IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS AND PERFORMANCE BY IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF SLEEP
Your sleep is among the most vital elements of your success: in business, in career, in family.
Often, I hear the successful examples of famous people and their sleeping habits.
One common pattern that I found is “sleepless, work more, and hustle.”
According to an American poll conducted in 2009 where sleep patterns were analysed, it showed that the number of people getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep a night had risen from 12% in 1998 to 20% in 2009.
Several years ago, I met a successful woman. She is a serial entrepreneur and the board member of several growing businesses.
I asked her: “can you share with me the abilities and skills that made you so successful?”
The lady answered: “Neo, it’s very simple: I just sleep well every night.”
Many executives and entrepreneurs suffer from lack of performance. I’ve been there too.
The simple solution to improve your daily performance is to have a proper sleep at night.
After reading this article you will:
- Understand what is the main cause of sleep deprivation;
- Have methods and tools how to improve your sleep quality;
- Design a proper plan for your own sleeping habit.
At the end of the article there is a section for your comments, so please share your insights how you deal with sleeping deprivation.
15 ELEMENTS THAT CAUSE YOUR SLEEP DEPRIVATION:
Before you get to the point of improving your sleeping quality, it might be useful to know what can cause inability to sleep.
Below I present a list of different sleep disturbances that I was able to find, so be sure you reflect what might be a relevant cause or trigger for you.
1. Medication – Medications such as antihistamines and cough medicines can cause trouble with your sleep patterns. Some can actually induce sleep but generally, you will wake groggy and unproductive.
2. Caffeine – It is best to avoid any caffeinated beverages and/or foods at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. The binding of adenosine causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity and when caffeine is present in the body the cells cannot sense adenosine because caffeine is taking up all the receptors that it would normally bind to.
3. Alcohol – Much like the medications, alcohol initially can induce sleep but it is not a deep, restful sleep. Most times you will wake up often after consuming alcohol.
4. Restless Leg Syndrome – This is an involuntary jerking, moving of the legs during the night while sleeping, or at least trying to, which can disturb not only the person who has it but also their partners!
5. Female Issues – Things like pregnancy, PMS and menopause can all wreak havoc on a women’s sleep. All of these are associated with major hormone fluctuations which bring on symptoms such as various types and levels of pain, heartburn, hot flushes and so forth, which can make sleeping a very difficult task.
6. Thyroid Deficiency – An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can cause sleep problems. The disorder overstimulates the nervous system, making it hard to fall asleep, and it may cause night sweats, leading to nighttime arousals. Feeling cold and sleepy is a hallmark of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
7. Chronic Pain – If you suffer from chronic pain it can be very difficult to get to sleep and then also to stay asleep for the full 7-8 hours that you may need. Most times you are also needing chronic medication to manage the pain which can also cause problems with your sleep habits.
8. Undertreated or Untreated Mental Disorders – These can be anything from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to anxiety issues. It is pretty obvious that if you have OCD you are going to probably also induce anxiousness within you and therefore a lot of sleep deprivation as the brain tries to deal with the anxiety and worry. This article about how your body clock can affect your mood has some very interesting insight and you may find some solutions herein.
9. Chronic Gastrointestinal Issues – Reflux, heartburn, even irritable bowel syndrome can be a big cause of sleep deprivation as these can cause intense pain and just general discomfort.
10. Male Issues – Benign prostatic hypertrophy, a disorder which causes an enlargement of the prostate gland which can then put pressure on the urethra which in turn means frequent need for trips to the bathroom.
11. Snoring – Probably one of the most common issues facing most people. If you or your partner or even both for that matter snore, then you can be sure that there will be some level of sleep deprivation as it can not only cause you to wake up frequently but will probably also mean your partner is woken up regularly too.
12. Sleep Apnea – This is a rather serious disorder as a person with sleep apnea basically stops breathing for a few seconds at a time and this can sometimes happen frequently through the night. This type of stopping and starting to breathe will definitely cause a sleep disturbance.
13. Shift Work – Those individuals who work shifts have a very difficult time creating a regular sleep routine and therefore a good sleep pattern. Most times these individuals are working very long hours through the night.
14. Stressful Events – Events such as the death of a loved one or a divorce can trigger anxiety, stress, sadness, things that can also cause problems with your sleep patterns and inevitably result in sleep deprivation.
15. Jetlag – The well-travelled are also sometimes the ‘well sleep deprived’. Jet lag occurs when one flies often and crosses time zones and so forth it can throw out the bodies natural rhythm, disrupt the natural clock, and once again this can make it difficult to adjust and for the body to recognize when it is supposed to sleep and when it is supposed to be awake.
