If there’s one experience all entrepreneurs share, it’s having to function on minimal sleep. Between managing all aspects of a company, whether it be a startup or multi-million dollar enterprise, and trying to squeeze in family time (if you’ve visited my blog before, you’ve probably noticed that fatherhood is extremely important to me), getting a solid eight or nine hours of sleep becomes increasingly difficult. If not completely impossible.
Alexandra Damsker, an NYC-based entrepreneur, recently wrote an interesting post on that very matter on Quora, which she simply titled: ‘Sleep: How do CEOs who sleep for only 4-5 hours daily manage to function and run multi-million dollar companies for years?’
As a CEO who regularly deals with the realities of running a business, including not knowing the luxury of a full night’s sleep, she reveals her most successful hacks and offers nothing but solid advice. Anyone struggling with sleep deprivation can surely benefit from her six pro tips, including:
Watch Your TV Intake
“You sleep much better, and do much more work, when you don’t watch much tv. Your brain is actually less active watching tv than when it’s sleeping. This dullness is addictive.”
Eat Less Carbohydrates
“They just make me sleepy.” It’s not just her — it’s everyone. According to a post on TODAY, there’s a very real link between eating carbohydrates and wanting to sleep. TODAY interviewed Makoto Akashi of Yamaguchi University who revealed that “if you want to be an early bird, habitual carbohydrate-rich foods at dinner might help you.” In other words, carbs can actually help you fall asleep, which can be really great… unless you’re trying to squeeze in that extra hour of work.
Cut Out Meetings
“Blah blah blah – hate just droning on, or being droned at. Nothing good comes of this.” I completely agree with this sentiment. As I wrote in a previous blog about increasing productivity, “it’s no secret that meetings behind closed doors can quickly turn into a waste of time. Whenever you need to discuss something within a group (which will inevitably happen from time to time), stay away from the temptation to sit down in a room for hours. Instead, hold a standing meeting.”
Know Your Hours
“I actually have specific hours I need to sleep to do well, not a specific number of hours. If I can sleep from 4 to 8am, I’m very happy.”
“When I get a few energy slumps, I rely on some tried and true solutions: I switch tasks to things I really like. I go outside. I email or chat with someone personal… I read the news.” For me, taking a step back, even if just for a little while, helps me unwind and reset, ensuring that when I do return to the task at hand, I have newfound energy and ideas to give it 110% and complete it.
Love Your Job
“Most important, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LOVE WHAT I DO. I love it so much! It makes me excited to wake up, to take the conference call I had today set at the incredibly ludicrous time of 6:30 am, to take calls and go to meetings while visiting family, to get over shyness and speak to the stranger next to me on the airplane, to spend the evening playing with my daughter knowing that I’ll be working on a document until 4 am and begging Kinko’s for something.”
That last one is especially important. No matter what field you’re in, how big your company is, how many hours a day you work or anything else, the one fact that always rings true is that you need to love what you do. Also, you deserve to love what you do. It’s the only way your business will truly be able to flourish.
Why? The truth is, if you’re not passionate about your project, you won’t devote yourself to it wholeheartedly. And if you don’t do that, well, how can you ever expect employees, customers or anyone else to stand behind you and your brand wholeheartedly?
Plus, it’s that love for and devotion to your company that will make you forget about the hardships and make all the sleepless nights totally worthwhile.