Most entrepreneurs think that working day and night, burning the candle at both ends and being everywhere at once is the golden ticket to success.
While hard work and applied input into a new venture is absolutely important, slogging day and night may actually have an adverse affect.
Why sleep is important
Getting enough sleep and switching off is essential to the success of your business. Most professional athletes get no less than ten hours of sleep a night. This ensures that they are able to perform at their peak during the day, whether training or competing.
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As a professional business person, you too need to get enough sleep in order to perform at your best. The more overtired you are, the less likely you are to remember important tasks, your performance slows down and you are more likely to fall back into old habits, meaning that new creative ways to execute tasks becomes redundant.
What happens to your brain while you are asleep
The brain’s plasticity, which helps you process and learn can only be maintained by sleep. Your cerebral cortex – the thinking part of your brain- also needs to be able to rest.
Without the right amount of sleep, your brain simply starts to run on autopilot. When your brain isn’t able to rest properly, you are more likely to become irritable, forgetful and can cope less with stressful situations.
“Catching up on the weekend”
This is an absolute myth and about 99% of the time one uses the weekends for other things, such as working or household chores.
The actual truth is no matter how much you sleep over the weekend, you will never recoup the hours lost during the week.
Oversleeping also affects your brain and performance, so be careful of falling into the “I’ll catch up over the weekend” trick.
Follow these steps to ensuring you get enough sleep:
1. Make a list of to-dos for the day
Be realistic in allocating tasks that can be done during the day. Once your mind is cleared of these tasks, it will be easier to switch off and not worry about work. What can’t be done today, can’t be done. You are not being a hero by burning the candle at both ends.
2. Make exercise a priority
Whether it’s joining a gym or local sports group or simply walking around the block, be sure to make time for this every day. Exercise assists in boosting your mood, making you feel better about yourself and sharpens your cognition. It also helps you sleep better at night.
3. Eat healthy
Eating the right foods at the right time of day affects the type of sleep you get. For example, eating a heavy carboloaded dinner late at night may negatively affect your sleep, because it takes a lot longer for it to digest. Eat a healthy meal at least two to three hours before going to bed.
4. Make downtime a routine
Switch off all electronic devices such as your TV, cellphone and most importantly your laptop at least an hour before bedtime. Read a book or try meditation instead.
Clearing your mind of any external clutter will allow your mind to slowly switch off into sleep-mode.
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5. Live a little
It is very important to not take everything too seriously, being an entrepreneur does mean that you need to sit at your desk 24/7 and not enjoy the finer things in life.
When your mind knows that you have planned a social evening or a picnic in the fresh air, you automatically become more relaxed and sleeping becomes easier. Let go of the serious things when you can and enjoy the less serious elements in life as well.
Taking your personal health and performance seriously is just as, if not more important than taking your new venture to new heights.
Enjoy the finer things, take the time to regroup and you will be surprised how your business efforts improve, objectives become easier to achieve and your mood automatically adjusts for the better.