All about sleep
Some business owners will think “why you are treating me like a child” when discussing a topic like sleep routines. It may be that they’re completely natural with their night’s sleep, but if they’re not, sleep could be costing their business dearly. So let’s find out why.
Sleep is one of the 4 pillars. It’s essential to all humans and many animals. However, sometimes there’s a belief that sleep is for the weak. Besides poor sleep being connected with Alzheimers later in life – it reduces the ability of your mind to clean up plaques – good sleep quality helps to reduce overwhelm and improves the ability to handle the ups and downs of our emotions on a daily basis.
What is a sleep routine?
Let’s be sure that we understand what we’re discussing.
A sleep routine is the wind down towards falling asleep each night; your bedtime routine. The goal is to fall asleep fairly quickly and remain asleep for the entire night, except for the occasional wakeups, where you fall asleep again quickly.
For most people, 7 to 9 hours is adequate sleep each night, but if you’re getting less than this hours regularly, you may be bordering on insufficient sleep and not be allowing your body and mind to rest for long enough. However, people are different and you should listen to your body.
Your routine might be something as simple as reading a book in bed. It might be more complex too, involving a bath, a hot milky drink, a book, and listening to relaxing music while you go to sleep.
It’s typically seen as unhealthy for a sleep routine to include using a mobile device too late – especially when checking on emails and other work tasks – since people can find it harder to get to sleep naturally. So put that device down early and get a good night’s sleep.
My own personal routine is listening to an audiobook. I have struggled with getting to sleep at times of my life, with thoughts winding their way round and round and round. The audiobook gives me something else to focus on and allows me to fall asleep in bed in around 15 minutes.
Why is sleep so important?
Well, during your sleep, your mind stores and categorises information from the day, moving it from short to long term memory – effectively hitting the “save” button. In doing so, we create new space for the next day. We wake up, hopefully, feeling refreshed and ready for the challenges of the next day.
If a business owner is struggling with falling asleep, or staying asleep, it will be incredibly difficult to function at peak productivity, which is the goal of any business owner – whether you run a bakery or are CEO of an international tech company.
Sleep deprivation will also lead to an inability to control your emotions and be more irrational, while simultaneously reducing your ability to learn.
Outside of business, sleep can affect your attractiveness – it’s been tested! And that was just after one night of poor sleep. It can also make heart attacks and strokes more likely – in fact, you’re 24% more likely to have a heart attack when you lose the hours sleep for daylight savings time.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say sleep is essential for life, and we are much more susceptible to the effects of even minor sleep deprivation than we would think.
Combined, all of these effects will clearly negatively affect you and your team. In short; sleep problems become business problems very quickly.
How can a sleep routine help?
One of the first questions people will ask if you’re struggling with getting to sleep is “have you got something on your mind at the moment?”. Well, for business owners, they likely always have something on their mind.
It can be useful to keep a notepad by your bed in case you want to make any important notes before you go to sleep, or allow yourself to ask Siri to remind you of something the next day.
Another way to accomplish this is to mind-dump into a journal at the end of each work day. This would probably take the form of a list that you make about anything that’s on your mind. You can then email this to yourself the next day in order to help you recognise that there’s nothing more important for you do today, other than fall asleep.
How can you build a sleep routine for you?
I suggest looking at what relaxes you and allows your mind to switch off from the day. This might take some trial and error to find the item or formula which allows you to drift off and stay soundly asleep.
First, you must consider your sleep cycle. What times do you want to be asleep between? Let’s presume, for the sake of argument, you normally have a sleep duration of 8 hours. Decide on the time you’d like to wake up, and work back from there. This will ensure that you don’t need – or rarely need – to wake up with an alarm clock. When you think about it, why would you not continue the process of sleep when it hadn’t finished? It would be like stopping your washing machine cycle before it has finished; there will be negative residual effects.
With only 5 hours of sleep, you’re 4 times more likely to catch a cold, since your immune system will not restock.
If you need to wake around 7am, you will need to be going to bed at the latest around 10.30pm, and getting to sleep around 11.
Try to keep to roughly the same sleep schedule, if you can, since it helps regulate your circadian rhythm. Most of us have felt how jet lag knocks us off balance and having that every day doesn’t help.
Here are a few ideas to help your sleep routine
- Ensure you have a comfortable sleep environment.
- Get into bed an hour before sleep.
- Hot milky drink
- An easy-to-read book
- Listen to an audiobook either before you settle down, or on a sleep timer when you’ve switched the light off
- A bath
- Deep breathing
- Journaling about the day
- Listening to relaxing music
- Slowly lower the lights in your bedroom
Activities which will negatively impact your sleep routine
Typically you should avoid activities that are rousing or exciting. These would include:
- Aerobic exercise
- Using your mobile phone
- Watching a film
- Caffeine – which can include chocolate
- Heavy, sugary, spicy or fatty foods
- Video games
- Get involved in emotive conversations
Getting help with your sleep
If you’re significantly struggling with sleep, and you aren’t feeling fulfilled after each night, you might want to speak to a sleep specialist to check if you have a sleep disorder. They will be able to discuss the situation with you in more detail and check for conditions like sleep apnea – which is where your airways temporarily close during sleep, It can interrupt your deep sleep.
In the meantime, you might be able to take a daytime nap to supplement the amount of sleep you’re getting. You may think this time is all for your business, but your health and wellbeing are essential to the functioning of your business; you can’t look after others if you’re not looking after yourself.
It might seem like a sleep routine was something your parents forced you to have each night as a child, but it was for good reason; sleep is essential for us all and it helped you to develop a good relationship with sleep.
As an adult you may be able to choose your own routine, but as a business owner you owe it your company – and your future health – to ensure it’s one that will leave you refreshed and ready for the next day.