One of the best thing about being a small business owner is that you can enjoy as much freedom as you wish, particularly when it comes to being in control of your working hours. This means you may not prefer to work the usual 9-5 working hours. Some days, you might be up late, past midnight working on tight deadlines or wake up at 5 am to rush to client meetings. However, you must become aware that unusual working patterns will onset some adverse impacts on preserving a consistent work-play balance especially your sleeping patterns. Further, when family commitments are also put into the balance, it becomes difficult to achieve the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep by the National Sleep Foundation.
Although sleeping appears to be a period of resting, it is a phase filled with brain activity.
The sleep cycle passes five stages from stages 1-4 (known as non-REM sleep) and then REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Stage 1 is light sleep; stage 2 will occupy almost 50% of our full sleep and around 20% in REM sleep. The remaining 30% will spread over the remaining stages.
Although, sleeping may seem passive and unproductive, the one-third of the day we spend towards sleep, contributes directly to how energetic and successful the other two-thirds of our day becomes.
Sleep impacts the regular body functioning and our physical and mental health in various ways. Lack of sleep can cause memory loss, tiredness, confusion and impairment in cognitive thinking, lack of productivity, poor decision making and risk taking behaviour.
Physically, it can cause high levels of stress and lead to depression. Moreover, lack of sleep in the long term can result in serious issues such as heart attacks, stroke, type two diabetes and obesity.
Although 8 hours sleep is essential, each body is unique. Therefore, the necessity of sleep is controlled by your body’s internal clock which controls the phase of resting and wakefulness throughout the day.
If the problems that lack of sleep could produce can’t get you to sleep enough, how can you improve your sleep?
I have no doubt you know this already. Cutting down on the amount of caffeine intake can help you improve your sleep. Since caffeine is known to have half-life from 4-6 hours, if you drink coffee at 4 pm, half of that will still be bustling around your body at 10 pm, hindering your sleep. Although a cup of coffee in the morning is okay, anything after that is likely to disturb your REM sleep, leaving you feeling irritated and groggy.
Let’s accept it that it is hard to keep away from technology in bedrooms in the 21st century. However, the lights emitted from your technological devices can expose you to both mental and physical wakefulness. These lights can disturb the hormones that regulate your sleep cycle, which means you do not get proper signals to enable you to sleep.
Tucking away your devices few hours before bed can hugely improve your sleep. Whether it is checking work emails or bookkeeping on tablets, it all can wait until the morning.
Build a routine, give yourself a consistent sleeping pattern. This will help regulate a constant internal body clock and enable you to sleep better and wake up refreshing next day.
It is clear the amount of sleep needed depends on the individual, and there are different methods to get more sleep. It is difficult for those individuals in the working world who do not operate during regular hours to get the full 7-9 hours in one go, known as polyphasic sleep schedules, which vary from 2-4 hours of sleep a night.
Uberman Sleep Schedule
In this, you get around 3 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, which is split into six naps of maximum 30 minutes. This is considered to be a sleeping technique that was preferred by Leonardo Da Vinci and supposedly Made People Wake Up Feeling Refreshed.
Get sleep between 1 am-4 am and then take three naps of 20 minutes during the day. This has been known to increase flexibility and ability to get through the day without taking many naps.
We could be living the Spanish dream by sleeping from 1 am to 4 am for 4 hours and then a 90 minutes nap at midday.
Some high profile personalities such as Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton and Silvio Berlusconi state they can get through the day with less than four hours of sleep. Though, others such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Ariana Huffington claim they need their 8 hours sleep each night.
Whatever method you choose to hibernate, just think about all the effects better sleep can bring to your business and personal life.
It is obvious that while a few can operate with less than the recommended amount of sleep, are you getting enough sleep to run your small business successfully?
Written by Guest Blogger: Nisha Kamalanathan