Firas Kittaneh is the CEO and co-founder of One Mall Group, a group of specialty e-commerce brands including Amerisleep, an eco-friendly luxury mattress company. His award-winning team is focused on bringing housewares online to a larger consumer base using cutting-edge technology. Learn more about his passion for entrepreneurship and fitness by following him on Twitter (@firaskittaneh).
Building a business is exhausting.
Indeed, for many entrepreneurs, sleepless nights are a regular occurrence. With an ever-growing list of responsibilities, a nagging sense of urgency at work may forbid you from ever laying your head down for a proper rest. To burn the midnight oil may seem like a good idea--a few extra hours of work must certainly increase marginal output, right? Wrong.
That said, the negative consequences of sleep deprivation far outweigh any extra productivity you think you gain from staying awake a while longer to complete "one last task."
A survey by Harvard Medical School in 2006 suggests, "Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do." To make up for endless evenings spent at your desk, you may want to spoil yourself by dedicating time to personal recreation. Without energy to do so though, you may catch yourself dozing off while out one evening with friends. The entrepreneur's mantra of "work hard, play hard" does not take into consideration our very human limitations.
Simply put, you can't have it all--despite your best intentions. Also, as boring as it may seem, quality time in bed without distraction may help enhance every aspect of your life, both personally and professionally.
Your mind can sometimes play tricks on you. In a recent report, researchers from the University of California, Irvine and Michigan State University "found that under certain conditions, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing false memories."
For ages, we've known that sleep deprivation has a strong negative impact on cognitive performance. An article published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment confirms, "First and foremost, total [sleep deprivation] impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory."
On the flip side, if you want to memorize something, take a nap. A lost night's sleep may seem innocent enough, but the costs of sleep deprivation are easily higher than most entrepreneurs can truly afford.
Have you ever found yourself snapping at an employee, only to apologize later in the day when you've had sufficient time to clear your mind? As an entrepreneur, your mood is subject to change as your business experiences ebbs and flows. Those feelings are heightened, though, when you are sleep deprived.
In the 2006 Harvard Medical School study referenced earlier, researchers found that sleep loss often resulted in "irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness." Poor judgment and impulsiveness are expected when you are low on energy. But still the fact remains: you are responsible for your actions regardless of whether you're at your best or your worst.
When you're sleep deprived, all you want to do is rest. So instead, you grab a coffee, do a few jumping jacks or blast some music. The deprivation consumes you and much of your waking time. Not only does your body begin functioning poorly, so does your mind.
When running on fumes, there is a dramatic difference in your overall performance. It is the difference between concentrated and focused output versus lackadaisical effort.
You may be surprised by what a better night's sleep can do for you and your business. In fact, the brilliant minds that have survived time--Thomas Mann, Ludwig van Beethoven, Benjamin Franklin--probably slept more than you do.