For many of us that run small business, or are just extremely busy people with a lot on our plate, we all wish that we didn’t have to sleep. So we try to cut back, pull late nights and all-nighters, but usually it just makes us more and more tired. So how we sleep less, and be more productive and energetic throughout the day?
Well, first understand that you need sleep. There’s no substitute. But the solution isn’t needing more sleep, it’s getting better sleep. By being disciplined and adjusting your habits, you can cut back on an hour or so of sleep, and still feel more energized throughout the day. But a warning – don’t overdo this. It’s still recommended that you get at least a good 6 hours. There is no way to cut back to 3 or 4 hours and maintain your health and energy. However, if you are getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep but still feeling exhausted, these tips might help you out.
First, Get the Most Out of Sleep
If you’re going to reduce your sleep, then you need to get the most out of it that you can. That means ensuring that you’re actually sleeping while in bed and not just lying awake. Here are some tips to ensure your body enters into a natural sleep cycle.
1. Set a Sleeping Schedule & Stick To It
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, everyday. This gets your body adjusted so it can naturally go into sleep mode when you go to bed. To ensure that you actually fall asleep when you want to, don’t stimulate your senses an hour or 2 before sleeping. That means avoid looking at bright screens like your phone, computer or TV. Dim the lights in your house. A great practice is to read a book about 30 minutes before going to bed.
2. Gradually Reduce Sleep in Small Increments
Once your sleeping schedule is set, gradually reduce the sleep by 5-10 minutes every couple of days, either going to bed later or waking up earlier. This is where setting a strict sleep schedule becomes key. By being disciplined, you can reduce your sleep by half an hour to an hour after a couple of weeks and not notice the difference.
3. Make Sure You Stay Asleep
To make sure that you are fully rested, it’s important that you don’t have any interruptions. This means basics like going to the bathroom before you sleep or eating a light snack, so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night. For me, my mouth dries out really easily and I often wake up thirsty in the middle of the night. I’ve gotten in the habit of having a water bottle beside my bed so that I can take a quick sip and go right back to sleep. Keep the room completely dark and silent. If you need to, wear a sleep mask or ear muffs. Or play sleep music, as that helps some people fall asleep easier.
4. Take a Break Once a Week
Everyone’s body is different. We all need different amounts of sleep – there’s no magical number that can apply to everybody. So don’t push yourself beyond what your body can handle. Some people only need 5 hours, some need 8. If you are reducing your sleep though, try to catch up on the weekends. Let yourself sleep in once a week to rest and restore your body.
Next, Sustain Your Energy Throughout the Day
Now that you’ve maximized your sleep, it’s important to maintain your energy throughout the day. This does not mean drinking more coffee and energy drinks. They just get you all jittery for an hour and then you crash and feel worse. The key is to have natural energy that is sustained.
1. Avoid Too Much Coffee
I say “too much” because I love coffee. Having a cup in the morning is a great way pick-me-up, both chemically and psychologically. But, avoid more than one cup. You shouldn’t be drinking throughout the day. It’ll only make you more tired mid-day and get you dehydrated.
2. Drink Water
When we often feel tired, it’s not because we need sleep. It’s because we need water. Hydration is key to energy. Avoid drinks full of caffeine or sugar, like coffee and sodas. Those only dehydrate you. When you wake up in the morning, you’re often tired because you’re dehydrated. Drink a glass or 2 of water right when you wake up, and drink consistently throughout the day. Remember that 8 glasses of water rule from when you were a kid?
3. Eat Light & Often
Avoid the heavy 3-meals-day. We’ve all experienced the dreaded yet loved food coma. Eat light meals, and even lighter snacks in between. Of course, keep it healthy and balanced. Snacking on fruit, yogurt or granola bars every hour or 2 helps keep your blood sugar up, your mind off of food, and prevents you from gorging yourself at lunch or dinner because you’re so hungry.
4. Exercise Everyday
Physical activity gets your body going and keeps it active throughout the day. You’ll experience more energy and boosts your mood. It also helps significantly with getting a good night’s sleep. Be sure to keep this up daily though. 20 minutes to an hour is good, depending on your fitness level. Even a simple walk will do.
5. Rest Your Eyes
For many of us, our work day consists of staring at a computer screen. This will definitely wear you out. Your eyes get tired from the LED lights, from focusing so intently for a long time, and from not blinking. Yes, you’ll be amazed at how long you can stare at a computer screen and not blink without realizing it. Set timers. Every 30 minutes to an hour, look away from your screen for a couple of minutes, gazing at something far away. It’ll help you rest your eyes. Every hour or 2, stand up and walk around for 5 minutes to get your blood flowing. And again, set timers, because you’ll forget.
6. Power Nap
A quick doze midday is like a reset button for your body, but only if you’re feeling tired. 20 minutes should be good. Any longer will just make you groggy afterwards.
Do you have any other suggestions to reduce your sleep and get more energized during your day? Let us know!