Any small business owner is privy to the notion of being so busy that you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Everyone has encountered those weeks at some point or another where time runs so short that you have to decide between sleeping, eating, or showering.
When you are running a business, there are never enough hours in the day, especially at the beginning. Everyone knows that subconsciously, and yet we don’t cut ourselves a break now and again. Instead, we put every last drop of our energy into cultivating the company. But like a new parent, you need to really embrace the mantra that you cannot take care of your company without first taking care of yourself. If you don’t sleep and continue to perform poorly at work it can reap irreversible damage on your company.
If you have a list a mile long of things you need to do, but not enough hours in the day to get it done, don’t sacrifice your sleep. So many of us think that if we just skip a few hours of rest and work until dawn we can get it all done. But at what cost?
Why You Need Sleep
You may not realize it yet, but what you really need in order to get more done is not coffee or a few more hours in the day, but rather, sleep. There is actual science behind rest and rejuvenation.
The reason you need to rest is because your brain needs to process information that it cannot do when you are awake. The brain will review and reinforce information which is learned during the day. You also dream when you sleep, something which allows your brain to not only work out any emotional problems but also solidify your memories and thoughts.
During the first ninety minutes of sleeping, you are in what is referred to as the REM cycle. During this part of your sleep cycle, your brain is energized. Your hormone levels adjust in order to promote alertness in the morning. This part of the sleep cycle also regulates your feelings of hunger.
In order to perform at your best, you need basal sleep. This is the regular amount of sleep required for you to perform which, for most adults, is between seven and eight hours per night.
But when you don’t get your required basal sleep, you acquire sleep debt. When this happens regularly, you increase your risk for weight gain, heart disease, depression, and substance abuse.
Playing Catch Up
Of course many people misconstrue the idea of “sleep debt” and assume that they can catch up on what they have missed. Does this sound familiar…
The sound of the alarm wakes you. You lean over and search in the dark for the snooze. It is Saturday and like most hard working business owners you long for the extra few hours of sleep after a long week.
While this may seem like the cure for missing sleep all week it is not doing your brain any favors. If you just finished a long week at work with little sleep, sleeping in for a few hours on the weekend will not improve your brain performance. It will not reverse the cumulative effects that sleep deprivation—even mild deprivation—has on your cognitive function. When you are sleep deprived your stress hormones and inflammatory levels increase, but when you sleep regularly, these levels revert to normal.
Your brain does in fact accumulate sleep debt—what happens when you lose sleep due to late nights at the office or early morning meetings or any combination of the two. You cannot repay your sleep debt by sleeping in over the course of one weekend. You can repair your sleep debt by adjusting your schedule so that you get ample rest consistently. If you really want to catch up, you should add an hour or two of sleep each night on a regular basis until you return to a regular schedule.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to function. The result is toxic levels of stress in your system. You will wake up feeling groggy in the morning in lieu of refreshed. Improper sleep can also reduce concentration needed to properly run your business while leaving you fatigued, with headaches and a horrible mood. You will feel what many people describe as “fog” in your mind. Overall, lack of sleep and therefore lack of oxygen to your brain will literally shrink the memory part of your brain in the long run.
Proper sleep and a proper sleep schedule can reduce all of this. It can reduce strain on your brain and your heart, reduce the levels of stress hormones in your body, improve energy levels, reduce headaches, and even reverse the shrinkage in the memory part of your brain.
If you run yourself ragged more days than not, getting only bouts of sleep that can best be described as patchy, it will greatly interfere with your concentration and your memory… both of which greatly interfere with your business and your ability to run your business.
You must create and retain some semblance of a regular sleep cycle. The success of your small business depends on it. By going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day–yes, even your precious weekends—you will give you body and brain the optimum sleep it needs.
So if you want to stop forgetting important business numbers, due dates, and names, get regular sleep. With proper rest and rejuvenation you can improve your business performance!