As I've gotten older, I've learned just how important sleep's effects are on my performance, and it's led to me prioritizing it more. I've often forgone sleep on several occasions in order to hit deadlines and be as productive as possible.
Unfortunately this is far from rare. Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs have historically been noted as people who fight off counting sheep.
So if you are one of the most well-known celebrity entrepreneurs in the world, like Oprah Winfrey for example, common sense suggests you won't be sleeping much. From running her own television network, to making public appearances, and working on several other projects, she doesn't always have time to get a good night's sleep.
However, given the need for this icon to get enough shuteye, her sleep doctor, Michael Breus, has weighed in during an interview with CNBC, on how busy people (like entrepreneurs) can get enough sleep despite working long hours.
1. Start a bedtime routine or ritual.
Dr. Breus suggests using a stopwatch (or your smartphone) to break your last hour before sleep into separate activities of a pre-bedtime ritual. Reserve enough time for things like using the bathroom, getting things ready for the next morning, and getting quiet. By timing your activities, it forces you to pay attention on what you're doing so you don't end up watching television, running for junk food, or using the blue light of your phone right before you drift off to the land of nod.
I'll be the first to admit that starting a bed time ritual when you have kids is basically impossible. Your focus becomes on your kids bed time routine, and not yours. If you have kids, then my recommendation is to get your kids to sleep at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Hard to do, but once you do it right, you'll see yourself much happier throughout the week.
2. Do math problems.
I can recall a few times where I was so nervous about a project the night before that I tossed and turned all night. Eventually, I just got up and started working. However, Dr. Breus proposes the idea of counting backwards by increments of threes, or (your own favorite multiplication time table) and trying to focus all of your attention on the math. This bores your brain into drifting off into sleep.
3. Set time aside to get silent before bed.
One of the most crucial aspects of my healthy sleep patterns is turning my brain off. Sometimes, my mind is constantly barking about an email I need to send, or something that I need to follow up on as soon as I wake up. If I let it, it can literally make me jump out of bed and rush to my computer.
Instead, I've learned it pays to be proactive about setting time aside to calm your mind down from a day's work. For me, I focus on what I'm grateful for and try to follow that up with listing off as many real life examples for my gratitude as I can before I go to bed. That way, my mind is restful and I can drift into sleep pretty effortlessly.
4. Take a morning walk.
Waking up early has some big benefits, just ask many famous entrepreneurs. However, if you are struggling with your circadian rhythm, seeing sunlight in the morning can halt the production of a sleep hormone called melatonin. This will make you feel more tired earlier in the evening, leading to a better night's sleep.
I personally don't take morning walks, but I do try take as many walks during work as possible throughout the day. I also keep my phone at my desk so I can
5. Make sleep your friend.
"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." If the master of productivity Benjamin Franklin lived by these words, then they are probably good enough for other multifaceted leaders.
Entrepreneurs have a lot of stress and should always prioritize sleep. It's one of the easiest ways to get back on track, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and it can lead to having your most productive days as an entrepreneur.