Want to Become a Better Entrepreneur? Get Some Sleep.

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getty_103638181_9707279704500152_66103For entrepreneurs, sleep deprivation is an unfortunate fact of life: when you’re responsible for a company, you often work round the clock. And when your success and your financial well-being are riding on how well that company does under your management you might lie awake at night worrying or mulling over your next strategic move.

Sleep deprivation is bad, we all know that. When I'm tired I'm not creative, attentive, or focused–I can even fall into a funk (not so good for productivity). As if that's not bad enough, scientific studies show that there’s one more negative side effect to sleep deprivation: memory loss.

Researchers from Northwestern University and Uppsala University in Sweden have found that when people don’t get enough sleep, they start to forget things. When sleep and stress go hand in hand, Northwestern’s Jonathan Cedernaes found, it negatively affects cognitive function.

Cedernaes's studies concluded that when you’re both tired and stressed out, a condition many of us are far too familiar with, your brain is less capable of accessing the knowledge that you’ve got stored away and you rely mainly on muscle memory.

What does this mean for an entrepreneur?

It means that, if you want to be on top of what is going on in your company, you need to get some sleep. You spend your working hours juggling pieces of information, and many of them are crucial to your company’s success. To forget the wrong thing at the wrong time could be a disaster.

Here’s how you can fight back against stress, sleep deprivation, and forgetfulness:

  • Recognize the value of a good night’s sleep and schedule your life accordingly! Keep commitments minimal on weekday evenings.
  • Get your body ready for sleep by turning off screens. Yes, that means stop looking at your phone, not minutes, but a few hours before you go to bed.
  • Minimize your caffeine intake in the afternoons and evenings–just a minimal reduction can make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.
  • Establish a morning routine that makes getting out of bed easy and painless.
  • Recognize that everyone needs sleep and strive for a workplace culture in which people are encouraged to come to work rested, ready to do their best. If your team is exhausted and stressed from working too hard the night before long, those long hours will backfire on you.
  • If you’re really serious about getting enough sleep set up a nap room in your office! A thirty-minute nap will pay for itself ten-fold!

I feel a nap coming on myself!

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