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Admit it. It’s the first thing you have to go for when you’re under the gun – a good night’s sleep.
You are on a deadline. You have to do this project. You are in the middle of a launch. There’s too much to do to fit everything into your regular schedule. Therefore, burn the oil at midnight. When your head finally touches the pillow, it will cost you an eternity to go to sleep, because your brain will not stop.
But hey, it’s worth it, right? You will rest when the emergency is over. As a doctor, I have heard it all. I know the logic. I used it myself. The thing is, when employers do it, they shoot themselves in the foot. Worse, they could be preparing their business and failure.
Sleep deprived employers are slowly committing suicide
You know how you feel when you don’t sleep well, but you take care of yourself. This is what entrepreneurs do.
You are not alone. In a survey of Inc. 500 CEOs, nearly half (48%) said they sleep six hours or less a night. The recommended amount is 7-8 hours. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) of more than 180 leaders also found that four out of 10 (43%) said they did not get enough sleep at least four nights a week.
I see it in my practice all the time. Business professionals who are sinking “for business”. They tell me, “I can do it, Doc.” and “I’m used to it.” For sure. Then I find that their blood pressure has gone up, they have gained weight, their blood sugar levels are rising and they are on the path to prediabetes, heart disease and more.
No wonder. Studies have shown time and time again that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of all these conditions, as well as colorectal cancer and premature death. “I’m fine,” they say. Well. But there is one thing I cannot prove in the doctor’s office that is very important for entrepreneurs: their cognitive health.
You need your brain to make this business a success. What you may not realize is that your brain needs sleep.
Related: 8 reasons why sleeping is crucial for entrepreneurs and leaders
Entrepreneurs who do not sleep have a higher risk of failure
Here’s what makes your cognitive performance lack sleep. Most of the time, these deficits occur after a night of poor sleep:
It harms attention and working memory (your mind is wandering)
It affects long-term memory and decision making
It makes it harder to concentrate and stay vigilant on a task
Disrupts arithmetic capacity (removes calculator)
It alters blood flow to parts of the brain
Reduces reaction time
It degrades more creative and divergent aspects of cognition (forget about finding creative solutions to your business problems)
During sleep, the brain goes through a process of “cleansing” that prepares it for a new day of thinking. In a 2019 study, researchers noted that cerebrospinal fluid removes metabolic waste products from the brain during sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re basically operating with a dirty, clogged brain and can’t wait to make good decisions for your business.
Sleep deprivation affects your emotions
Researchers reported in a 2018 study that sleep deprivation and sleep debt caused the emotion of anger. Did you blow up your star programmer and damage your relationship? Yes, blame it on not receiving the seven hours the night before.
In fact, researchers have found a connection between sleep quality and the supervisor’s daily abusive behavior in the workplace. It is not surprising that this behavior has led to a decrease in commitment to employee work, a bad end result for the company.
Another recent study found that sleep deprived people experienced a general reduction in positive emotions and showed less ability to regulate their negative emotions. And forget about good communication. According to a 2017 study, those who were sleep deprived had more difficulty accurately recognizing the emotions of others. In a state of sleep deprivation, you are more likely to misinterpret the instructions of others, overreact to events, and express yourself in negative terms.
All of these symptoms affect every part of your business, from how you communicate to what decisions you make to how quickly you find solutions to problems. On the other hand, sleeping what you need could be the key to business success.
Related: Getting better sleep can help entrepreneurs stay calm and focused at work
Employers who prioritize sleep perform better at work
A recent study from the University of Central Florida found that entrepreneurs who reduce sleep may be hurting their efforts to succeed.
The researchers surveyed 700 business people around the world about their sleep habits. They then created several business plans and had an independent group of experts rate the success of these plans from best to worst. Finally, study participants evaluated the plans and rated them in the same way.
The results showed that employers who reported good sleep consistently identified good plans rather than those who did not. “Evidence suggests that less sleep leads to less accurate beliefs about the business potential of a new business idea,” said lead author Jeff Gish.
Entrepreneurs who sleep well at night are also more likely to get new ideas. In a 2013 study, those who slept happily were more likely to discover a hidden shortcut to a task than those who did not sleep well.
Of course, sleeping improves complex decision making, which is key to directing your business in the right direction. In 2014, scientists discovered that sleep improves performance in a complex decision-making task, adding evidence to the adage that “sleeping in it” is a good idea.
Related: Regaining control of your sleep life … from an insomniac entrepreneur (in recovery).
But what if I can’t sleep?
You know you need to sleep between 7 and 8 hours a night, but maybe you’re struggling.
Again, you are not alone. Researchers have found a link between entrepreneurs and insomnia and other sleep problems. Among employers, lack of sleep created ADHD-like trends that seemed to help people run their new businesses. But the benefits were short-lived.
If sleep problems persisted, they left the entrepreneur without the “cognitive and emotional competence to be an effective entrepreneur in practice,” according to study author Jeff Gish.
Some of the problems that can affect my sleep are:
Tendency to be on my phone or computer late at night (blue light envelops your melatonin and alters sleep patterns)
I keep working even after I get home
Difficulty closing my brain
This inability to separate work from domestic life is common and can weigh heavily on entrepreneurs. Scientists reported in 2018 that work-related stressors substantially affect how employers, in particular, recover and separate from work during non-working hours and, consequently, how they sleep at night.
Here are some tips that have helped me. Here we hope they also help you sleep well. If not, do your best to sleep on the problem; you are much more likely to find a solution!
- Have a specific downtime when you turn off all appliances: television, telephone, computer, laptop, etc. Make sure this time is at least two hours before bedtime and keep it up no matter what.
- Keep all the technology out of the bedroomsincluding televisions.
- Have a bedtime routine which includes the following: a relaxing activity, dim lights and a quiet atmosphere.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol at least four hours before bedtime, especially if you are sensitive to these substances.
- Keep a notebook by the bed – If your brain is working, take five minutes to write a diary about your ideas and try to sleep again. If you can’t, write down what you’re thinking until you’ve spent your brain, and then try reading a good book to relax.
- Use white noise and / or music to help you fall asleep. Meditation apps like Calm can also help.
If these and other good sleep habits don’t help, be sure to do so talk to your doctor. Your business and your health depend on it.