I’m guilty: I scroll through my smartphone as I’m winding down for the night. It’s not uncommon for me to reply to a comment on one of my Facebook business pages or scan work emails. And there, by the yellow night-mode glow of my phone, I set myself up for failure. It feels like I’m getting a jump-start on the next day’s tasks, but I’m actually inhibiting my body from moving into relaxation mode to enjoy restorative sleep.
I know I need a good night’s sleep, but I’m drawn to my friends, family and readers. I want to see what they’ve been up to on social media, read more articles on Medium and play with the filters on Instagram. There’s so much to view online, and it’s always available, making it difficult to simply turn off each night.
I know I’m not alone. Well, entrepreneurial friend, we need to actively find a healthy balance between rest and work if we want to excel in our businesses and avoid burnout.
What Is Sleep Deprivation?
You can become sleep deprived if you don’t get enough sleep, don’t get the right type of sleep or don’t sleep at the rights times, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Your ability to function depends just as much on sleep as it does on having enough food to eat, water to drink and air to breathe.
The Harvard Business Review published a piece on sleep deficit that’s pretty terrifying. If you stay awake longer than 18 consecutive hours, you’ll notice a decline in “reaction speed, short-term and long-term memory, ability to focus, decision-making capacity, math processing, cognitive speed and spatial orientation.” When you’re deficient in sleep, both mental and physical health issues surface. Injuries are more likely and productivity dips big time. You’re at risk of increased blood pressure, obesity and even an early death.
Night after night of only four to six hours in bed isn’t doing you any favors. The negative effects of sleep are cumulative. It’s possible to develop the same level of cognitive decline when you restrict sleep as if you tied one on at the pub. You wouldn’t dream of showing up to a work function drunk — but yawning is almost a badge of honor affirming your late nights as a determined entrepreneur.
How in the world are you supposed to successfully operate and grow a business under those circumstances? Sleep seems like a pretty routine, almost trivial part of the day, until you realize what a lack of it can do to our bodies.
In short, not enough shut-eye could lead to the demise of your business venture.
Balancing It All as an Entrepreneur
When you start a new business, you wear many hats: marketer, salesperson, production worker, customer service rep and accounting pro. It’s all on your plate to balance, so it’s critical to get into a cycle of healthy self-care.
Making nutrition, exercise and sleep scheduled priorities on my daily calendar have helped me push forward in the ongoing development and refinement of my business. Yes, I add naps, yoga classes and time to cook healthy meals to my work schedule. Honestly, I can tell that I’m less productive when I succumb to processed foods (oh, pizza delivery), skip gym time and stay up too late. Again, that cumulative effect takes hold.
The American Sleep Association says the only way to treat sleep deprivation is to increase your total sleep time. Those morning and afternoon runs to the coffee shop won’t cut it. Instead, start adding short 15- or 20-minute naps to your days, hit the sheets earlier and don’t feel guilty about sleeping in on a day off.
A good night’s sleep might be just what you need to come up with your next business move. Turning Zs into $ sounds pretty good to me.