These are the sources we were able to find during our research. If you experience a different source of sleep deprivation – please add to the comments below the article.
It’s not only the sleep deprivation that causes stress in business.
12 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR QUALITY OF SLEEP
1. START WITH YOUR MINDSET: SLEEPING IS A NECESSITY, NOT A LUXURY
Sometimes this is a very difficult thing for us to grasp, the fact that we actually need to have sleep. We have got to get solid, quality sleep in order to function efficiently in our day to day lives.
But more than this is the fact that too little sleep (in adults this would be anything less than 7 hours) can bring about things like brain fog, underproductivity in the workplace as well as things like gaining weight and being more susceptible to being overweight.
Good quality sleep is vital for all sorts of biological functions within our bodies and our brains. Therefore, think of it like when you drink water, you know you need water to live, so to do you need sleep to live.
2. USE CURTAINS, DARKNESS IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR SLEEP
When a room is dark and comfortable it is definitely more appealing and therefore will induce a more relaxed feeling.
Dark, heavy curtains which block out most of the light in your room will help to trigger melatonin which is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland which tells the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
There are many sleep aids available which can have the same effect, but why not forego the medicinal side of things and just put up some really nice window coverings instead.
3. DON’T DRINK CAFFEINE CONTAINING LIQUIDS AT LEAST SIX HOURS BEFORE SLEEP
As mentioned previously caffeine can have a very adverse effect on the central nervous system and this can cause havoc when trying to get that good, deep, quality sleep you are after.
The best option is to ensure you do not drink any caffeinated beverages within 6 hours of going to sleep.
Instead, why not try some chamomile tea or a warm glass of milk with some honey in. These drinks are both comforting and can actually assist your body in relaxing and calming down in order to induce a really good night sleep.
4. TAKE A TABLESPOON OF HONEY BEFORE SLEEP
When taken before bedtime, honey: a) ensures adequate liver glycogen stores for eight hours of sleep (this limits the early morning release of two stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline); b) stabilizes blood sugar levels; and c) contributes to the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
5. BALANCE YOUR EMOTIONS RIGHT BEFORE YOU GO SLEEP
Carrying emotional baggage, such as any negative or positive thoughts, can be detrimental to getting a good nights rest. The negative emotion holds you back, while positive emotion occupies your mind and makes you vulnerable.
There have been times when you felt distracted by some challenging event that occurred the same day. There is a saying: morning is smarter than evening.
Yes, it is. Because you calm down while you are asleep and your emotions are gone when you wake up the next day.
The good news is that you can neutralize your emotions even before, so you can fall asleep without worries.
Identify what was the biggest challenge of today and neutralize it by writing 10 to 20 benefits to yourself: how this ”challenge” positively affected you today.
The intention of this exercise is not to convert you into a positive thinker.
The intention is to neutralize any conscious or unconscious worry before you fall asleep.
Once you have been able to achieve this neutrality you are sure to find a more peaceful sleep will come.
This will link to the next point – Write a Gratitude Journal!
6. WRITE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Writing gratitude helps you to focus on what you love.
When you focus on what you love, your brain works better, you are more coordinated, and you feel better.
The gratitude practice helps you to lessen the activity of your limbic part of your brain. The limbic system is involved in setting a person’s emotional tone. When this area is less active, people tend to be more positive and hopeful.
Jim Rohn said, “A life worth living is a life worth recording.”
Many successful people believe fully in practising gratitude as part of their bedtime and morning rituals. Oprah Winfrey for one is a huge advocate and has been known to say that she writes in her gratitude journal on a regular basis.
To get the thoughts out of one’s heads and onto paper will definitely help make a more peaceful transition into sleep, and a more restful one at that.
Arianna Huffington has written a book called “The Sleep Revolution – Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time” and in this book, she has touched on the fact that people’s dismissal of sleep and their mindset that it is a ‘waste of time’ is causing a ‘sleep deprivation crisis.’
She also has a strong belief that gratitude, giving thanks, can have a profound effect on the human psyche.
Writing in the gratitude journal any time of the day is good but I think making it part of your nighttime routine is a great way to go.
7. KNOW YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
In an article from The Sleep Foundation, the discuss the circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.
Now what is pivotal in the article is that we should get to know what our rhythm is as it can differ from you to me.
The times you feel more drowsy through the day can depend on whether you are a morning person or a night owl, and also if you have good sleep every night you probably won’t feel the different dips through the day as much.
So, the best way to get a good sleep/wake cycle going is to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up the same time every morning.
