What success traits do Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington have in common? These leaders know their priorities and don’t sacrifice proper sleep for productivity. Here are the six simple sleep habits and facts of successful leaders which you can easily implement in your daily life. As a bonus, positive sleep hygiene has benefits for your mental health as well!
Early risers may have more pronounced proactivity
Getting up before sunrise may seem like torture to some people. But studies show that early risers may have more pronounced proactivity and problem-solving behaviour, which in turn contributes to people’s perceiving them as more productive and responsible.
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So, does it mean that if you’re a night owl, you’re doomed to be a failure?
You can shift your internal clock to a more appropriate time by following these recommendations:
- Lower your room temperature – An hour before bedtime, adjust your thermostat in the range between 60 and 68F. This temperature triggers the production of melatonin (our sleep hormone), which can aid in falling asleep more easily.
- Manipulate with light – Natural light is the strongest regulator of your body clock. By greeting the sunrise in the morning and creating a dark environment in your room in the evening hours, you can balance out your rhythms and sleep more peacefully.
Now, do you know about the 10-minute rule?
Turns out, it can be pretty useful for boosting your productivity in the morning and making the most from your day. Whenever you feel like you’d rather go get some more sleep than do the task, just start doing this task —and in 10 minutes, you may find you’re not that sleepy anymore.
People believe that a new habit needs at least 21 days to become integrated into your daily life. But if you start putting effort into changing your schedule, you may actually need about a week to begin noticing the first results.
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Sticking to the schedule
Now, after you’ve decided to implement a new habit, here comes the hardest part:
You need to stick to it at all costs.
Even on weekends. The good thing is, a few tips can make your transition to a new schedule much easier:
- Determine your sleeping needs – Eight hours per night is the golden standard for an average adult, but you may need a little bit more or less than that. Use wearables that track down your sleep or just keep a sleep diary for a week or two.
- Try going to bed and waking up at the same time – This will help improve the quality of your shut-eye and provide a better internal regulation for the whole body.
WHERE you sleep also plays a role in your sleep habits
Along with HOW you sleep, WHERE you sleep also plays a role. Your bedroom should be sleep-friendly and devoid of any potential irritants that could disrupt your rest. Here’s how to achieve that:
- Use bed sheets made from natural materials – Besides having excellent breathability, linen, cotton, or silk can provide you with anti-static effects and reduce tension in the muscles.
- Throw out a pillow – This sounds counterintuitive, but some sleep experts and chiropractors believe that sleeping without a pillow is beneficial for your spine and neck health, especially if you work at the office.
- Block any noises – Soundproof windows, drapes, carpets, and good old earplugs can contribute to noise absorption and provide you with better sleep.
Also, if you have any pets, it’s better to keep them out of your bedroom, or let them sleep in a separate pet bed near you, so that they wouldn’t bounce on your mattress or roam around.
Consider how you manage stress
The life of a successful leader is full of events, which leaves little to no time for winding down and relaxing. This, in turn, results in higher stress levels and prevents you from getting enough sleep.
Luckily, there are a ton of mindfulness techniques that may help you let go of anxious thoughts and calm down before getting into your bed.
Besides mindfulness, you can refer to other ways to slow down the pace of your thinking:
- Keep a diary – Putting your worries into words isn’t only therapeutic, but it also helps you see the full picture and solve the problems more efficiently.
- Take a vacation – Obviously, sometimes you just need to completely switch off your thoughts about work. A vacation is the best way to do this, as it can recharge you so that you could get back to work with a clear mind.
- Use massage – A full-body massage session is great for relaxing deep muscle knots, and its effects are so great and noticeable you actually don’t have to do anything else afterward: just slip inside your bed and enjoy a sound sleep.
- Exercise – Yoga, stretching, pilates, or other moderate activities can also aid in the head clearing. Just be sure to perform them a couple of hours before the bedtime for a maximum effect.
Consider what foods will positively impact your sleep habits
Your diet has an effect on how well you sleep.
Some foods are more sleep-inducing than others:
- Fruits – Bananas, tart cherries, oranges, and kiwis are natural sources of melatonin, your sleep hormone. Eating them will boost your melatonin levels, and you will drift off easily.
- Dairy – Milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese are rich in tryptophan and calcium. Tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin, your happy molecule, which is also responsible for sleepiness, while calcium reduces the tension in nerve fibers and helps manage stress.
- Nuts – Almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans are rich in magnesium, which is excellent for muscle relaxation and stress relief.
No matter which food you choose, be sure to consume it at least two hours before the bedtime, so it won’t overload your gut, thereby making you alert.
Cutting down psychoactives
Psychoactive substances can break through your brain defence system and cause a number of negative effects you’d rather avoid if your goal is to sleep well.
The most common of these substances are caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. They mimic the activity of certain neurotransmitters and alter the speed of neural synapses inside your brain, which results in the following:
- unwanted alertness (caffeine);
- racing thoughts (nicotine);
- depression and slow reaction (alcohol);
- sleep disruptions (all of the above).
It’s better to avoid these substances completely. Or, learn how to use them in moderate amounts and in such a way that will result in minimal harm to your body and your sleep.
About the author
Julie Lambert is one of the leading sleep experts at Happysleepyhead. Her main passion is exploring how sleep impacts different aspects of our lives and helping people incorporate healthy sleep habits into their daily routine.