For far too long many hustlers in the business world have spurned sleep as an add on extra. Sleep? Only a necessity to be minimalised as much as possible so as to keep on working long hours.
It turns out that Professor Sleep himself, Matthew Walker, claims that a few nights of only 6 hours of sleep gives the average human a decrease in performance/focus/capacity approximately as severe as being drunk! Whoops! Maybe we needed that sleep after all!
Why don’t we notice we are sleep deprived when we (and others) can tell if we are drunk? We are woefully ill-equipped to assess how much our productivity plummets with too little sleep. After all, Homo Sap has lived for hundreds of thousands of years not ever imagining that anyone for any reason would willingly restrict sleep! No other animal voluntarily restricts sleep and no human thought to do so until some of the madness of the information age set in during the 20th century.
So can we now get rid of that boasting about “getting away with” fewer sleep hours than the rest of us? Can we now excoriate anyone who says blithely, “I can sleep when I’m dead!”
Statistics show that you will have lots more of that post-death snoozing time for ‘catching up on your sleep’. if you do skimp on sleep this lifetime. Mortality rates prove that you are statistically likely to die younger if you short your sleep, providing lots of time to catch up on “sleep”. An early death might not have been your goal? (footnote #1) Read on!
In fact, over the long term, many more health risks are so plainly correlated with sleep that some suggest simply sleeping longer might be the best weight loss diet of all! Indeed, your chances of earning obesity, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and many psychiatric disorders are all statistically worse if you practice sleep restriction!
Let’s look at the solutions as we will briefly touch on during our upcoming Tablelands Business Summit3.0, The Rise of Transformative Tech, on 4th April in Atherton.
Step One: Decide if you are willing to change your sleep patterns. If you are not yet willing, skip the following steps and come back when you are ready!
Step Two: read up on sleep hygiene as there is a long list of aids to sleep which will only be noted in dot point form here:
- Establish your personal circadian rhythm (your diurnal and nocturnal inner clock) to determine your chronotype (footnote #2)
- Try to avoid naps if they interfere with your sleep, are too long or too late in the day. However, Dr Sleep, Dr Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep?) gives great advice about how to determine if your naps are constructive or an impediment to enough sleep. Don’t let the scaremongers frighten you out of napping if it works for you! (Footnote Why We Sleep)
- Work out a possible bedtime for you that is workable, and, if you have been burning the candle at both ends, try for 10-15 minutes earlier each day/week/month so you can gradually get to a bedtime that allows you to spend a minimum of 7 hours snoozing.
- Find one of those clever alarms that gradually awakens you at the best moment in your final sleep cycle of the night.
- Turn down your thermostat as research shows that around 18 degrees is an optimal sleep temperature. For those of us in the tropics, it is often the case that we need to cool a bedroom rather than turning down the heater!
- Ponder whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both.
- If you awaken in the night and take longer than, say, 20 minutes to fall asleep, leave that beckoning bed and go elsewhere to do a quiet, relaxing activity like reading a book (not scary, please!). The bedroom is, according to every sleep expert, to be used for sleep and sex and nothing else! Especially no work!
- Cease all screen viewing well before your chosen bedtime (like 2 hours previous!)
- Install f.lux or similar on any screen you feel you must use after dusk.
- Also, turn off all white light and use red or orange light bulbs until bedtime. If you have a rheostat, turn down the light intensity as of dusk. (Think of primitive humans who had only orange-red firelight after dark. That is what your physiology demands! You can be as clever as you like with those crafty computers but your biology demands firelight after dark and an early sleep time, not more screen time!)
- Use blue blocker glasses to block any residual blue light
- And in the morning, get out and soak up 20 minutes of sunlight (take your spectacles off for this exercise!) to encourage melatonin production at the right time in the evening. This is part of re-setting your circadian rhythms.
- Use blackout curtains if you have outside lighting streaming or sneaking in from the windows.
- Use supplements or calming rituals (maybe an evening guided sleep meditation?) and/or music to bring on your personal sleep mode. Melatonin is the hormone that tells you it is time for sleep. Endless other supplements can help with relaxation and drowsiness. Even humble magnesium is recommended before sleep.
- Avoid prescription sleep medication. It wreaks havoc with sleep cycles and particularly with dreaming (REM) sleep and can lead to addiction.
- Learn self-soothing techniques.
- Eat and exercise well before bedtime–a few hours is best. A snack of a bit of protein (a few nuts) and a glass of warm milk or a chamomile tea, and add a bit of banana if you like is worth experimenting with if your tendency is to awaken hungry. Not too much liquid, please! We don’t want you awake, heading for the loo, and interrupting your sleep repeatedly!
- Since you have long since turned off your screens, you can switch off your modem especially if you are sensitive to EMF (Electro Magnetic Frequencies) carried by all kinds of useful tools (like computers and microwaves and phones and WiFi!) and only switch it on again in the morning. (Footnote # Klinghardt)
- Purchase a sleep measuring app or device. (I personally found sleep apps to be cheap and easily available but too inaccurate. My Oura ring deserves credit for giving me extremely precise measurements of my total sleep, quality of sleep, sleep cycles, how sleep has affected my next day’s readiness for work–or play! Nothing has worked for me like the brilliant Oura ring.)
- With the help of your chosen device/app, start to increase your awareness of sleep patterns, keep a sleep journal, raise your consciousness and your sensitivity to variations in sleep.
- And, of course, try yoga, meditation, mindfulness, soothing music, calming rituals, baths (hot or cold turn out to work!) or anything else that you find calms you and puts you into your own drowsy mode.
Step Three: Assess which Transformative Tech is in your price range and will help with raising your awareness about your personal sleep patterns. A combination of the Oura Ring (fabulous tracking tech) and Focus Band technology (to help me with my daily meditation practice which supports my improved sleep) has worked wonders for me. Stats say the Focus Band works for sleep as well as peace of mind and productivity! (last footnote)
Worth a try? You will not attain success by purchasing the tech alone—tech is only a helper! But a very good helper. You will still have to put some grunt behind applying corrections (see list above) that are suggested through receiving accurate and objective feedback from your devices.
Our Tablelands Business Summit 3.0 on 4th April 2020 will feature the Focus Band, give you a chance to ogle an Oura ring, and let you in on other options to influence your sleep as well as your business life. Then again, all of our featured devices and apps are intended not just to improve your performance (at business, sports, arts, study, whatever!) but also to lead each of us to calmer performance, lowered stress, and a positive attitude. That should work for the Business of Life as well as for your Life in Business!
Footnote #1: Mortality Associated with Short Sleep Duration: The Evidence, The Possible Mechanisms, and The Future, In Sleep Med Review, June 2010
Footnote #2: The Sleep Doctor
Footnote: Dr Walker for everything you want to know about sleep but were afraid to ask! On Audible, Amazon, your favourite online bookstores
Serious researcher into EMF. this pdf is full of useful resources for EMF reduction or mitigation. http://www.klinghardtacademy.com/images/stories/event/emf_products_%26_recipe_klinghardts_2013_10.pdf
Focus Band to check your efforts at meditation and, if you are like me, keep you amused enough to make a daily practice of meditation.