Why Burning the Candle at Both Ends is Bad for Business by Martha Lewis
You wake up with your alarm blaring next to your head. All you want to do is go back to sleep since you went to bed late and didn’t sleep well. But you think of everything you have to do and so, you push yourself out of bed, stumble to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and start your day in an exhausted daze.
Many entrepreneurs see burning the candle at both ends as a necessary part of being successful. One of the hardest parts about working for yourself is that your to-do list never ends. You’re the boss and so, you hold yourself accountable. Plus, your family and your business and your life all depend on your success. You need to be successful now, not tomorrow. So you keep going, keep putting in the hours, and keep going to bed late and waking up early to get it all done.
What if working all hours of the day and night leads not to success, but to burnout, to quitting, to depression, to a life you’ll regret later on?
As a sleep consultant, I want to talk about why getting the sleep you need is critical to your success. I know how easy it is for entrepreneurs to get sucked into the mentality that you have to work sooooo hard to succeed. That you have to burn the candle at both ends and sacrifice sleep to make it in business. Sure, there may be times when you have to put in extra hours for a deadline or a launch. But if that’s your status quo all the time, then you may be sabotaging your success.
What if there’s another way to be successful?
How Good Sleep Can Help You Succeed
Here are three reasons why getting a good night’s sleep can help you achieve the success you want:
1. You’ll Make Better Decisions
People who sleep 5 hours a night are more likely to make riskier decisions than those who sleep 8 hours a night, according to a recent study. Twice a day, participants were asked to choose between receiving a certain amount of money or gambling the money for a higher amount with the possibility of losing it all. “At the start, less sleep didn’t influence the participants’ decisions, but as the sleep-deprived nights added up, more and more of them took the bigger risk.” Even more interesting is that they didn’t see any difference in their decision making as they got more and more sleep-deprived. So they didn’t perceive that they were taking bigger risks even though they were.
2. It’s Easier to Learn New Tasks
As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly learning how to do new things. From marketing to selling to networking, you’re doing it all, especially in the beginning. Being able to easily learn new tasks is crucial to being successful.
But a lack of sleep makes it harder to learn and solve problems. As an example, one study found that trying to learn a new software program at work has been proven to be up to three times more difficult when a person is not well-rested.
Getting the sleep you need will actually make learning new things easier and will save you precious time.
3. You Can Solve Problems and Be More Creative
Entrepreneurs need to be able to look at problems and situations from a fresh perspective. In other words, you need to be creative and innovative to solve problems in your business.
During non-REM sleep, or deep sleep, your brain transfers newly learned information into long-term storage sites. In REM, also known as dream sleep, those new memories are catalogued and linked to seemingly unrelated pieces of information. This function of REM sleep allows your mind to make connections and come up with new solutions to our problems.
So instead of staying up late to keep trying to solve a problem, I suggest going to sleep instead. Let your brain do the work for you while you get to refresh yourself. In the morning, you may have the answer waiting for you. As John Steinbeck wisely wrote in Sweet Thursday, “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
When you get the sleep you need, you make better decisions for your business, you’re better able to learn new tasks, and you can solve problems and be more creative.
How to Get the Sleep You Need
First of all, make sleep a priority. Try a 30-day challenge, where you commit to going to bed on time and allowing for 7-8 hours of sleep for 30 days. Know that the first 10 days will be tough and then it will get easier after that. After 30 days, you can see the impact that getting sleep had on your work and productivity and you’ll be more motivated to continue.
Secondly, manage your stress during the day by taking breaks, spending time in nature, and doing relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. If you’re constantly stressed and your stress hormone levels are always high, your body won’t be able to produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep easily and stay asleep all night.
If you have trouble sleeping, there could be something going on in your body that is keeping you awake at night. Grab a copy of the “What’s Causing Your Insomnia” checklist at https://www.thecompletesleepsolution.com to find out what could be sabotaging your sleep.
Arianna Huffington passionately writes in The Sleep Revolution, sleep “gives us strength, energy, power, and creativity. It makes us happier, less anxious, more productive, and more able to handle the everyday stress of our lives.” I’m sure she would agree with me that a good night’s sleep is the best thing for your business after all.