When we talk about success, the conversation typically focuses on traits and habits, such as education, networking, persistence, and determination. Yes, all of these are necessary for success. However, many people don’t realize the other secret ingredient: sleep. Science has proven time and time again that sleep (and a certain number of hours) on a regular schedule is absolutely necessary for success.
What’s so important about sleep? For one, it greatly impacts your health and, as we all know, you have to be healthy to maintain any success you achieve. How much sleep should you be getting? Many doctors and experts agree that the sweet spot is somewhere between 7 and 9 hours every day. There’s a good chance, however, that you’re not sleeping that long. If you’re like the average American adult, you’re only sleeping 6.5 hours a night.
So, we know that enough sleep is crucial for success. What happens, then, when we don’t get enough sleep? A number of things that can cripple success: mistakes, sloppiness, poor communication, forgetfulness, and increased stress. Beyond its impact on your work life, it also negatively affects your emotional, inner life. According to the Great British Sleep Survey, people lacking sleep were 7 times more likely to feel helpless and 5 times more likely to feel isolated or alone. This doesn’t just affect your work life; it also impacts your relationships with friends and family.
Even if you don’t feel tired, sleep deprivation is still taking a toll on your mind and body. Studies have shown that people don’t perform as well on memory and concentration tests when they’ve had less than 8 hours of sleep, even when they don’t think they’re tired or sleep deprived. This goes to show that just because you think your body can run on 6 hours, doesn’t mean your brain can.
What can you do if you just can’t fit 7 to 9 hours into your evening schedule? There is a silver lining, which means you’re definitely going to want to share this with your night owl friends and busy coworkers (use our simple social buttons below!).
A number of studies reveal that short naps, or “power” naps are just that – powerful. If you can only get 6 hours of sleep a night, try taking a short, half-hour nap during your lunch hour. When you take a short name, your brain is primed to function better. This results in quicker thinking and creativity. Don’t believe us? Take The Huffington Post’s office. Arianna Huffington is such a big proponent of sleep that the offices include nap rooms for employees to use during the day.
Another study went a step further and measured the results of a half-hour nap. Among those who napped, their alertness was higher, their heart rate lower, and their short-term memory better than those who hadn’t napped.
Now that we know the benefits of sleep, it’s time to actually sleep more at night. When our days are busy, it can be hard to easily fall asleep at night. If you’re a troubled sleeper or lack a good, deep sleep, follow these three tips for a better night’s sleep:
1. Follow a Schedule (Even on the Weekends)
Your body’s clock relies on a consistent schedule. Even on the weekends, you should try to go to sleep around the same time every night. It may take awhile, but eventually your body will catch on to your new schedule and you’ll find your body is ready to fall asleep.
2. Avoid Screens An Hour Before Sleep
The soft glow of your phone, tablet, or computer can stop your body from producing melatonin, which is the hormone that helps your brain wind down. An hour before you go to sleep, turn off all devices.
3. Skip the Chocolate, Replace with Milk
Be careful what you eat before you hit the sheets. Avoid chocolate and fatty foods and instead try a glass of milk, some turkey, or cherries. If you tend to wake up hungry in the middle of the night, try eating a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk.