The ROI of a Snooze: 3 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Needs to Invest in Quality Sleep
For as long as I known, entrepreneurship has been associated with working ridiculously long hours during the day, often followed by sleepless nights, in a bid to grow a business, or to at least keep it afloat.
Lots of entrepreneurs get trapped in that unhealthy cycle. In fact, it took Arianna Huffington's collapse from exhaustion in her office, during which she broke her cheekbone, to prompt that media mogul to start extolling the virtues of a balanced life.
As someone used to pulling all-nighters working, it was often a struggle to leave my work for even just a couple of hours of quality sleep. But then the thought hit me: Why do the successful entrepreneurs I admire the most all put so much emphasis on a good bedtime routine and the importance of seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep?
For example, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, shared how his nighttime routine includes six hours of sleep. To make sure that he gradually guides himself to that state, he's written, he switches off all his devices for a while before going to bed. (Huffington does the same.)
On a good day, we all know that taking a good night’s rest is essential. And, if you're an entrepreneur who is extremely passionate about your business and keeping it afloat, you'll surely agree that having a good night’s sleep is as vital as breathing.
It may seem counterintuitive to take hours off work and invest it in more quality sleep, but this action may be what actually changes your business for the better. Why? Here are three reasons.
1. Your chances of staying alive to work on your business are higher.
In one test by the Sleep Foundation, subjects restricted to six hours of sleep a night for 14 consecutive days performed as poorly on cognitive and motor tasks as test subjects who'd gone without sleep for two nights in a row. So sleeping "just a few hours" isn't a good alternative to no sleep.
The problem is that poor sleep hygiene has been shown to negatively impact "the heart, lungs and kidneys; appetite, metabolism and weight control; immune function and disease resistance; sensitivity to pain; reaction time; mood; and brain function." So, yes, lack of sleep can actually kill you.
Related: Too Much Sleep Can Kill You, Scientists Say
If you're an entrepreneur, it’s basically impossible to effectively run a business when you’re not functioning properly, inside. And, to be frank, you need to stay alive to actually run the business. Going days with barely a blink of sleep takes a toll on your body, and pretty soon you’ll collapse. So will your business.
In fact, a report from Deloitte Access Economics showed that 394 out of 3017 people in Australia who'd lost their lives between 2016 and 2017 did so as a result of falling asleep at the wheel of a car or being involved in a sleep-related industrial accident.
2. It increases your productivity and performance.
Have you ever stayed awake so long that you feel like a zombie the next day? Getting your business up and running requires you to function at your optimal level. And you can’t expect to be productive if you’re not alert and focused.
Sleep deprivation affects your cognitive ability, which affects your overall level of productivity and performance at work. When you have poor cognitive ability, you end up reacting more slowly than normal; and you find it difficult to make decisions and even solve problems. In fact, a lack of sleep results in a dip in your energy levels. You become less creative and easily lose focus.
3. You'll get high-quality work done
There’s this misconception a lot of people have about work, that spending more time at work means you're getting work done. However, it’s not just how much work you do that brings you success; the quality of your work plays an important role too.
Lack of sleep negatively affects your moods, ability to focus and make good decisions. Bill Clinton once said that the mistakes he'd made in life could be connected to the fact that he was too tired.
So, the bottom line: You may be putting more hours into your work, but poor sleep inevitably results in that work being of poor quality.
It's all up to you.
I know it will be a challenge to drop your work and sleep more. But when you look at what you stand to gain as a business owner, you’ll admit that the ROI of sleep is worth every hour invested in it. So, try harder to to aim to get the recommended amount of sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you need about seven to nine hours of sleep. Although a lot of successful entrepreneurs’ sleep time hovers more around six hours, even that is certainly better than going around with less than that in your system.
My advice? Make friends with your bed and invest in more sleep. Create positive habits that will help you sleep better. And, of course, take things one step at a time and gradually that welcome snooze will become a part of your routine.