Why do we sleep? Why don’t we sleep enough? These two questions are so juxtaposed. Yet we as a society seem to dwell much more on the latter than former. “Im too busy. Not enough time. Work. School. Kids…” We have heard these excuses numerous times and accepted them as legitimate reasons. But what if sleep was so important that these responses were not good enough?
The Science of Good Sleep
Humans spend roughly 36% of their lives sleeping. Sleep is either one of the most critically important and misunderstood functions or “a criminal waste of time.”
The most popular scientific theories on sleep consider it to be a two fold process. One part dealing with memory consolidation and creativity enhancement, and the other with body restoration. With this scientific studies have found 3 fold improvements in creativity from getting a full night of sleep. I do not know an entrepreneur with any significant levels of success who views creativity as anything other than the crucial game changer that it is in business and startup success. So why stifle creative juices before even rolling out of bed to take on the day?
Sleep deprivation is killing us, both physically and mentally. Physically, sleep deprivation leads to increased need and usages of caffeine and nicotine to stay awake. This becomes a destructive cycle as your tolerance increases and more and more of these potent drugs are necessary to achieve the same productive results.
Oh and let us not forget that people chronically getting five or less hours of sleep per night have 40-50 percent greater chance of being obese. With entrepreneurs this is extremely troublesome as individuals looking to launch their own businesses are subjected to much higher levels of stress and often long, long hours of computer work. These two terrible traits work in tandem to make the innovators and extreme entrepreneurs that much more likely to be physically unfit.
When we look at trends in sleep sufficiency the numbers are not promising and our next generation is following in our folly. Mentally, teenagers need 9 hours of sleep per night and average closer 6. Their brains cannot fully develop properly from these inadequacies. This crucial step in body and mind wellness and growth are simply being swept aside in favor of later hours, larger dosages of caffeine and chemical energy drinks.
Oh and here is the kicker…chronic sleep deprivation leads to chronic stress. Seems obvious enough, but chronic stress raises risks of practically every lifestyle disease known to man ranging from cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes to feeling super shitty.
Related: 4 Tips for Naming Your Business
Three Myths about sleep
1) We need 8 hours of sleep a night
This is actually only an average. Certain individuals need more and some need less. If your able to wake up without an alarm clock you should be good to go. If your tired sleep more.
2) Elderly need less sleep
False. Older people generally tend to sleep in shorter cycles. They also tend to fall asleep more frequently doing menial activities like reading or watching TV. In all they still need the same amounts of restorative sleep to function well.
3) “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Some of us are morning people. Some are night people. Work whenever you feel most creative and productive, be it 8 am or midnight.
So what does this all mean? If you are running your own business, working for a company, or whatever the hell it is you do, there will be times when you ask yourself if you can afford to take time out of your busy schedule to sleep…I ask if you can afford not to?
Strategies for Better Sleep
1) Avoid alcohol or caffeine before bed
While caffeine is a pretty logical destroyer of sleep many people question the problem with alcohol. Alcohol as a depressant should help you decompress and ebb into sleep. Unfortunately however the quality of sleep is not quite up to par. While you may fall asleep faster your sleep cycle is thrown off and less efficient or effective in restoring function.
2) Avoid electronic screens
Bright screens are brutal on the eyes. The laptops and cell phones are ancestors didn’t quite have are designed to replicate the sun during the day. This is excellent during the day when great work and high energy are helpful but this leads to over-alterness and difficulty falling asleep. If you can avoid them try reading a book or doing something non-technological before bed. If you must work on your computer then you ought to check out F.lux, an application to alter the intensity of brightness as the day progresses to ease your eyes and body towards the productive state of sleep.
3) Don’t work where you sleep
Just as you shouldn’t poop where you eat, working and sleeping in the same area is not helpful or healthy. Your brain associates different places with different things and by associating your bed and business together it makes you more apt to brainstorm business strategies than boost creativity, energy and performance while sleeping.
How Much Do You Sleep ?! Share in comments.