This Simple 10-Minute Trick Can Help Entrepreneurs who are Too Busy to Sleep

Every minute of life is gold but working too much can leave you feeling exhausted

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There are only so many hours in a day, so making the most of them is critical. We have to eat, work, sleep, and do zillion other tasks in between those 24 hours. Yes, it can be difficult to tick all the boxes and still feel energetic and refreshed all the time.

Being productive at work, especially, can be a real struggle at times. But it isn’t exactly rocket science, only if you manage your time, eat right and, most importantly, sleep well.

Train to Relax

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every day is one of the most important factors when it comes to productivity, and also one of the most affected, given the busy and connected lives we lead. But there’s a short cut. A new study on entrepreneurs, published in the Journal of Business Venturing, claims that 10 minutes of mindfulness practice (read meditation) every day has the same positive brain effect as 44 minutes of sleep per night.

In the study, “Close your eyes or open your mind: Effects of sleep and mindfulness exercises on entrepreneurs' exhaustion”, American researchers explain that exhaustion is a prominent problem in entrepreneurship because it inhibits cognitive functioning, opportunity identification and evaluation, decision-making, and perseverance. “Across two studies, we find that both sleep and mindfulness exercises provide avenues for entrepreneurs to combat exhaustion. More interestingly, we find that these two factors compensate for one another; as the usage of one increases, the efficacy of the other decreases. This has important implications for reducing exhaustion and improving cognitive functioning and motivational energy among entrepreneurs,” they say.

Charles Murnieks, an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in OSU's College of Business and the study's lead author, however, notes that one cannot replace sleep with mindfulness exercises, “but they might help compensate and provide a degree of relief. As little as 70 minutes a week, or 10 minutes a day, of mindfulness practice may have the same benefits as an extra 44 minutes of sleep a night,” he says.

The Tough Stretch

In a study of 105 entrepreneurs, the researchers asked participants about their exhaustion levels. Over 40 per cent of the respondents reported working 50 hours or more every week, on average, and sleeping less than six hours a night. The researchers found that the entrepreneurs who slept more, or who engaged in the highest levels of mindfulness exercises, reported lower levels of exhaustion.

In the second study of 329 entrepreneurs, the researchers again asked about mindfulness practice, perceived exhaustion and sleep. The study confirmed the findings of the initial study, that mindfulness can combat feelings of exhaustion.

But Murnieks is quick to add that if you’re feeling stressed and not sleeping, “you can compensate with mindfulness exercises to a point. But when you're not low on sleep, mindfulness doesn't improve those feelings of exhaustion.”

“There are times when you're launching a new venture that you're going to have to surge. Mindfulness exercises may be one way to provide some relief during those tough stretches,” he suggests.