We’ve all read the stories – that high-performing individuals, from politicians to pop stars to business moguls, all survive on four hours sleep or less per night to accomplish their goals. But what are the long-term consequences? From accelerated ageing to stress-related illness and shortening both your health and lifespan, skipping sleep has a serious knock on effect on your health. So, how do you get enough quality sleep when you’re busy?
Why Sleep is so Important
Good, quality sleep is a vital component of great health. Scientists suggest we all aim for eight hours of quality rest per night, and there are numerous studies which have concluded not enough sleep causes a variety of negative issues. This is because sleep is when the body goes into reparative mode and carries out essential maintenance work on cells all over the body, clearing out toxins and taking care of repair and regeneration in the body.
In the short-term, lack of sleep results on poor cognitive function, exhaustion, weight gain, irritability, unhealthy skin and an overall lack of vitality. Long-term, lack of sleep can cause mental and physical health issues, plus accelerated ageing inside and out.
Reasons that Busy Professionals Struggle to Get Enough Sleep
One of the major reasons professionals tend to wrestle with sleep deprivation is lying awake at night thinking through work-related issues, or conversations they haven’t had time to reflect on during an otherwise busy day.
Running or holding a prominent position in a business can mean they’re extremely stressed with huge demands on their time and a team of people plus sales figures to worry about.
Juggling family life with work is another factor that stresses people out. Perhaps they feel guilty they’re not attending school or family medical appointments because of work commitments and this can all weigh heavily on people’s minds.
Trying to fit in social, fitness and relaxing activities alongside a busy work life can become stressful and cause hormonal fluctuations meaning they’re extra stressed and can’t sleep. Or perhaps they’re relying on junk food get a short term burst of energy, or because they don’t have time to cook fresh food, which is causing inflammation to keep them awake at night.
Plenty of famous business professionals struggle with sleep. Although this certainly doesn’t mean you should try to emulate them. Examples include Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi, AOL’s Founder Tim Armstrong and Donald Trump.
Tips for Improving Sleep
You might have read tales of sleep pods in the offices of Silicon Valley’s tech empires, were stressed out, sleep-deprived executives can go and take power naps. There’s solid science behind this: Napping is one way to cope with sleep deprivation and studies have shown that a nap that lasts for just ten minutes can help cognitive function.
Creating a strict sleep schedule should help if you’re struggling. This includes meditating with a sleep app like Headspace for ten minutes once you’re lying down and in bed at night. Of course, getting to bed at a decent time is also key - aim to be in bed by 11pm on weeknights, be strict about not reading or replying to emails after 8pm and cut back on big meals or spicy food at night (Indian curry is a leading culprit for keeping people awake at night). Try including a quality supplement to ensure decent rest like Lumity’s two-step Morning and Night Formula which includes nutrients to help you sleep throughout the night.
Advice for Sleeping Better in Exceptional Circumstances
Some lucky people can go to sleep wherever they are – whether that’s on a plane, or in a car. If you’re the type who needs to be in their own bed to sleep properly don’t despair. You probably will find you sleep well if you relax - worrying about it won’t help. Try meditation apps, noise-cancelling devices that create white noise so you can’t hear any strange noises, earphones and eye masks that block out light.
If you’re really struggling to sleep, consult a medical professional.