As a business owner, you’re managerial skills are among your most valuable assets. For many, however, their failure to manage their own sleep schedules can have a negative effect on their productivity, mental outlook, decision-making and overall health.
Make Sleep a Priority
Successful business owners are often pride themselves on their ability to work long hours, including nights and weekends, with very little sleep. Many find it easier to get things done after-hours when they can work uninterrupted for hours at a time. “Sleep” they’re fond of saying, “is a luxury.” This mindset may gain the respect of their employees and customers but it can also take a toll over time.
Negative Effects of Sleeplessness
Prolonged sleep deprivation can result in a lack of creativity and focus and stamina. It can also cause one to become irritable, short-tempered and nervous.
Over time, the lack of sleep can cloud your judgment and cause you to become overly critical of yourself or others. It can also cause the opposite effect. You may find that you’re settling for less than the best from yourself and others.
Small mistakes caused by your lack of focus can compound over time and lead to larger mistakes that require increasingly greater resources to rectify. Like falling dominos, sleep deprivation can slowly unravel years of hard work and dedication.
Manage Your Time to Allow for Sleep
Everyone runs up against “hard deadlines” and emergencies that require them to burn the midnight oil on occasion. Such situations, however, should be the exception and not the rule. Whenever possible, schedule your daily activities ahead of time and do your best to stick to that schedule. You might consider making two lists; one for activities that truly must be completed today and one for activities that can wait until tomorrow if necessary.
Avoid the Vicious Cycle of Sleeplessness
A number of scientific studies have shown that the human body functions best on between seven and nine hours of sleep per 24-hour period. Unfortunately, making up for lost sleep isn’t a one-to-one proposition. In other words, sleeping an extra two hours one night to make up for a loss of two hours of sleep the night before simply doesn’t work.
At some point, the need for sleep will cause what some refer to as a “crash” where the individual may sleep for twelve to fourteen hours or more. Unfortunately, many people see the body’s attempt to adequately recuperate as simply time wasted which leads to a perpetuation of the cycle.
Develop Good Sleep Habits
If you’ve been in the habit of operating on too little sleep for an extended period of time, you’ll need to retrain your mind and body by adopting good sleep habits. Avoid ingesting stimulants like coffee, caffeinated tea and soda for at least four hours prior to bed time.
You should also turn off the television and computer at a reasonable time. Some people find that reading helps relax their minds and improves their sleep. Others find that mild physical activity helps clear their minds and relax their bodies. However, it’s usually best to avoid strenuous physical activity or exercise. In the beginning, getting your body used to your new sleep routine may be a challenge but over time, you’ll find that calming your mind will get easier.
Try Early Mornings Instead of Late Nights
On those occasions where you simply must work additional hours during the day in order to meet a deadline, try starting your day earlier than normal instead of working late. Arriving at the office an hour or two before the start of business will provide the same quiet time available in the wee hours of the morning. It will also give you time to prioritize your day’s activities with a fresh and focused outlook on the day.