When it comes to sleep, entrepreneurs are often tempted to burn the candle at both ends for long periods. However, given that sleep affects productivity, it's essential that those who want to succeed get a great night's sleep each and every night.
When you absolutely must sleep less than you know you should, there are a multitude of things that cna still help you to get a great night's sleep. Here, SleepyPeople.com offers 11 sleep hacks that every entrepreneur needs to know.
1. Get your body clock into a routine
What: Set yourself a sleep schedule and stick to it - every night!
Why: Your body clock loves a routine and you'll feel better for it.
However long you choose to sleep each night, do your body clock a favour and let it get into a routine. Set yourself a bed time and a time to get up each morning and night and do your best to stick to it.
2. Take it easy before bed
What: Resist the temptation to work through until bedtime and take time out to unwind.
Why: We all deserve some "me time" and a chance to forget about work.
It's all too easy to work through the evening and turn off your laptop or put down your paperwork right before you go to bed. Instead, spend half an hour relaxing with a warm drink (don't forget to choose decaf tea or coffee at night) and a book (no, not a work-related one) or sat in front of the TV and you'll find it far easier to get to sleep. This, of course, means you'll feel brighter and be far more productive in the morning.
3. Work out how much sleep you actually need
What: Let your body tell you how much sleep you as an individual need each night.
Why: Sleeping the right length of time will ensure your productivity is always at its peak.
We all need different amounts of sleep. However, many entrepreneurs would swear that they only need four or five hours a night. Is that true? Probably not, although some will be able to function relatively normally on this amount for a short period.
How much do you actually need, though? We're all different so go to bed and don't set your alarm. Wake up naturally and you'll soon know how much sleep you as an individual needs.
4. Ban screens from the bedroom
What: Make your bedroom a completely screen-free zone.
Why:Eliminating screens removes distractions and light, and lets you concentrate on getting a great sleep.
The light emitted by the screens on your devices can be a real barrier to getting a great night's sleep, so do yourself a favour and ban them from the bedroom. You really don't need to check your emails at 2am when you wake up for the loo and social media shouldn't be the last thing you see before your head hits the pillow.
5. Keep the bedroom cool
What: Don't let your bedroom get too warm by keeping the heating turned down.
Why: The optimal room temperature for sleeping is 15C-18C, not the usual 21C.
It is suggested that the optimal room temperature for sleeping is no more than 18C. Let your duvet provide the warmth while you sleep and enjoy the feeling of getting under the covers in a cooler room.
6. Save the bedroom for sleeping
What: Remember that your bedroom is for sleeping in - not for working or being entertained in!
Why: By letting your brain associate your bedroom with sleep, you'll find it easier to drift off at night.
Your bedroom should be for sleeping (and other accepted 'bedroom activities') and nothing else. While some enjoy watching TV sat in bed, not having that clear divide between the bedroom and the living room can make it difficult to relax and nod off. Let your brain associate your bedroom with sleep and the living room or home office with any work or leisure activities. On this not, it's also important that your room and bed are comfortable. If they're not, don't be afraid to make some changes.
7. Write tomorrow's to-do list tonight
What: Write out tomorrow's to-do list in the evening to let yourself shut off.
Why: Entrepreneurs are often guilty of thinking about tomorrow's to-dos when trying to sleep. Write them down and forget about them.
By taking the time to write out your to-do list at night for the next day, you'll find it far easier to shut off and forget about work while you get to sleep, knowing that you've written down what needs to be done tomorrow and that you don't need to worry about remembering anything.
8. Write out your problems or keep a diary
What: Don't let worrying keep you awake at night. Write your problems down alongside possible solutions.
Why: When we worry, we struggle to relax and subsequently to fall asleep. Eliminate your worries from your mind and get a better sleep.
Being an entrepreneur always comes with its difficulties but such 'problems' almost always have a solution. Write these down before you go to bed and get them out of your mind. As with writing a to-do list, it's all about going to bed with a clear head.
9. Listen to white noise or sounds of nature
What: Drown out noise pollution in hotel rooms, from others in the house or from outside with white noise or nature sounds.
Why:We're often surrounded by distracting noises when trying to sleep, which often can't be removed.
Even when fast asleep, our brain is listening for sounds that could mean danger and research has previously shown that listening to white noise (using a fan can help achieve the same result) or sounds of nature can drown out distracting noises and help you get a better night's sleep.
10. Practice mindfulness meditation
What: Download an app or buy a book and practice mindfulness meditation before bed.
Why: Mindfulness-based sleep meditation can help with many of the issues that stop us sleeping.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind's attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts to evoke the relaxation response - perfect for helping you get to sleep.
11. Save caffeine for the morning
What: Don't be tempted to drink caffeinated drinks to help you stay awake. Save caffeine for the mornings.
Why: Caffeine WILL keep you awake at night if you drink too much and the effects can last for anything up to 14 hours.
Too many entrepreneurs replace sleep with caffeine. However, this can lead you into a vicious circle where it ends up keeping you awake when you need to sleep. You may need a morning kick to start your day but do yourself a favour and keep away from coffee and energy drinks after lunch.