Personal Health

Sleep Less, Feel Better and Get More Done With These 3 Tips

All through January, you hear people talking about wanting to be more productive, healthier and happier. But by March, resolutions fall by the wayside, and old habits return with a vengeance.

For 2015, the three most popular New Year’s resolutions were health-related. Getting fit, quitting smoking and eating healthy are admirable goals -- especially for entrepreneurs -- but if you’re struggling to get to the gym and trade your cookies for quinoa, there’s one “healthy” habit you can stop stressing about: getting eight hours of sleep a night.

Related: To Really Shine at Work, How Much Sleep Is Required?

Traditionally, experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults. As a busy entrepreneur, you probably aren’t getting that much, and that’s OK. Not only does the typical eight-hour sleep cycle cut into your productivity, but it also might be damaging your health.

Recent studies reveal that the optimal amount of sleep may be less than eight hours after all. Research shows that the lowest morbidity rates occur when people get around seven hours of sleep, but you can be healthy and energized with only five or six.

In fact, oversleeping is linked to an array of problems, including depression, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, headaches, back pain and death. Your body is meant to move, and the old “use it or lose it” adage is true.

So how can you feel less tired without getting more sleep? Here are three things you can do to feel fired up on just five or six hours of sleep a night:

1. Take the “energize your system challenge.”

For 30 days, cut out all milk, sugar, gluten and breads from your diet. You’ll be amazed at the sense of lightness and energy that builds inside of you. I do this challenge, and I definitely get an energy boost that makes all the difference to my productivity.

Related: 4 Eating Habit Changes That Can Boost Your Critical Thinking

2. Create a solid meal plan.

You won’t have energy without the proper fuel. Develop a meal plan consisting of three to five meals per day, striving to eat every three hours or so. For each meal or snack, focus on getting good protein (chicken, eggs or salmon), green vegetables and healthy fats from things such as cashews, almonds, flaxseed or coconut oil.

3. Focus on energizing, not sleeping.

Napping isn’t the solution for chronic fatigue. Not only does it throw off your productivity by breaking up the middle of your day, but it can also make you more tired.

Instead of taking a power nap in your office, try taking a 15-minute walk or moving your fitness routine to the middle of the day. Exercise will allow you to sleep better and feel more energized.

It’s not difficult to see how working these three strategies into your life can help you tackle several goals for the new year at once. By adopting healthy fitness and nutrition habits, you can naturally boost your energy level so you don’t have to use sleep as a crutch to feel better. Not only will you accomplish more, but you’ll also improve your overall health along the way.

Sleep better, look better, feel better and get more done. It sounds like 2015 is going to be a great year, after all.

Related: To Optimize Your Performance Cut Out the Sugar