Whether you’re a successful entrepreneur or one in the making, chances are you aren’t having the best sleep of your life right now.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll be plagued with constant worries about money, contacts and whether you’ve made the right decision by striking out on your own. And if you’ve already “made it”…well, that comes with its own set of problems – from juggling endless meetings to figuring out how to declare tax on your newfound wealth.
Being an entrepreneur is an exciting and risky way of life. After all, the sense of freedom that being in control of our own work brings is why many of us choose this path in the first place.
Still, while entrepreneurship certainly has its advantages, it can be downright exhausting. Weeks, months and even years of irregular working hours and late nights can take their toll. Relationships and even your health fall to the wayside as you chase your dream. And still, after all the hard work and energy you burn, day in, day out…you still can’t sleep when you need to.
The result is a more fatigued, less productive version of the savvy entrepreneur you want to be. You may find yourself feeling irritable, more prone to illness and not exactly motivated to get that business up and running.
Luckily, there are a few easy sleep habits you can adopt to keep your body and mind active, when it matters most. And because I’m feeling in a generous mood, I’m going to share them with you now!
1. Keep your office out of the bedroom…
…and make it your sleep sanctuary instead.
Because while it might be tempting to send those emails from your phone as you lie in bed, or even to unwind with a movie on your laptop, bringing these devices into a sleep environment isn’t doing you any favours. For one, the blue light that they emit overstimulate your mind instead of winding it down. They also block the production of serotonin, which usually calms us down and sends us into Snoozeville earlier.
No matter how important it is for you to schedule that meeting, or finish that pitch or even post that witty comment on your social media profile…getting a good night’s sleep should be higher on your list of priorities. By going to bed early – and getting to sleep soon afterwards, free from the glare of screens – you’ll be more capable of fulfilling these tasks come morning.
So take my advice: Do whatever work needs to be done in your study, or in the kitchen or in the living room…just keep it out of the bedroom. And if you can, leave at least an hour between shutting them down and shutting your own self down; giving your mind and body a chance to relax.
2. Chow down on the sleepy stuff…
…the stuff that’s not in pill format!
Because if you’re eating the right foods before bedtime, you won’t need to turn to sleeping tablets when insomnia rears its ugly head. Try sleep-promoting foods like bananas, kiwis, almonds, or walnuts before bed for a snack that’s tasty and snooze-inducing, too! Why? Well, these bad boys contain magnesium, which leads to the production of serotonin. If you’re following so far – and hopefully you’re awake enough to do so – you’ll know that serotonin leaves us feeling calm, relaxed and in an ideal state for slumber.
These foods also contain potassium, which acts as a natural muscle relaxant. So by eating something like almond butter on toast, or drinking a banana smoothie made with almond milk before bed, you could actually be snacking your way to a sounder sleep. Yay!
3. Cut out the hyperactive stuff…
…and go herbal instead.
Since I’ve mentioned things you should eat I may as well include some things to avoid. Processed, sugary foods and anything that contains caffeine are a big no-no, especially in the evenings. In fact, the effects of caffeine can last for up to 6 hours; so if you’re chugging back espressos after that business dinner, chances are you ain’t getting to sleep anytime soon.
If you feel like you can’t function without coffee (and believe me, I know the feeling!), have your last cup no later than 2pm. Switch to a relaxing herbal tea like peppermint instead and your sleep will thank you for it.
Same goes for those snacks like biscuits, sweetened yogurts or ice-cream that you tend to reach for in the evenings. They increase your blood sugar, making it harder to relax and can also cause you to feel hungry during the night when the “crash” kicks in. Meanwhile, slow-burners like wholemeal toast or sweet potato wedges with hummus will keep you feeling full and satisfied until morning. Yummy.
4. Fill up those lungs…
…with something other than petrol fumes.
Because while city living might be essential for your work, it isn’t the best thing for your health. The smells, the noises, the media – they can be somewhat overpowering and again, can overstimulate your mind when it needs to become settled.
By getting a regular dose of fresh air in, you’ll start to notice how your sleep, your mood and your overall health improves. Of course, a hike up a mountain might not be a feasible option for you; but even getting away from your computer for a quick walk around the block can work wonders.
Try to get at least half an hour of exercise in every day – with as much “outside time” as possible – and bedtime might be something you welcome rather than dread.
5. Look to the east for inspiration…
…and learn to meditate.
Lots of successful companies have cottoned onto the fact that meditation helps employees to become more productive, more creative and better decision makers…so why not incorporate it into your own life as an entrepreneur? Not only can it turn you into a better businessperson, it can dramatically reduce the stress and anxieties that both big and small businesses so frequently involve.
Even 10 minutes of meditation in the morning can leave you feeling with a more focused, energised and positive outlook for the day. And a guided relaxation exercise at night-time is a sure-fire way to calm your body and mind, setting you up for a great sleep. By doing a little meditation every day, you’re recharging yourself in the healthiest possible way.
6. Treat yo’self…
…to some bedtime luxuries.
Ok, ok, money might be tight right now but really, you can’t put a price on good health. And since getting a better sleep is the first step to being a healthier and happier you…well, it ain’t rocket science. It pays to pay up for the sleep stuff.
For instance, it’s worth spending a few extra bucks on a comfy mattress. It’s going to last you for years and will be with you all night, every night…so why would you want to scrimp on something that only gives you a bad back and a worse mood?! There are even mattresses out there to suit your preferred sleeping position. By choosing one that’s right for you, you may find that you sleep sounder and wake up feeling like – gasp – a morning person.
7. Don’t be stingy…
…and get enough sleep.
Ignore that dude from the networking event who bragged about only needing 4 hours of sleep a night. Ok, so he might be able to perform just as well as you on a given task on that much sleep – but throw in an obstacle or ask him to multitask and he’ll turn into an incompetent mess. Fall, you shoulda seen that pride coming!
The reason being is that without enough sleep, our cognitive function is reduced. Big time. So we can do things we’re familiar with, and even do them quickly; we’re sort of on autopilot. But if we really have to think, to concentrate on what we’re doing…well, we feel like we need a nice big nap first.
By getting enough sleep, every night (the experts recommend 7–9 hours), our minds will be sharper, more capable of making smart decisions and more competent to deal with challenges as they arise.
As any entrepreneur knows, we need to have our game face on all the time – and it really helps if we’re awake enough to do so!
Time to turn in…
So, there you have it folks – 6 easy sleep tips to keep you charged up for whatever your work life throws at you. Use them to stay rested, stay energised and stay on this exciting path you’ve chosen for yourself.
In the meantime, I wish you all the best in your chosen venture…and the sweetest of dreams, tonight and every night.