Given the choice (and the guarantee that you would not suffer any negative consequences), how many hours would you prefer to sleep each day? Five? Six? Zero? I doubt many of you would say seven or eight. Many busy entrepreneurs – especially the younger and more ambitious ones – believe that sleeping is a waste of time.
So did I. Any extra hour I could shave from sleeping each night equaled more opportunity to make profit in my mind. I tried different methods to get myself to sleep less: half-hour naps during the day, going to bed later a little bit each night but waking up at the same time, dividing sleep into two equal parts with a bit of work in between. (Not a good idea, by the way. Don’t try that at home). None of them worked.
Then, I decided to do just the opposite. On the advice of my extremely productive and efficient wife, I actually started sleeping more and my productivity has increased dramatically. (Yes, I should have just listened to my wife in the first place.)
Many an entrepreneur has stayed up late into the night working, believing they can squeeze more production out of the day. If that’s you, tell yourself these five things (or get your spouse to tell them to you so it seems more natural).
1. Morning is the most productive time of the day
If you force yourself to stay awake, you might work one or two extra hours at night, but that likely won’t be the most productive version of yourself. Although there are “evening people” – those who are most productive at the end of the day — the nature of business dictates that it’s better to be a morning person so you can be productive during regular business hours. A study from the University of Tuebingen in Germany from 2010 says people are more productive in the morning and another study from the University of Chicago from 2016 reached this same conclusion.
So, next time you want to keep yourself awake for the sake of working in the evening, simply tell yourself: “The more business savvy and productive thing to do is to sleep now and work tomorrow morning when it’s scientifically proven that I’ll get more done, anyway.”
2. Consider what the alternative to sleeping actually is
Related to the point above, you can’t even be sure that you’ll spend your non-sleeping time trying to be productive. It’s easy to say you’ll do it, but just remember how many times you said that, but ended up watching reruns on TV. Surely rest is more valuable to you than watching that Seinfeld episode for the fourth time?
3. Remember how amazing it felt the last time you woke up early, rested and full of energy
Even the worst sleepers among us wake up early, feeling rested and full of energy sometimes. Remind yourself of those days. Even better, just for the sake of making a better point to yourself, try it one time. Follow all the tips in the book and get yourself to sleep early and when you wake up, savor that morning. Get a bit of exercise and then do some productive and focused work. Then, remember that day. Each night you find yourself debating with your inner voice about going to bed or not, remember how great that whole day felt.
4. Recognize or change the best times you get actual work done
If you are a natural morning person and you get most of your work done during the start of the day, then you should obviously keep getting up early and being productive. The best way to do that is to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re not a natural morning person, then you probably feel like you are most productive when there is nobody else around at the end of the day. But, nobody else is around in the early morning, either. Instead of waiting for the end of the day when most people are not around, try getting up and starting work really early when there aren’t any people around to disturb you. You might just turn yourself into a morning person.
5. Ask yourself if all those people and studies can be wrong
There has never been so much good publicity about sleeping before, and it’s not just among the health nerds. Search for the benefits of healthy sleeping and you’ll find numerous studies that point to the benefits of sleep and recommend that you sleep longer and better. Can countless studies really be wrong? No. So why not just accept their findings and try to incorporate them into your life?
If you’re one of those people who thinks like I used to and considers sleep a time waster, remember these five things to try and trick your mind into accepting that sleep isn’t just good for you, it’s good for your business. Burning the midnight oil isn’t nearly as productive as being the early bird.