Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their business. They want to do whatever it takes to make that business successful, even if it means putting in long hours, working through weekends, and going through emails late into the night.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard or being committed to your business. But once your working approach begins to affect your sleep, it could have devastating consequences.
Fortunately, it’s easy to stave off the worst effects of sleep deprivation if you make healthy sleep a priority.
The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
First, don’t underestimate the potential destructiveness of sleep deprivation. After even a single night of missed sleep (or low-quality sleep), you may run into effects like the following:
- Impaired coordination and delayed reactions. People running on little to no sleep tend to have trouble with coordination and reacting to their environment. It’s the reason why drowsy driving causes car accidents that kill more than 1,500 people every year.
- Poor memory. When you haven’t slept well, you’ll have a harder time committing things to memory. You may be able to engage your colleagues in a responsive conversation, but you might forget everything they said 20 minutes later.
- Reduced cognitive function. Overall, a sleep deprived mind won’t be able to operate as effectively as its well-rested counterpart. You’ll find it harder to come up with new ideas, solve problems, and even get through the little manual tasks that bog you down each day. In other words, you’ll be far less productive.
- Irritability. Sleep deprivation also has the power to affect your mood, rendering you more irritable and less capable of managing your negative feelings.
After a few nights of low-quality sleep, or if you miss nights of good sleep on a regular basis, you’ll start seeing more powerful, chronic effects, such as:
- Weight gain. Often, when we’re feeling tired, our brains trick us into feeling hungry – a desperate attempt to feel more energized. Combined with the stress from not sleeping, this can lead to rapid weight gain (and a host of related physical problems).
- Increased risk of physical health issues. Over time, sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of various physical health issues, including diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
- Increased risk of mental health issues. You’ll also be at increased risk of various mental health issues. You’ll subjectively feel more stress, you’ll be at higher risk of anxiety and depression, and you’ll find less enjoyment from life than you used to.
- Decreased immune function. In some cases, sleep deprivation can also weaken your immune system, compromising your natural ability to fight off infections and certain illnesses.
How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation
The good news is that it’s entirely within your power to prevent sleep deprivation. Consider using the following strategies to get better sleep in your own life:
- Make sleep a priority. Your first goal should be making sleep a major priority in your life. Don’t think about sleep as something you do only when you’re done with everything else; commit to getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night and build your schedule around it. If sleep is important to you, you’ll find a way to make everything else fit.
- Invest in a better sleep environment. Next, make sure you’re sleeping in the best possible environment. A nice, supportive bed and a high-quality pillow can make a huge difference in your ability to get to sleep; it’s also important to make sure your room is as dark and quiet as possible.
- Reduce consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and other substances. Caffeine may keep you going throughout the day, but it can wreak havoc on your sleeping schedule – so limit your intake. It’s also a good idea to reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Keep your sleep schedule consistent. Try to keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake at the same hour each morning. In short order, you’ll find it much easier to get to sleep and stay asleep.
- Avoid screen time before bed. Digital screens can help us stay productive, but they’re terrible for your ability to sleep. Try to limit your screen time to a minimum before bed; read a book instead.
- Exercise daily. Get some vigorous physical exercise each day to burn extra energy, relieve stress, and make you more tired. It makes it much easier to sleep well on a consistent basis.
With better sleep habits, you can become a better entrepreneur. You can become more focused, better capable of critical thinking, and even put yourself in a better mood on a consistent basis. Everything starts with your commitment to getting quality sleep on the regular.