This post is cross-posted at Routeam.com.
I had an intern recently that was a real go-getter. The intern had a very impressive resume inside and outside of work, including managing an organization in their spare time. Another employee asked this person where they got all of the time to do all of that. “I don’t sleep a lot,” the intern said.
This person actually turned out, much to my surprise, to be one of the team’s lowest performers during the time that they worked for me. I keep thinking about that comment, and I can’t help but wonder if that may have been a warning sign. It may have indicated a lack of balance and foresight within that person that led to their performance issues.
Personally, I have never in my life sacrificed sleep for work, whether it was college, graduate school, or my professional career. Like skipping meals, I’ve noticed that I cannot perform as highly as I am capable unless I take care of these basic needs first. So, to help you do the same, I have five tips that I use to ensure that I sleep well and, as a result, work better.
Use the Sleep Cycle app for iPhone and iPod Touch. Have you ever had the feeling where you woke up in the morning wide awake and ready to take on the world? Wouldn’t it be great to wake up that way every morning? Well I do, and you can too, using this awesome app by Maciek Drejak Labs. Sleep Cycle times your morning alarm so that you wake up when your body is not in REM, which prevents you from waking with that “OMG FML” feeling. You know the one.
Reduce emotional stress. If you’re staying up at night thinking a lot about personal issues, try talking about them out loud, verbally before sleeping. Call someone you trust, or just speak to your pillow. Verbalizing problems does wonders for your mind’s ability to settle itself and sleep effectively.
Get a sleep routine. This tricks your body into thinking it’s tired. When I know it’s time to sleep, I immediately go into my “sleep routine,” which includes brushing my teeth, changing, turning the lights out, putting my birds to sleep, and pulling out my iPad. Ceteris peribus, by the time I’m done and the lights are off, within 10-15 minutes my eye lids start to close, even if I didn’t feel tired at all before I started the routine.
Eat appropriately. If you know me, this means eating Paleo. Avoid eating refined sugars, grains, and other things your body doesn’t like, as it will throw off your natural body clock.
Exercise. Easy way to get yourself tired, no? Plus, the healthier and more fit you are, the less sleep you need. I typically only need 6 hours per night to have boundless energy throughout the day.