One of the great misconceptions about productivity is that we need to sacrifice sleep to achieve high levels of it.
Ironically, it is often in spite of a lack of sleep that we remain productive and have any motivation, not because of it.
Sometimes however, in the hectic life of an entrepreneur, there may be times when sleep is scarce or non-existent.
I dealt with a lot of this when I was working out of my 9-5 job. I was taking 18 hours of semester credits (the maximum my guidance counselor would allow me to take in a good conscience) and working 46 hours a week at a yarn mill. I was also raising a 4-year-old son with my wife, who was expecting our 2nd during this time.
I was taking 18 hours of semester credits (the maximum my guidance counselor would allow me to take in a good conscience) and working 46 hours a week at a yarn mill. I was also raising a 4-year-old son with my wife, who was expecting our 2nd during this time.
I learned a lot about the limits of my body and how my brains operates without sleep.
It wasn't always pretty, but I learned how to make it work.
Warning: A lack of sleep can cause serious health problems. Anxiety, irritability, reduced learning capabilities and a number of other nightmarish side effects are common for sleep deprived people. This methods in this post are for worst case scenarios, not standard practice.
Oh, I am not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV.
#1 Sunlight Is Your Friend
Exposing ourselves to natural light is critical to decreasing the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
This is very important because it is melatonin that makes us tired and keeps us that way. It isn't our friend when we are fighting sleep!
What to do:
- Work near a window or naturally lighted area.
- Take frequent breaks and walk outdoors.
#2 Focus on Your Breathing
Taking slow, deliberate breaths will help heighten alertness.
- Breathe in a rhythm of 5 seconds in and then exhale 2 seconds. Repeat 4-5 times times. Do this throughout the day as you remember.
- Download an app if you would like to make this easier. There are literally hundreds of focused deep breathing apps. The app I recommend is Breathing Space (pictured above).
#3 Take a Cold Shower
Taking a very brief cold shower (between 30-60 seconds) will stimulate adrenaline levels. This will prepare your nerves for the day.
What to do:
- First thing in the morning (if possible) turn on your shower at the coldest temperature possible.
- You can either jump straight in, or ease into it from warm to colder.
- Don't make this last longer than 2 minutes tops.
#4 Eat Small Meals
Eating large meals requires the body to spend energy on digestion.
What to do:
- Don't skip eating altogether, but you should avoid eating as much as usual and certainly not more.
- Eat something with high protein. A meal of carbs will lead to an initial energy spark, but will be followed shortly after by a crash.
#5 Get a Quick Workout In
Although it seems counterintuitive, a short workout can boost hormones that reduce fatigue.
#6 Caffeine is Your Friend, Sort of...
I don't care what anyone else says, caffeine is still a miracle drug as far as productivity goes.
Don't overdo it though. Too much caffeine will leave you jittery.
Note: Everyone has a different tolerance level for caffeine. Mine is very high, so what I drink a day would not be healthy for a lot of other people. Know your limits.
What to do:
- Avoid any sugary energy drinks. Opt for coffee or 5 hour energy shots.
- Cut off at least 6 hours before you plan to go to sleep.
- Take a caffeine nap.*
* A caffeine nap is a 30-minute nap you take immediately after drinking a serving of caffeine. The caffeine takes about 45 minutes to go into effect, so when you take a nap right after drinking it like this, you will wake up with the full effects.
#7 Take a Green Supplement
You are going to need your body operating at max capacity when your sleep deprived. A green supplement will make sure you get enough of your daily nutrients.