I love sleeping but I also hate it. I don’t know exactly how to diagnose myself but I have this type of anxiety that forces me to satisfy my curiosity when I have an idea. I think it’s a good thing for the most part, but can definitely become a detriment to my health when it constantly interrupts my sleep.
I get ideas all the time but don’t seem to know how to control or organize them. At first, it seems kind of odd that so many entrepreneurs talk about time management, sleep habits, and motivation. But I think that right now those are the only things I really worry about.
Interruptions before Sleep
I will sometimes finish up my tasks for the day and get ready to call it quits. Sleep begins to make my eyes water and I decide to close all the browser tabs, exit out of the several excel windows I have open, and turn the ole computer off.
I go in to check on my kids, get washed up, and lay down. Then it’s almost like my mind is just trying to piss me off because a rush of good ideas streams into my brain. All of a sudden I’m like, “Wait, why was I spending that much time writing that article, I could easily outsource that.” then my mind jumps to “Ok, well HOW can I outsource it?” I then start visualizing searching for outsourcing sites and I can actually see myself typing out the job proposal.
This compounds several times as my mind jumps to several other scenarios. I wish I had a recorder for my brain because if I just had those ideas during my working time, I would be super efficient. I then glance over at my watch only to realize that 2 hours have passed and I am not sleepy at all.
Sometimes I have to get up and turn the computer back on and just work through the night. No other option seems to be available.
Making Sleep a Priority
So now you see my dilemma but I also want to tell you how I have somewhat been able to remedy it. The first step is always realizing you have a problem. I didn’t think I had a problem at first because I always made great progress on my projects.
It was when I realized that I would instantly fall asleep during the day if I just closed my eyes for a minute. Or when I would have random loss of memory or a super difficulty with concentrating for hours. I realized that I was experiencing sleep deprivation.
I would check my trusty miband and it showed me I was getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night (1.5 hours of deep sleep). Oh no, I need to make sleep more important.
So I decided that I would make sleep a priority. I remember that when I was raising my kids I had to make conditions right in order for them to fall asleep. Apparently it’s not natural to fall asleep on your own.
Step 1 – no more screens for up to an hour before desired sleep time. I am not sure this really works in terms of the light making me not sleepy but it helped with not allowing my mind to be very curious and latch onto ideas.
Step 2 – have gotten some exercise during the day. My goal with this was simple, just sweat once per day. Easiest exercise plan ever. This really works well.
Step 3 – listen to a mildly boring podcast or audiobook. I love listening to business podcasts but they always give me tons of ideas and are anti-helpful with sleeping. Also, if it’s a super fun and interesting podcast, then I will want to try and keep listening to it. I find politics and financial news to be a little boring so I usually go with that.
Step 4 – get the right mattress. I currently have a small latex mattress that is quite firm but soft enough. It is almost like a mattress topper because its only like 4 inches thick. I find that super comfy big beds are harder to fall asleep quickly on… I have no idea why.
Step 5 – pretend to sleep. The ole fake it till to make it thing can be used here. I learned this when I would lay down with my kids to help them go to sleep I would pretend to sleep. Turns out I would instead actually fall asleep. I think this is like a variation of the counting sheep thing.
What I Learned from Getting Enough Sleep
So, now it has been a few months since I did the steps above and have been getting a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. I am more productive and all that but the best thing is that I am able to channel my good ideas to come when I want them to.
It’s still not exact and some ideas come in at night and I go back to the old routine every now and then. But I have found that a little more sleep the next night gets me right back into the routine.
I realize now that working smarter instead of harder has a lot to do with sleep. For some reason, we sleep to recharge our bodies. I don’t know why but it’s best to keep that balance instead of fighting it.