It’s 2am. Do You Really Need to be Working?

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Why late nights aren’t good for you or your business

What’s the difference if I stay up a few nights a week working on my business? I’ll catch up on the sleep.
I have to get this email done!
My website is a mess, I won’t sleep until I fix it.
I need to review this file so I can get caught up.
I’ll just add up my expenses and send some invoices.  

Sound familiar? If you own your own business then I’m sure it does.  You could be a health pro, tech developer or a communications specialist like me and you’ll hear yourself saying these things from time to time. But don’t and here’s why.

Sleeping is important? Who knew!

I always thought I could catch up on sleep and it wouldn’t matter. Or even better – I was tough enough to go without sleep and didn’t EVER catch up on it. Naps? Pish – for the weak. It took developing self induced insomnia, turning in to a rather crabby individual and gaining 25lbs before I realized what my wonky sleep habits (over the past 3 years) were doing to my health and mental well being.

Sleep is the time where your body and your brain both recoup from whatever life has thrown at you that day. Following the circadian cycle, you spend the first 5 hours repairing physically and then you move in to mental reparation for the last 3. Yep – they aren’t kidding about needing 8 hours. Your body and mind are missing key benefits when you decide that a quick 4 or 5 is all you need.

Why is this important for your business?

There are many reasons that sleep is imperative to your business and one of the best investments you can make for business success. Here are a few of the top reasons that working at 2am isn’t do you or your business any favors:

  1. Accuracy – when you become sleep deprived, you are now impairing your ability to be accurate. This could impact spelling or message development (not great for someone in communications), accounting (not great for anyone) or developing a treatment plan for a patient. “Why did I recommend that?” is not something a patient wants to hear. Mistakes can cost you business!
  2. Perception – if you are trying to process information for a required course or are looking to engage in an online discussion to build your expertise, your perception and subsequent response can vary greatly depending if you are running on a full 8 hours. Either way, your business needs you to be able to complete any education required and you don’t want to be ticking off colleagues by going off on a rant because you saw information the wrong way.
  3. Decision making – we’ll use the grocery story as an example here. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone grocery shopping or even to lunch with a raging empty stomach. How did that work out? Did you make a great decision or did that Big Mac look awfully appealing to your sleep fuzzed eyeballs? Making decisions about patients’ health or your business can be disastrous if you are running on low sleep. You need to be clear headed to give the best advice possible to patients and to say know when you business partner wants to invest in the next Thigh Master.
  4. Overall Health – being in business is stressful. Now that isn’t news to anyone but did you know that sleep deprivation can cause strokes, heart attacks, gastrointestinal issues (or it could be that Big Mac haunting you), excessive cortisol production, mania and the flu. Yep. Your immune system gets tanked when you don’t sleep properly leaving you open to every germ or bacteria your patients bring in to see you about. Can you afford to be sick? Me either.

So what can you do to make sure you get the best nights sleep possible? Glad you asked!

  1. Write it down – one of the chief reasons we continue working until late in the night is we’re afraid we’ll forget to get it done. Or even better – we think the list is far to long to be manageable during the date. Wrong. Take the time to write down what you need to get done and then prioritize. Better yet, if possible, delegate. Your brain will be able to rest knowing that you’ve captured those top of mind tasks.
  2. Turn Off the Lights – remember a time when people used pen and paper? You still can! Why? Because writing it down is not only a good way to kinesthetically engage with the action and create a better memory BUT by turning off the phones, laptops and tablets, you allow your brain to make the melatonin you need to sleep. When you stare at that lovely light right before bed, your brain gets confused because it perceives the light as daylight. And shouldn’t you be up during the daylight? Not great for a good night’s sleep.
  3. Caffeine. Kick it real good. – Yup. I used to love it too. And right before bed as well with a steaming mug of tea and some cookies and ahhhhhh … so nice. BUT adding caffeine and sugar to your blood stream right before bed means that in about 30 minutes you’ll be wide starting to come out of the REM you were supposed to be heading towards and waking back up. Examine whether it’s the caffeine you need or the ritual of making yourself a nice warm cup of something. If that’s the case, try chamomile or another caffeine free warm drink to end your day.

I’ll end this post by confessing that I’m in full fix the sleep mode so this might not be the last post about getting some good zzz’s. Do you have some tricks that help you kick those sheep to the curb? Share!

 

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