Stop Catching Up on Sleep on the Weekends
You heard me right. How many times have you burned the midnight oil to get just a bit more work done? It's no biggie, you think to yourself. You'll catch up on sleep another day. I am guilty of doing this very same thing in the past.
From the moment we could walk, we were all taught the importance of getting 8 hours daily. But then we grew up, and reality hit us; sometimes, you don't have the luxury of sleeping for that long – especially if you're an entrepreneur.
You might have thought of sleep, like paying off debt. Ideally, you pay 8 hours every day. Every so often, you're short on your payment. Not a problem – just pay more tomorrow. But that's not exactly how sleep works.
Once you lose some sleep, the damage is done. Nothing will change if you slept 6 hours during the workweek and 10 on the weekends. Instead, you're actively making it worse by doing this. When you sleep in, your circadian rhythm – the internal clock inside you – is being disrupted. And when it's disrupted, your brain is thrown off, and you perform less well.
A study was done by Harvard University examining how students' daily routines and habits impacted them academically. They found that sleep regularity was associated with a positive increase in GPA and performance in and out of classrooms.
The all-too cliched advice of "just sleep more" feels increasingly impossible in our day and age. Luckily, there's hope. WHOOP, a fitness company focused on sleep, found that "those with greater sleep consistency averaged slightly more slow-wave and REM sleep, and had slightly less time awake, than did members with the same amount of sleep time but lower measures of consistency." Getting a certain amount of sleep is less important than getting the right type of sleep.
If you're a person who struggles with getting a good nights' sleep, we have a few suggestions for you, too. In the daytime, reduce your nap times and increase your exposure to bright, natural light. This will help to realign your circadian rhythm back to normal. As it gets closer to your sleep time, power down and remove yourself from electronics – the blue light exposure will make it harder to go back to sleep. Lastly, set a time where you stop working and stick to it. It's tempting to push just a bit further, especially when you're already in a productive frame of mind. Your sleep schedule almost always suffers as a result, though – and you end up feeling sluggish in the morning.
I know it can feel great to get a few more hours of shut-eye on your days off. However, consistency is the key here. By waking up and falling asleep at the same time every day, you end up more rejuvenated and more productive.