8. TRY GETTING SLEEP BETWEEN 10 PM AND 2 AM
Plenty research has been done into why sleep between 10pm and 2am is so important and what they have come up with is that between those times we experience the deepest, most restorative sleep.
This article from Yogi Mir speaks of this as well as other methods to help you tap into this crucial sleep time.
It is also noted that melatonin, the hormone mentioned before, is at its highest at this point and therefore it is probably best practice to be asleep by this time to take full advantage.
Getting quality sleep during these times can assist in ensuring you do not wake up in the night or at least if you do you will not struggle to fall back to sleep.
The studies are also being done now to figure out how much affect the melatonin and getting good sleep between 10pm and 2am can help fight off free radicals.
9. LIMIT THE BLUE LIGHT – USE THE APP F.LUX
Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted studies around the effect of blue light on the production of melatonin levels and the findings were astounding.
They compared the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light for the same period of time. During the exposure to the blue light melatonin levels were suppressed for twice as long and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much.
So in essence, because our nights are generally illuminated in some way, it would be beneficial to limit exposure to blue light wherever possible when getting ready to go to sleep.
If your computer is keeping you up at night you may want to try out this F.Lux app which will make the colour of your computer screen adapt to different times and different light throughout the day.
Here you can watch a review video on F.Lux
10. FLIGHT MODE ON YOUR PHONE ONE HOUR BEFORE YOU GO SLEEP AND ONE HOUR AFTER YOU WAKE UP
This is something I am sure is not an easy task for any of us, especially in this technology-driven world of ours today.
The truth is that participating in any activity where you are on your phone, computer, laptop and so forth straight before you go to sleep you are going to not only have trouble falling asleep but you will most likely not have a restful sleep either.
If you switch your phone off, or at the very least onto flight mode, an hour before you go to sleep at night it will give your body and mind time to unwind and switch off, as it were.
If you wake up and continue to leave the phone switched off or on flight mode for about an hour, you will also start your day in a less stressful way which will translate into a better, more productive day ahead.
11. PREPARE FOR SLEEP: REST, RELAX MEDITATE
It is important to consciously prepare yourself for sleep, this would lead back to the idea that sleep is a necessity and not a luxury.
When night time comes and you are getting ready for bed, consciously relax your mind, and then imagine every part of your body relaxing, all the muscles releasing the tension of the day.
If you perhaps struggle to get yourself into this state of relaxation here are a few videos which may assist in this transition.
12. WHEN YOU WAK UP FOCUS ON THE MORNING RITUAL
In a previous article I spoke about having a morning routine, or rather a morning ritual and how the most successful businessmen and women all have this one thing in common.
So, instead of waking up and straight away checking your phone and so forth rather do things like meditate, go for a brisk walk or do some form of exercise.
Some people prefer to stretch and do some yoga to calm and focus their mind on the day ahead.
Another part of the morning ritual could be affirmations you tell yourself to start the day and then indulging in a heart and brain healthy breakfast.
Whatever your morning ritual looks like, stick to it. After having a wonderful, quality nights sleep and then completing your incredible, mind clearing, focused morning ritual, the day can only be one full of opportunity!
You may also find some of these videos useful when looking for life hacks to get a better, more quality nights sleep.
HOW UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT GAIN IS LINKED TO BAD SLEEPING HABITS
Have you ever thought to yourself, “These cravings for sweet things need to come to an end”? Or, “I have no willpower”?
Well, it may seem that those cravings for cookies and cake are not really a sign of mental weakness as we may have previously thought.
In this article, the link between sleep deprivation and how it can affect your weight is explored quite in depth.
Now you may wonder, “How does this pertain to me, the executive, CEO, entrepreneur?” Well if you are not sleeping well and filling yourself with refined sugar to keep you going all day then you can be sure you are not going to be as productive as you need to be to run your business, your empire!
So, how does sleep deprivation cause weight gain? It all comes down to hormones.
When studies were conducted at the University of Chicago the researchers found that men who slept only four hours a night were more likely to overindulge in cookies, cakes and fizzy drinks the following day.
They found that the hormones which tell your brain when you are hungry and when you are full, namely Ghrelin and Leptin, were not working optimally and therefore the men would over-indulge as their brain was not signalled when they were full.
In short, getting enough sleep is imperative to overall health and well-being, keeping the body in shape as well as the mind sharp and active.
The sleep topic becomes vital in our fast-moving society.
The world of unlimited opportunities brought us a very significant challenge: 24 hours are not enough in our day!
We want to achieve more in less time.
It’s possible, but don’t sacrifice your most precious time – your sleeping time.
In this article, we presented the main causes of sleep deprivation and multiple ways how you can fight with it.
If you like this article, please share with your community.
I hope this helps!