That business owners aren’t able to sleep well isn’t a surprise. Over time, studies have shown that there might be more than a vague link between entrepreneurial tendencies and poor sleep quality. And, the stress and long work hours involved with taking a business off the ground certainly don’t help!
At the same time, just because star entrepreneurs are notorious for their unusual sleep patterns, not getting enough sleep isn’t necessarily a sign that you are succeeding. What’s more, a 2019 study confirms that entrepreneurs who get enough sleep are better at identifying and seizing winning opportunities.
So, how can you overhaul your sleeping schedule and boost your business’s chances of success? The tips below might help fight entrepreneurial insomnia and reset scattered sleep patterns.
Picture Your Ideal Sleep-Wake Cycle (and Understand What’s Throwing It off Balance)
Our sleep patterns are dominated by two main drivers:
- The Circadian Rhythm – a 24 sleep-wake cycle dictated by our body’s internal natural clock
- Sleep pressure – the urge to sleep we feel when the Adenosine levels peak in our body
We are genetically designed to fall asleep when we reach an energy dip in our Circadian Rhythm and our Adenosine levels are at their highest. However, these two drivers don’t always combine.
Indeed, factors like light exposure, jet lag, and an erratic lifestyle can cause your sleep patterns to be thrown off balance, leaving you gasping for sleep and unable to reach peak focus and productivity during the daytime.
But before attempting to reset your internal body clock, it’s important to picture what you wish to achieve. For some, being a night owl works best because of certain shift patterns, while others prefer to take advantage of the high alertness of early morning. Set a goal for yourself based on your own lifestyle.
Gradually Shifting Your Sleep Hours
Once you know what you wish to achieve, it’s time to understand how to fix your sleep schedule – and the first step is to set the right expectations.
Firstly, how long it will take you to regain control of your sleep schedule depends on what has thrown it off balance. If you have recently experienced jet lag, you might recover from it in a matter of days or weeks. On the other hand, years of scattered sleep patterns can take just as long to be overridden!
In any case, you will need to start by gradually shifting your sleep hour toward your ideal wake-up or sleep time. To do so, consider the following tips:
- Set your alarm (or reminders) for 15 to 30 minutes earlier or later each day
- Stick to a routine, even if at first you’ll struggle to fall asleep immediately
- Avoid sleep procrastination
Manage Your Stress With Mindfulness Meditation
A highly stressful lifestyle like the one of an entrepreneur can take a significant toll on sleep quality and duration. But getting rid of stress from your life might just not be possible.
Luckily, there is a lot that you can do to manage your stress and redirect this energy towards productive tasks and business projects – starting with mindfulness meditation.
According to recent studies, even 5-minute sessions of mindfulness meditation or mind-body activities like yoga, when practiced every day, can help you boost self-awareness, keep at bay stress, and improve sleep quality. Consider making meditation a part of your wind-down routine!
Use Light Exposure to Your Advantage
As we have seen above, our Circadian Rhythm is what determines our daily wake-sleep cycle, as well as energy levels and other bodily functions like digestion and hormone release.
In turn, the Circadian Rhythm is highly influenced by the levels of melatonin in the body. This hormone – also known as the “sleep hormone” – represents the natural response of the body to darkness and light. As it gets dark at night, melatonin levels rise, signaling the body that it’s time to sleep. And, vice-versa, melatonin levels drop in the morning, helping you feel alert and awake.
You can control melatonin levels in your body by regulating your exposure to light. For example, creating a dark sleeping environment and avoiding light-emitting devices at night can help. In the morning, seek immediate exposure to natural light as soon as you wake up to kickstart the day!
Pro tip – taking melanin supplements can help you adjust your body’s melanin levels.
Turn Your Room Into a Sleep Sanctuary
When looking at the average hours of sleep CEOs get, it is easy to notice a pattern. On average, CEOs work over 62 hours per week, and only 16% of them manage to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
But how can you avoid dealing with tiredness and burnout while working as much as other entrepreneurs? The key is to maximize your sleep quality – and turning your room into a sleep sanctuary can help.
To do so, make it an electronics-free zone, keep it cool (60-67F), keep noise to a minimum, and, more importantly, keep it dark.
Adjust Your Daytime Lifestyle
Your daytime routine and lifestyle can have a profound impact on your sleep quality. For example, taking naps during the day, drinking alcohol, and smoking can increase the chances of sleep disruptions, insomnia, and disorders like what’s known as “rebound alertness”.
To promote sleep quality, consider exercising regularly, dedicating your bedroom to sleeping only, and getting out of bed as soon as your first alarm rings.
Pro tip – staying healthy while working from home can be hard, especially if you are running your own online business. Make sure to implement a solid routine to follow and dedicate separate spaces in your home to specific tasks or moments of your day.
Working in your bedroom and relaxing in your home office won’t benefit your productivity or your sleep quality!
Rule Out Underlying Health Issues That Are Disrupting Your Sleep
If you are able to manage your workload, follow a solid routine, and keep stress at bay but you still can’t sleep, you should consider consulting a specialized healthcare provider to rule out serious underlying health issues.
Chronic sleep disorders – like sleep apnea and insomnia – can be deeply rooted in your health, medical treatments, and lifestyle, and a specialist can help you understand how to treat them.
This is even more true for mental health issues like stress and anxiety, which can lead to a loss of sleep. In this case, working with a psychologist or investing in online therapy for entrepreneurs can help.
You Are What You Eat… Even When You Sleep
What you eat – and how you eat it – impacts all areas of your health. That is why you can improve your sleep quality by modifying your diet. Some golden rules include:
- Focus on a healthy diet that is rich in whole, natural, and seasonal foods
- If you are overweight or obese, work to get rid of the extra weight that might be the culprit of sleeping disorders like sleep apnea. You can check out this page.
- Adjust your meal times and avoid heavy meals before going to be
- Avoid spicy foods at dinner
Studies have also shown that techniques like intermittent fasting might lead to better sleep. Partner with a nutritionist to learn more about these strategies.
Pro Tip – Caffeine might be a lifeline for entrepreneurs, but the body can take up to 12 hours to process this stimulant. Make sure to avoid caffeine and caffeine-based ingredients for at least 4-6 hours before your scheduled bedtime.