Sleep’s for losers... isn’t it?
Updated: Jun 26
Functioning on 5 hours sleep? You’re short-changing yourself – and your business.
Many people pride themselves on getting by on 5-6 hours sleep a night, and working hard. But if that is you, the truth is, you’re simply making life harder for yourself.
Less than 6 hours sleep a night means you can’t concentrate. Fact. Your mood will also suffer: irritability and agitation are well-recognised effects of sleep deprivation, as are blurred vision, clumsiness, disorientation and slow response time.
Being chronically exhausted feels terrible too - let’s not forget that sleep deprivation was a favourite tactic of the KGB and the Japanese in WWII.
The bottom line is that a good night’s sleep is as important to your health as eating the right things and exercising. Your physical and emotional wellbeing depend on you sleeping well.
The health of your business depends on you and your staff getting enough sleep. Yet we’re living in sleep-deprived times. Some people are even competitive about how little sleep they’re getting, as if dragging yourself through the day on just four hours’ rest is a badge of honour. Scientists tell us we’re now getting an hour or two less sleep each night than we were 60 years ago.
But I’m fine….
The purpose of sleep is to allow the brain to process memories and emotions – a process crucial for learning and higher-level thought. What’s more, when you sleep, your brain produces the hormones needed for energy, mood regulation and mental sharpness. Business-critical stuff.
Sleep is also a time of rejuvenation and repair for your body. Without sufficient sleep, studies show that we are likely to get sick more often, and suffer from low mood and poor motivation.
If you’re the one driving your business forward, then you need to prioritise your sleep. When we’re chronically sleep-deprived, multi-tasking is a struggle, and picking up subtle messages and subtexts in meetings will be nigh-on impossible. In short, sleep is necessary for optimal function – of you and your business.
How much sleep do I need?
These processes of repair, processing and restoration take 7 to 9 hours, which is the amount adults need every night – regardless of what you think you have trained yourself to get by on.
The actual amount of sleep each person needs does vary. Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning without an alarm is a good indicator you’re getting enough. Work out how much sleep you need by going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find that you wake up naturally before your alarm. That’s your personal sleep requirement.
The dos and don’ts of a good night’s sleep
Go to bed at the same time every day; your body thrives on routine.
Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot, nor too cold.
Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
Keep the bedroom completely dark. Your brain detects light even when your eyes are closed. Light sleepers should get an eye mask.
Spend time outdoors to soak up the sun.
Exercise every day; evidence tells us both stretching and aerobic exercise improve restful sleep. A brisk walk ticks both boxes so get out at lunchtime. Every single day.
Make an effort to relax for at least 5 minutes before going to bed - a warm bath, massage, meditation.
Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or gloves to bed.
Get a traditional alarm clock so your smartphone (and all it’s work-related functionality) can stay out of the bedroom.
Engage in stimulating activities – like playing a competitive game, watching an edge-of-the seat film, or having an important conversation with a loved one. Using smartphones and tablets can interfere with sleep, because they emit the same kind of light as the morning sun.
Eat a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.
Drink caffeine after lunch – like coffee, ‘normal’ and green tea, and colas.
Use alcohol to help you fall asleep – it is proven to make sleep more disturbed.
Go to bed too hungry. Have a snack before bed – a glass of milk or banana are ideal.
Did you know that long-term lack of sleep puts you more at risk of becoming overweight or obese? I run Intelligent Wellbeing, a weekly wellbeing group for the chronically stressed, tired and sleep deprived. It’s the only wellbeing group where health comes first and weight loss is a happy side-effect.
Click HERE to find out more.