Knowledge, creativity and innovation are all essential tools for every successful business person. But what about sleep? That’s one tool in everyone’s arsenal which is often left to rust and lose its edge.
Sleep is increasingly gaining an almost cult following in its contribution to the lives of successful business people. More and more are speaking out about the importance of a good night’s sleep. And that can be anything from six to 10 hours – it really just depends on each individual person. Your body reacts incredibly differently to that of your friend or colleague. It’s essential you don’t attempt to sleep for just a few hours a night because that’s what your peers are doing.
One person speaking out about the importance of sleep is Arianna Huffington, co-founder, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington’s latest book, The Sleep Revolution, details the importance of sleep which she discovered after collapsing in her office during a particularly busy period in her life.
Her rules for sleep include:
- Sleep is an essential human need.
- Exhaustion is not something to be proud of but a sign of chaos.
- A bedroom should be a beautiful escape.
- Your cellphone should not be present in this space.
- When you walk through this door, business should be left behind.
Huffington, who installed sleeping pods at her offices so employees can nap, says she treats her bedtime like a ritual not to be interfered with.
“I have a specific time at night when I regularly turn off my devices – and gently escort them out of my bedroom. The last thing before bed, I take a hot bath with Epsom salts and a candle to relax – a bath that I prolong if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something.
“Just before I go to sleep, I pause to think about the things that I’m grateful for in that moment. That way my blessings, not my worries, get the closing scene of the night.”
In addition, new research from University of California–San Diego suggests there’s a link between sleeping and earning. Their findings indicated that sleeping for an extra hour each night had the potential to increase average earning by 16 percent. For the average study participant, this meant an extra $6 000 each year.
Adding his voice to the conversation is Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist. What does that mean? He’s an expert on sleep studies. He speaks to the importance of a good night’s rest in his TED talk, Why do we need sleep?
“This isn’t some sort of crystal-waving nonsense,” he says. “This is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health.”
Foster says our attitudes toward sleep are polar opposites to what they were in previous generations. They knew the importance of being asleep, wrapped in blankets for many hours each day.
Also on the TED stage is UK-based science writer Jessa Gamble. She talks about what ideal, natural sleeping patterns look like in her talk, Our natural sleep cycle is like nothing we do now. In studies an ideal sleep cycle was found to be, she says, a four hour stretch of sleep, a period of wakeful meditation and then another four hour sleep session.
“The people in these studies report feeling so awake during the daytime, that they realise they’re experiencing true wakefulness for the first time in their lives.”