The world is much better connected today than it was twenty years ago. The internet has been a blessing in terms of communication, making the process of doing business across the globe simple. Video calling has made hosting virtual meetings with people on the other side of the planet a piece of cake. Email has made sending important documents and files as simple as pressing a button. Sending a sixty-page document to someone used to mean hours of standing by a fax machine. Now it’s just a case of receiving an email, and reading it on-screen!
We have had to make sacrifices with our personal lives to reach this point though – and especially so if we work in demanding business roles. Because you’re always reachable by email or on your mobile phone, if you’re not careful, you can reach a point of always being in ‘work mode,’ and never switching off. People are now almost expected to answer emails while they’re at home, and that’s been shown to be a drain on the morale and productivity of staff who are subjected to the expectation of always being available.
The most critical point of all with this is that the longer we spend working, the less time we spend sleeping. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s extremely bad for us. Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts your cognitive performance, and that’s been proven in scientific testing. If you’re not at peak performance, you won’t get all the work you need to do done in a day. That means working even later hours to catch up, and even less sleep. Before you know it, you’re trapped in a negative cycle.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time we broke that cycle. Switching off from the world and making the most of your night’s sleep should be part of your strategy for running a productive business, and so you can consider the advice we’re about to give you to be a business strategy!
- Put The Mobile Phone Down
The majority of us don’t go to bed with our laptop computers (and if you do, stop it immediately), but we might take a tablet or a mobile phone to bed. Your mobile phone is probably next to you on a table as you sleep, charging. If it lights up with a notification while you’re still awake, it’s tempting to check it and find out if it’s something important. It almost never is – but by the time you’ve checked it, you’ve woken yourself up.
Social media is the worst offender for this. With its pull-down-and-refresh nature, checking social media has been shown to work similarly to mobile slots games. Part of what keeps players on mobile slots websites for so long is the addictiveness of the spin, spin, spin technique that comes with the games. Refreshing your social media feed has a similar impact on your brain as spinning the reels one more time on a mobile slots game; this time, you might see something you like when the process is complete. The desire to do so will keep you awake. You can check social media (or play mobile slots on casino website like Amigo Slots, for that matter) during the evening. When you get in bed, put your phone on charge somewhere you can’t reach it. If that’s not possible, turn it face down so it can’t distract you.
- Be More Aware Of When You Eat
Some of the workaholics out there spend so much time during the day doing their jobs that they don’t make meal breaks. To balance that out, they eat a large meal late at night when they finally put the laptop down and stop working. That isn’t a great idea for your digestive system – it’s just not designed to work that way.
Once they’ve been started, the digestive processes inside your body can take hours to complete. They can also slowly release chemicals into your body, including stimulants. If you eat close to midnight, you’re probably still going to be asleep at two in the morning. It’s therefore more productive to force a meal break into your day. You’ll be more likely to rest properly later, and therefore more productive the following day.
- Don’t Get Out Of Routine
A common mistake is thinking you can just sleep whenever you find the time to fit it in, as if you were charging a mobile phone. So what if you worked all night? So long as you then sleep from 10 am until 3 pm, you probably feel like you’re repairing the damage you did by staying awake for so long! You’re not, and your body will soon let you know about it.
Your body has a routine, and it also has an internal sleep clock. Over time, you condition yourself to go to bed in or around a certain time, and to wake up in or around a certain time. When you stop doing that, you’re destroying that sleep clock. We appreciate that it might be necessary to delay bedtime once in every while if something very important comes up, but don’t make a habit of it. If your body clock is confused, you’ll find that both drifting off and waking up become difficult.
- Don’t Drift Off To The TV
We’re using televisions as the discussion point here, but this also applies to your mobile devices – and so it’s another reason not to use them! While a lot of people tell themselves that they can’t get to sleep unless they have the TV on, or a movie playing in the background for the sake of a little comforting sound, they’re wrong. They’d get to sleep a lot faster if everything was in total darkness.
Modern TV screens emit ‘blue light’ – a by-product of display devices which stops your body from producing adequate quantities of melatonin. You need melatonin to get to sleep. Every second you spend watching a screen is a second longer that you’ll spend struggling to drift off naturally. The optimum conditions for sleeping soundly are total darkness and silence.
- Don’t Fight The Process
Sometimes, you just can’t sleep. Even if you’ve followed all four steps we’ve listed above, it’s just not happening. When you can’t sleep, you start becoming frustrated with yourself. You try to force yourself to sleep, which is impossible. You start to question why you can’t get to sleep, and your mind begins to race. The longer this goes on, the further away sleep gets.
If you’ve been lying awake for an hour or so, get up and do something else. Don’t switch screens on or pick your phone up – you already know that’s a bad idea! This might be a good time to do the ironing, or read a book under a gentle light. It’ll take your mind off your sleep issue, and it will also tire you out. When you’re not trying to force sleep to happen, you’ll find it sneaks up on you quite easily.