Sleep can evade business owners who don’t know how to switch off at night. Here are five quick tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.
As well as for your own health, wellbeing and general comfort, sleep is important to help you keep your business running at its optimal level.
“When I look at a small business leader, they are much closer to the action in terms of what they do, and so much comes back to them, the buck stops with them, and so if they are not in a good space, then it is very difficult to help the rest of their team to be there as well,” notes Stuart Taylor, founder of The Resilience Institute in Australia.
With that in mind, here are five tips to help you get better sleep after a long day’s work:
1. Write it down
The simple act of writing down what’s on your mind can often help you relax enough to get some good shut-eye.
“I [tell myself] ‘I'll save it for the next day’. That's my motto. I do lots of to-do lists, and they're always written on my hand. There's something on there right now,” says Becky Dyer, founder of BB Pilates + Physio.
“My lists keep me sane. If I put it on the list, then I've put it to bed, and I can go to bed.”
Yes, it’s that much-hyped activity that we all put off during busy times. But consider that making time to exercise is an investment in both your long-term physical and mental health, as well as a means of reducing fatigue and boosting your productivity levels.
“Regular daily exercise helps to burn off stress and promotes better-quality sleep,” says Dr Jenny Brockis, a medical practitioner and author specialising in brain health and performance.
“Thirty minutes of ‘huff ’n’ puff’, either before work or during the day, is ideal.”
However, she cautions against exercising close to bedtime, as this will actually keep you awake longer.
3. Stick to a routine
This one is easier said than done, of course, but it’s important to keep on top of your schedule rather than let your schedule control you.
If you find yourself feeling swamped, exhausted and either unable to sleep or not getting enough of it, then it’s time to sit down and work out a plan for how to improve your situation – whether that involves outsourcing or delegating some projects, managing your time better, hiring additional staff or some other means.
“Earlier on in this year, things were pretty intense and I did have to really say to myself ‘I have to actually balance this properly’,” explains Lauren Chang Sommer, founder of Moi Moi Fine Jewellery and Moissanite International.
“I could easily work every second of every day. I did make a decision to really switch off on my days off and that actually helps me to be more productive. If I'm constantly working all the time, I start to get a little bit intense, a little bit of anxiety, and maybe just not so focused.
“I actually have set a time to go to sleep at night, because otherwise I can just keep working.”
4. Know your body clock
Generally speaking our energy comes in cycles throughout the day, so it makes sense to do your most difficult tasks when you have the most energy, and go to bed when your energy is waning.
“There's a great theory out there that [in the morning] you create your business; [in the afternoon] you manage your business,” explains sales trainer Tom Panos.
“It monitors your energy levels. That works for me, being someone that is more a morning person.”
Tom says he structures his day with this point in mind, so that he is awake and performing at his peak time and in bed when his energy levels are at their lowest.
“My average day starts at 4:30 in the morning … 9:30[pm], I’m asleep.”
5. Quiet time before bed
There is scientific evidence that staring at a TV, computer or mobile screen right before bed detracts from your ability to go to sleep.
Falling into a lazy snooze on the couch watching telly may seem like an easy way of drifting off at the end of the day, but making a habit of this will trick your body into thinking that the couch, not your bed, is your place of rest.
And needless to say, working on the computer until you drop is also counter-productive when it comes to good sleep, as you are effectively asking your brain to switch off completely in an instant.
Instead, try turning off all your devices at least half an hour before bed, and instead read a (relaxing) book, listen to some gentle music or chat with your partner to drift off in a calm, happy state of mind.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.