Sleep quality may seem like a strange subject for a blog about business growth but bear with me. Researchers have proven over and over again that getting enough quality sleep greatly impacts our productivity. If our mind and body are properly rested our focus and creativity improve greatly during waking hours. That in turn increases both the amount of work we get done and the quality of that work.
How long do I need to sleep?
The first thing we need to address is the amount of sleep we are getting. Researchers indicate that the average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep per night. That doesn’t mean that you can sleep 4 hours a night during the week and then “crash” to catch up on Saturday. Sleep needs to be gotten consistently to be effective.
So, how much sleep do I actually need? To determine that, you need to experiment a little. Decide where you are going to start and set up a sleep schedule that matches. So, if you want to start with 8 hours and want to get up at 6:00 am, that means you need to go to bed no later than 10:00 pm the night before. Set an alarm for 1 hour before your bedtime and set one for your wake time. Sleep on that schedule for at least 14 days. Then adjust according to how you’re feeling. If you’re easily waking up just before your alarm goes off, then that’s a good schedule for you. If you have to hit the snooze button several times, then you need more. And, if you wake up more than 20 minutes before your alarm regularly, you need less. Adjust accordingly by ½ hour at a time on whichever end you want. Continue your new schedule for at least 14 days and adjust again until you find the right number for you.
How do I improve my sleep quality?
There are several ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Try some or all of these.
No screens for 1 hour
Turn off all screens at least 1 hour before you go to bed. This includes the TV, computer, and your phone. While you may think you need the TV to fall asleep to, watching it until you go to sleep, or worse leaving it on while you sleep, will reduce the quality of your sleep. The blue light emitted by the screens on cell phone, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Comfort /use of your bedroom
First, only use your bed for sleep. This will create a signal for your brain that it’s time to sleep when you’re in bed. It’s even better if your entire bedroom is reserved for sleeping. In addition, set the temperature cooler than during the day. Sleeping in a cold room boosts the production of melatonin, which is not only a sleep hormone but also a powerful antioxidant. Studies have found that temperatures between 60-67 degrees are best, with cooler temperatures in this range being linked to deeper sleep.
Quiet Your Brain
Starting about an hour before bed, perform the following to quiet your brain and prepare it for sleep.
Finish your current task
Complete whatever your working on whether it be loading the dishwasher, writing a blog post, or creating a marketing plan. If you can’t finish within 15 minutes, come to a good stopping point and write a note about where you are and what needs to be done next. That will keep your brain from having to remember the details and allow it to release the project completely.
Do a brain dump
Take 5-10 minutes to write down anything currently in your brain. A reminder to buy lettuce at the store tomorrow, an idea for a new product, a task that you need to do, . . . whatever you think of make a list. Then, tomorrow morning, handle the list. Quickly do the task or add it to your daily to-do list, master task list, or big idea book. This step is important so that your brain knows that these things can now be forgotten.
Spend 10-15 minutes to plan out what needs to be done tomorrow. This not only helps your brain tonight but will also make tomorrow run more smoothly.
Make sure you have a notebook handy
Keep a notebook by your bed so that you can quickly jot down any thought that wakes you up, dismiss it, and go back to sleep. Make sure you handle any notes you made tomorrow just like with your brain dump.
Meditation is the use of a technique to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. There are several apps that are available to help with meditation if you want. A couple that I’ve used in the past are 1 Giant Mind and Headspace. An easy meditation technique is to focus on the breath. Once you’re in bed, lay quietly and focus on breathing in slowly and then exhale fully, and just let yourself drift off to sleep.
As you implement these techniques, you should start to see your sleep quality improve and therefore your productivity increase. Comment below or send me an email at email@example.com to let me know how they work for you and any other tips you might have to share.
Check out these blog posts for more information on how your daily life can improve your business bottom line: