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Apr 26, 2011 – Sleep. It’s one of the most important things that your body needs in order to be healthy. It’s also essential to having a sharp mind, being able to learn, be in a good mood, and even to stay safe and maintain a healthy weight. It is an important part of just about every corner of your life. Problem is, if you are like most entrepreneurs, you have no hesitation about sacrificing it for your work.

What you don’t realize is that all those nights you stay up putting in hours may be doing more harm than good. Here are 8 ways your sleep habits could actually be destroying your productivity:

1.   Trimming an hour off. Every person has their own basal sleep need, which is the amount that your body needs for optimal performance. Adults usually fall somewhere between 7 and 9 hours per night. So if your body has a basal need of 8 hours per night and you trim an hour off each day, your setting yourself up to not be at your peak performance capabilities. To determine what you body needs, pay attention to how you feel after various amounts of sleep. When you consistently feel your best at a particular amount, that’s your basal sleep need.

2.   Believing it is easy to adjust to sleep schedules. It can take a couple of weeks for your body to adjust to a new sleep schedule. This is important to keep in mind if you are going to be traveling somewhere that has a different time zone. A week before you go, start living off that time zone, and you will have a much easier time adjusting once you get there.

3.   Not thinking you need as much sleep as you used to. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need less sleep as you age. The amount of sleep that your body needs remains quite consistent throughout your entire adulthood.

4.   Believing length of sleep is the most important thing. Just because you laid in bed for 10 hours doesn’t mean that you actually got a good night’s sleep. What matters is how well you slept. It is important that you got deep sleep, as sleeping soundly is more important than staying in bed longer. To help you sleep more soundly, try using a white noise machine.

5.   Thinking you can catch up on sleep another time. While you may feel better getting to sleep in on the weekend, you don’t actually have a sleep bank, where you can make up hours that you lose. The best route to take is to aim for getting what your body needs on a daily basis.

6.   Feeling as though naps are for the weak. Naps can be an important part of keeping you alert and performing at your best. A power nap of just 20-30 minutes can go a long way toward make you feel fresh, alert, and ready to take on the rest of your day. Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein regularly napped, and I wouldn’t exactly call them weak!

7.   Downplaying your snoring. Snoring may be common, but that does not mean that it’s not something that you should be worried about. Snoring can actually be a sign of some serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease or sleep apnea. If you are a heavy snorer, it is important to speak to a doctor about it to make sure it is nothing serious. You can also try wearing nasal strips to bed at night or an anti-snoring pillow, to try to curb the problem.

8.   Thinking only stress keeps people awake at night. There are many things that can keep people awake at night, with stress being just one of them. One way you can help to alleviate this is to create a bedtime routine where you do something calming leading up to bedtime, such as reading or taking a bath. Avoid working right until bedtime. Instead, create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you fall asleep faster.

Don’t downplay the importance of getting enough quality sleep. Without it, your health will likely suffer, as well as your productivity. Sleep is one of those things that we can’t do without. And besides, who would really want to? (By: Mike Michalowicz)

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