On a recent trip to San Francisco, I attended a local Meetup group for young entrepreneurs. One of the other members I met told me that he launched his business six months ago. It wasn’t growing as fast as he hoped, which was causing serious problems with his sleep. He was only averaging four and a half hours of sleep a night.
This problem is common, but it shouldn’t be something you take lightly. If you don’t get your sleeping problems under control, it can destroy your startup before it ever takes off.
Startup Stress Causes Insomnia… And Insomnia Can Ruin a Startup
Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart. You will have to make significant sacrifices in your personal life. It will place a lot of strain on your finances as well. The stress and uncertainty of running a business can keep you up at night.
The reality is that sleep problems plague many Americans. According to the American Sleep Association, up to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders tend to be more common among entrepreneurs for a few reasons:
- The anxiety about growing their business tends to weigh on them.
- Financial insecurity causes a lot of stress, which can keep them up at night.
- They tend to work longer hours and often late into the night.
- They don’t always have enough downtime to decompress.
- The social expectations of success can be a downer.
All of these problems are understandable, but it is absolutely vital to get your sleeping problems under control if you want to thrive as an entrepreneur. Here are some tips to follow.
Too many people get carried away with busywork. They like to do random things just so that they can pat themselves on the back for being successful. This is a terrible mistake for entrepreneurs.
Working into the dead of the night on tasks that don’t bring you closer to your goals can leave you burnt out in a matter of weeks. You will have a difficult time falling asleep when you are discouraged and keep cutting into the hours you should be sleeping.
Focus on tasks that absolutely need to get done. Try to outsource things as needed and use various hacks to save time, such as shortcuts to counting inventory.
- Leave Some Time for Self-Care and Socializing
During the early months of your startup, you won’t get to spend as much time going out for drinks with your friends. You probably won’t get to spend as much time at the gym either. However, you can’t cut these things out of your life entirely.
It is important to have a work-life balance. Socializing and exercising is important to keep your in good physical condition and maintain high spirits. You will have to cut back on them to a point, but don’t eliminate them from your life altogether.
This is particularly important if you work in a very stressful profession. Pamela Macias, the founder of San Diego Eviction Services, says that she works in a very stressful profession, so she must find time to decompress. Other real estate professionals that offer eviction services often develop debilitating sleep problems, due to the stress of lawsuits, hostile tenants and long hours dealing with eviction processes.
- Practice Better Sleep Hygiene
In general, Americans make a lot of bad choices that keep them from sleeping well. These include:
- Eating fatty foods before bedtime. Fatty acids trigger the reticular activating system (RAS), which is the part of the brain that regulates feelings of alertness. This makes it tougher to sleep.
- Using electronics late at night. Electronics have created an insomnia epidemic. Many doctors have noticed more patients suffering from insomnia since smartphones became household items.
- Changing your sleep patterns frequently. You should go to bed at the same time every night. If you do need to change your sleep patterns, you should change your bedtime gradually by 15 minutes a night over the course of a week or two to avoid disrupting your circadian rhythms too much.
Poor sleep hygiene is bad enough for most people, but it can be devastating for entrepreneurs that are already susceptible to insomnia due to high levels of stress and anxiety.