“Sleep is the best meditation.” The Dali Lama
You, like most entrepreneurs I know, may wish you lived in a world where sleep wasn’t necessary. Many see sleep as an inconvenience that gets in the way of their productivity. In their ideal ‘dream world’, they would trade in sleep for an extra 8 hours of work. You may be so attached to the idea of trading in sleep for productivity, that you may actually try to avoid sleep by using stimulants such as caffeine, Adderall, Modafinil and sheer willpower to stay awake to complete a project.
This attitude is a trap that could ruin both your business and your health…
It has been said that all problems in life are a result of not accepting reality as it is. By trying to get away with less sleep than your body needs, you’re not accepting the reality that you need sleep to perform optimally.
Here’s the problem, if you’re not getting enough sleep or you’re not getting quality sleep, your decision making ability, creativity, learning and memory are all compromised. To win in the game of business you must consistently make good decisions. If you’re putting in extra work when you’re tired, you maybe making poor decisions in the process. In fact, the habit of staying up late and postponing sleep is scientifically proven to make you DUMB!
You’ve experienced this before. Ever worked late on a project and it seemed to take WAY longer than you expected it to? Perhaps you got confused and forgot where you was up to? And when you do finally complete the project and get to bed, you wake up the next day feeling fatigued? Sleep deprivation has a knock on affect meaning your work usually suffers the following day too.
Now, you maybe thinking, ‘Mark, I get 8 hours sleep so I’m fine’….
How do you know you’re getting 8 hours sleep?
Just because you get into bed at 12 midnight and wake up at 8am doesn’t mean you got 8 hours sleep. It means you were in bed for 8 hours but in all likelihood got somewhere between 6 1/2 to 7 hours of sleep. This is because it takes a while for you to get to sleep and once you’re asleep you wake up at certain points in the night. The only way to know if you’re actually getting 8 hours of sleep or not is by tracking it on a device like the Oura Ring (use code ‘dhamma’ for 10% off). Also, 8 hours of sleep is just a general guideline. You may find that you’re very healthy on just 7 hours of sleep or you may find that, like me, you really need 9 hours of sleep to feel at your best.
I give all of my entrepreneur health coaching clients an Oura Ring so they can see how much sleep and they’re routinely shocked at how little they actually sleep. Anything less than 7 hours of sleep has been shown to increase your chance of being overweight and less than 6 1/2 hours per night drastically increases your chances of obesity.
Ever wondered how long you can actually go without sleep?
Scientists guess, based on research done on lab rats and anecdotal evidence on people who’ve attempted to go without sleep, that we could live about 2 weeks before dying from lack of sleep.
How would you die?
In 2 weeks your immune system would crash and an infection would eat you alive. You may have noticed that when you’re not sleeping too well you catch colds easily, or after a stressful period of work you experience flu like symptoms. Heck, your whole life maybe a series of illnesses caused from chronic sleep deprivation!
While you may feel, productive when working until midnight each day, you’re more likely to be putting in lower quality work and then suffer from ‘burn out’ leading to you having to take time off while you recover from stress and illness.
I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs who refused to believe that they weren’t getting enough sleep. They lived in the fantasy land that they can work late and get up early without any consequences to their health. Often they would be drinking up to five cups of coffee a day to keep their energy levels up. They soon changed their tune when the results come back in from the hormone tests I put them through. Oftentimes their hormones (cortisol rhythms) are completely backwards and I’ve had male entrepreneurs in their early 30’s who’s testosterone is comparable to 40 year old women! All because they’re chronically fatigued.
Fighting nature is a foolish pursuit that can never be won. By aligning with the rhythms of nature you can unleash energy and creativity beyond your wildest dreams.
This argument about sleep reminds me about the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The Hare sprints to the finish line then get’s tired (or burnt out) and needs to rest for a while. The Tortoise on the other hand, takes his time and works at a consistent, sustainable pace and eventually wins the race. You want to be the Tortoise and have sustainable action.
Put your sleep first and you’ll be able to work smarter and for longer than your competition.
Here are some tips on how to get quality sleep so you can not only be more productive, but also be intelligently productive.
- Create a sleep routine like the one in this video
- Get to sleep BEFORE 10pm because sleep quality tends to reduce after 10pm.
- Stop working and turn off all electronics two hours before your bedtime so you can relax.
- Avoid artificial light (blue light) or wear blue light blocking glasses at least two hours before bed.
- Track your sleep quality using a health tracker like The Oura Ring (use code ‘dhamma’ for 10% off)
- Make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable.
P.S. In my upcoming book, The Supercharged Entrepreneur, I teach you the ‘7 Steps On How To Go From Fat, Stressed & Tired to Fit, Focused & Energized!’ Sign up here to be the one of the first to receive the book.