Get All Access for $5/mo

How a Better Night's Sleep Can Help Entrepreneurs Stay Calm and Focused at Work Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and an inability to control one's anger.

By Brendan M. Egan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

andresr | Getty Images

The duck-in-the-water metaphor is often used by industry leaders to describe life as an entrepreneur. Ducks appear calm and collected at first glance, but they are actually paddling hard below the surface of the water to get to their final destination. Like the duck, entrepreneurs must remain calm in order to effectively lead their employees and grow their business, no matter how hectic it may be below the water's surface.

Staying calm can be difficult for anyone under a great deal of stress -- especially for entrepreneurs who are building a business. Fortunately, there is one simple way for entrepreneurs to stay calm at work no matter what obstacles they may encounter. Get a good night's sleep. Some entrepreneurs may find it difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, but don't give up. There are a number of non-habit forming products that can help.

Related: 15 Unexpected Things That Are Stealing Your Sleep

It's important to learn how sleep affects your mood so you understand the link between a good night's sleep and staying calm at work.

How sleep affects mood.

Whether you'd like to admit it or not, at some point you have probably apologized for snapping or lashing out at someone by saying, "Sorry, I'm just tired." This isn't just an excuse that entrepreneurs fall back on to justify bad behavior -- sleep really does affect mood.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and an inability to control one's anger. In fact, even partial sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on a person's mood. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that participants who slept only 4.5 hours a night for one week reported increased levels of anger, stress and sadness. As soon as they returned to their normal sleeping schedule, they all reported a drastic improvement in their moods.

Researchers believe sleep deprivation leads to an increase in activity within the amygdala, which is a structure in the brain. It is also believed that a lack of sleep affects the amygdala's ability to communicate with another part of the brain that regulates its functioning. The increase in activity combined with the lack of communication between the amygdala and its regulator leads to more negative emotions, which makes it harder for sleep deprived people to stay calm.

The importance of staying calm at work.

Being around someone who is angry and irritable can make people feel uncomfortable and tense. As an entrepreneur, it's your job to motivate and inspire those around you, not scare them away with hostility. Everyone makes mistakes, so employees should be able to forgive you for an isolated incident. But after repeated outbursts, employees may start to view your inability to remain calm as a lack of respect or empathy.

Related: Here Are 7 Gadgets at CES Designed to Help You Sleep Better

Not only will this affect your relationship with your employees, but it will also impact your effectiveness as a leader. It is challenging to make employees feel comfortable sharing new ideas if they are worried that something they say may cause you to lose your cool. Employees will also take less pride in their work and lose motivation if they don't feel as if they are being appreciated. Therefore, it is crucial for entrepreneurs to remain calm if they want to get the most out of their employees.

Tips for getting a better night's sleep.

Based on these studies, getting a good night's sleep may be better for business than burning the midnight oil. If you're having trouble falling asleep at a normal hour, try to avoid consuming any type of caffeine after 2 p.m. everyday. Even if you have a high tolerance for caffeine, it can continue to affect your alertness for hours after it has been consumed.

Don't pop sleeping pills before going to bed, either. This may seem like an easy way to fix your sleep struggles, but sleeping pills can actually make you more tired and irritable the next day. If you do want to use a sleeping aid, a supplement such as Som Sleep is preferable since they promote rest and relaxation instead of acting as a sedative.

Related: 16 Things That Lack of Sleep Can Do To You, According to Science

If you wake up in the middle of the night, experts recommend never laying in bed for more than 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, get out of bed and find something boring to do so you can fall back asleep. Instead of turning on the TV, which is stimulating and can make you feel more alert, read a boring section of the newspaper or fold clothes. Doing these activities will clear your mind and make you feel drowsy so you can return to bed and sleep until morning.

Winding down and going to sleep at a normal hour can be hard if you are under a lot of stress as an entrepreneur, but it's worth it to preserve your relationship with your employees, maintain a positive working environment and stay focused on building your business.

Brendan M. Egan

Founder & CEO of Simple SEO Group

Brendan Egan is an entrepreneur involved in more than a dozen startup companies. His primary focus is running Simple SEO Group, a digital marketing and web development company he founded nearly a decade ago. He published his first book, "101 Tips From The Marketing Masters," in early 2020.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


Taylor Swift Has a Lucky Number. And She's Not the Only High Performer Who Leans Into Superstitions to Boost Confidence.

Even megastars like Swift need a little extra something to get them in the right mindset when it is game time.


SEO Trends You Need to Be Aware of Right Now, According to a Seasoned Pro

Navigate the future of search engine optimization to elevate your online presence and drive meaningful engagement.


These 3 Big Tech Companies Offer 6-Figure Salaries and Easy Interviews — Especially If You Follow This Expert's Advice

There are far more candidates than positions, so being strategic on the job hunt is key.

Health & Wellness

4 Habits I Cultivated to Become a Healthier, More Effective Entrepreneur

By the time I hit mid-life, some of my bad habits were becoming a risk to my long-term business goals — and my health. Here's how I was able to change them.