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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

December 13, 2013

Sleep mask

The foundation of your business starts with sleep. That’s counter-intuitive for a lot of people, who cut sleep short in order to have more hours to spend working. However, studies have shown time spent sleeping, much like time spent in meditation or doing exercise, makes the time you do spend working more efficient.

We all know this, but most of us still fight it. And you can fight it for a little while, just like you can drive a car with a flat tire, but you won’t be able to do it for too long.

So if you’re interested in getting more and better sleep, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful…

10 Tips for Better Sleep

The Room – In feng shui, the bedroom is for two things — sleeping and sex.

You have a bedroom so you can sleep (or have sex) and both of those occur on a bed…or sometimes a hot tub, or maybe a pool table, or a shower. Regardless, do your other business, exercise, and anything else somewhere other than your bedroom.

Have a Ritual – If you go to church, you put on a certain uniform. If you go to work, you put on a certain uniform. Doing this gets you in the mood, even before you get inside the building.

The same concept works for sleep. Having a ritual before bed, or even a uniform that you wear, such as pajamas, will help you to fall asleep more quickly.

Keep a Schedule – If anybody knows about a crazy schedule, it’s me. The music business is full of crazy schedules, where it’s not uncommon for artists to perform until 3am (or later) only to turn around and do a 6am interview on morning radio.

Many entrepreneurs keep a similarly erratic schedule, especially those who work from home and don’t have to interact with the “real world.” For example, I have a friend who used to stay up two days in a row working and would only sleep every other night.

My friend ended up in the hospital. And even if you don’t take things that far, doing something similar will age you.

The solution is to schedule when you go to bed and wake up at relatively the same time each night. Personally, I hit the bed at 10:30pm every night and wake up at 7am. It doesn’t really matter what time you go to bed or what time you wake up, as long as you get enough sleep and can follow other common sense rules, such as your sleep time being uninterrupted by other people or obligations.

Keep It Dark – Sleeping in darkness helps produce melatonin, which is an antioxidant hormone that has many benefits, including anti-aging properties. Any light exposure, even small amounts, such as light coming in through curtains, can interrupt melatonin production and negatively affect sleep.

The solution? A sleep mask (which works well as part of a uniform/ritual) or blackout shades.

Keep It Quiet – No music. No television. No white noise or other gimmicks.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol – Ever wonder why alcoholics wake up so early? Because alcohol interferes with deep sleep.

No Electronics – Again, the primary purpose of a bedroom is for sleep. This means no electronic devices, such as televisions, and no outside communication devices, such as phones or computers.

Beyond that, you may want to limit your use of electronics before sleep. Or try software, such as Flux, which automatically changes the brightness of your computer’s screen, depending on time of day.

Trust the Alarm – If you want a good night of sleep, you have to trust that your alarm is going to wake you when it’s time for you to get up. If you don’t trust your alarm, do what morning radio hosts have done for years — get both a battery operated alarm and one that winds up.

If You Get Up… – If you get up in the middle of the night, don’t turn on the lights. Also, don’t check what time it is or do anything that will stimulate your brain or make it harder for you to fall asleep again.

Write It Down – If you’re a creative person, you may find some of your best ideas come to you while you’re in bed. Alternatively, if you’re a worrier, you may think of a lot of things you’re worried about… Regardless, the best method I’ve found for dealing with either is to have a pen and pad next to the bed, where I can write down my idea or “to-do” item. This lets me deal with these thoughts in the morning, after a good night of sleep, rather than letting them interrupt my sleeping schedule.

Sweet dreams!

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.