It's no secret that physical health correlates with success, and while many entrepreneurs are happy to talk about the benefits of eating nourishing foods and getting enough exercise, many struggle with one vital component of healthy living: sleep.
Scientists are increasingly vocal about the power of sleep. One study found that getting less than six hours of sleep per night is equal to a cognitive decline of four to seven years of aging, while another found that staying awake for twenty-four hours--something every CEO and entrepreneur has done at least once--produced impairments equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .10, which is over the legal limit of .8.
While sleep often takes a back seat to productivity, a lack of sleep decreases the brain's cognitive abilities, slowing productivity and inhibiting decision-making even when we don't feel tired. This is detrimental for entrepreneurs, who are tasked with new challenges and stressful decisions every day.
1. Give your work a bedtime.
Entrepreneurs often make themselves available 24/7 for their companies, but it's not likely that sound decisions are made through half-conscious emails at midnight. Sometimes fires erupt and must be put out, but a critical part of leadership is differentiating fires from everyday challenges.
Before you begin your nightly routine, jot down to-do's and ideas for the next day. Once your thoughts are somewhere other than your head, leave them alone. You'll get more done and think more clearly after a good night's sleep.
2. Clean your room.
Whether you keep your bedroom spotless or find comfort in a little organized chaos, it's difficult for anyone to relax in a bed covered with clothes, papers, and other clutter.
Clear your bed and drop the room temperature to around sixty-five degrees. Sleep is much easier when you're not distracted by clutter and your thermostat.
3. Turn off devices.
Many entrepreneurs waste time gazing aimlessly at social media on their devices as way to unwind, but screens distract us and keep us awake, in addition to tempting us to think about work when we should be focusing on sleep.
Turn off all devices at least thirty-minutes before bed. If you have to, keep them in another room. Don't fall into the trap of using your phone as an alarm so you can keep it next to you--use an alarm clock.
4. End your day deliberately.
Just as computers take a moment to shut down, our brains don't switch from buzzing activity to sleep in seconds. There should be ample time in your sleep routine to relax your mind in preparation for sleep.
As you're settling in for the night, do something that you enjoy and that doesn't involve a screen. Meditate, play with the dog, read a non-work-related book, or write in a journal to decompress.
Sleep is a valuable resource that can boost your productivity, cognitive thinking, and the creativity that drives your company--so don't neglect it. Make sleep a priority that you look forward to every night and your body and business will thank you.