Why Proper Sleep is Important to Entrepreneurs

Sleep Fuels the Mind.

Any guide to entrepreneurship will extol the virtues—no, the necessity—of passion, of giving everything you have for the business.  I couldn’t agree more.  But “everything,” if you think about it, can’t be taken literally.  The word “everything” has a built-in qualification.  If you literally give everything there will be no you and your successful business will be sitting in an empty room looking for an owner.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that depriving yourself of sleep means you’re more dedicated, and thus a better businessperson.  And it certainly doesn’t mean benefits to the bottom line.  Here’s a look at why sleep is more important than you might think.

Work Smarter Not Harder

Don’t listen to messages screaming “More! More! More!”  It just isn’t the case that simply doing more work will get you optimum results.  Not only do you have to work “smarter” in terms of being efficient, but, no, really, you have to be smarter.

Successful companies are run on good ideas—initial ideas and subsequent good ideas—good investments, clever marketing ideas, out-of-the-box moves.  You need vision and insight.

A study in the journal Sleep shows that people who sleep less than six hours per night suffer impairment in the areas of verbal meaning and inductive reasoning, as well as scoring poorly on the Mini Mental State Examination.  It’s easy to see yourself doing more work, but it’s important not to overlook what’s going into the work.  Making a decision doesn’t mean making a good decision, and signing a check on the basis of faulty inductive reasoning is not a cheering prospect.

Keep All Your Brain Cells

Another study, this one in Nature, demonstrates that if you don’t get enough sleep, certain neurons in your brain will stop firing while you’re awake, the same way they do during sleep.  In other words, these neurons will get their sleep whether you do or not.  This explains why people feel sluggish or ineffective when drowsy or after not having had enough sleep.

Better Life for Better Business

When people don’t sleep enough they often neglect various parts of their lives.  A sleep-deprived person isn’t going to be generous with one’s time, more prone to have lunch with her mom, volunteer a couple of hours at the soup kitchen, exercise, meditate, etc.  The time you spend away from actual work will probably be spend absently surfing the web, sitting in a near-stupor in front of the TV or youtube, feeling you’ve earned this sort of relaxation.  In fact, you might feel that this relaxation is what you need to recharge.

Yet, perhaps running or meditating, seeing some nature, reading a bit of poetry is exactly what will help you recharge.  You can try to save time for these things by skimping on shut-eye, but running your brain into the ground and experiencing irritability and lack of focus won’t net you more of these helpful items.

Better Life for Better Life

So far I’ve been talking about ways in which more sleep helps the bottom line, how it can yield improvements that funnel their benefits directly to your profits and losses.  But there’s also your life in general.  Your business is ultimately there to make you happy, to help you have the life you want.  If you have a life bottom line and the business’s bottom line is there to contribute to that, then things that make you a more satisfied person overall are ends unto themselves.  It’s key to attend to the health and well-being issues above as a way of contributing the the real bottom line.