's a common thing I hear from clients, some of whom tell me that they're functioning just fine on six to seven hours of sleep. However, there's a difference between merely existing throughout the day and operating with high levels of productivity.

When asked about why people feel fine with six hours of sleep, Gartenberg likened sleep deprivation to the fish and the fishbowl phenomenon: 

The fish doesn't know that he's in the fishbowl, nonetheless that he's in water. Also, when you're sleep deprived, research has shown that you're really bad at being able to tell that you're sleep deprived.

With a busy lifestyle that includes myriad demands that pull you in numerous directions, you may think that being in bed for 8.5 hours is a fantasy. But it's far from that.

Just implementing these two simple habits can immediately provide a high ROI for your sleep:

1. Create a presleep routine.

No one likes being fatigued, moody, and mentally foggy from nights of poor sleep. Why does our sleep fall short? It's because of a lack of effective organization and scheduling.

Just as you schedule a doctor's appointment, you need to schedule your sleep--specifically, the start of your sleep routine. To accomplish this, implement these four steps:

  • Decide what time you need to wake up.
  • Block out 8.5 hours from that time.
  • Carve out 90 minutes before the 8.5 hours of bedtime begins.
  • Use that 90 minutes to wind down from the day (no work or stimulating activity with electronics).

2. Focus on sound.

Environments play a role in all facets of our lives, and nowhere is this truer than with our sleep. As Gartenberg explained:

Your brain has these micro-arousals throughout the night without you being consciously aware of it--even an air-conditioning unit turning on wakes up your brain. So blocking out noises is a low-hanging fruit to improve your sleep quality.

According to a recent study published in the April 2017 issue of Sleep, white noise improves sleep quality by making it easier to fall asleep and further promoting deep sleep--think of this as restoring your body and mind from a tough workday. If you live in a noisy environment that isn't under your control, look into using noise-making sleep buds or white-noise machines.

Feeling tired and cranky in pursuit of your business goals isn't necessary. With effective planning and some added ounces of discipline, you'll be able to sleep your way to success.

Published on: Jun 13, 2018