It may be hard to believe, but you really can sleep your way to success.
I am, of course, talking about the eight to nine hours a night that you spend in bed, with your nervous system inactive, your muscles relaxed, and your mind filled with – I hope – pleasant dreams.
Sleep is, to be frank, the closest thing to a superpower humans have. It’s rocket fuel for your life, only a little less dramatic because it doesn’t involve explosions, fire, or being launched into space (at least, it really shouldn’t). Another way to put it is like this: sleep is to you as the sun is to the little pots of basil you have growing on your kitchen bench. One final comparison: getting a good night’s sleep – and then getting another one, and then another one – is like letting the Best You get to be you, day in day out.
Sleeping with the successful
Forbes looked into the sleep habits of highly successful business people. What they found will amaze you: Most billionaires sleep for only four hours a night, they wake at 3:30 am each day, and they make up for tiredness with a combination of black coffee and Swisse sleep multivitamins.
Successful people in the business world are a lot like you or me. They get between six to eight hours a night (and most could probably do with a little more), they try to have regular patterns of when they go to sleep and when they wake, and most sleep at fairly ‘regular’ times.
Leonardo da Vinci famously said that he slept for only 1.5 hours a day, but a) you are not Leonardo da Vinci, and b) I think that this claim is one of his more fanciful inventions. Repeat after me: I am not Leonardo da Vinci.
And nor should you want to be Leonardo da Vinci. Here’s one of life’s best-kept secrets: sleep is good. It’s good for your body, good for your brain, and good for those around you (if you don’t believe me on this last point, ask your loved ones if they prefer you when you’re well-rested or when you’re tired. If you’re feeling brave, you can tell them which version of them you prefer).
Strategise your way to sleep success
We think we need sage advice.
The type of advice written on a dusty scroll sitting in the cool of a cave, undisturbed for thousands of years. Or the type of advice dispensed at a financial workshop your cousin Albert got you free tickets to. Or the type of advice – you get the picture.
And yes, sometimes, sage advice is exactly what we need. Experts exist for a reason.
But in my experience, it’s often the simple advice that makes all the difference. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered in my travels. Use them, adapt them, ignore them – I don’t mind. But I think they’ll help.
- Aggressively plan to sleep. Fail to plan and you plan to sail. No doubt you’ve heard that cliché before. When it comes to sleep, it’s entirely true. Your car won’t be propelled along the road by good intentions alone, and neither will you towards healthy sleep. Plan to sleep with the same intensity with which you plan to wake up. Set a sleep alarm in your phone, and when it goes off, switch off the television, put away the cross-stitching, push the Fussball table back into the corner, and start getting ready for bed.
- Know thyself. Figure out how much sleep you need. For most Australians, around eight hours is the sweet spot. Give yourself time to figure out what is best for you. Speak to your GP if it seems like you need significantly more or less than this amount.
- Say no to the glow. Your iPhone, Android, Nokia, or Huawei is your sleep enemy. In fact, the brand really doesn’t make a difference. Glowing blue-white light disrupts your natural sleep rhythms and warps the healthy signals that help your brain and body prepare for sleep. The answer is simple: rent a small wooden boat, row a long way from shore, and drop your phone into the ocean. Alternatively, give your phone a bedtime a few hours before your own.
- Get the conditions right. Let me guess: you like sleeping in a relatively cool, quiet, and dark room. Make sure your bed is as comfortable as possible. If you can splurge a little on pillows, sheets, and bedding … go for it. Think of how much time you spend sleeping. You deserve a few creature comforts.
- Don’t be a hero. Get the help you need. If you are having significant difficulty sleeping, it is important to speak to one of our pharmacists of your doctor. Advice targeted to your needs can help you get the sleep you need. If you have a sleep disorder, it’s also important to address the underlying causes, and not just the symptoms. For some of us, though, we might just need a nudge in the right direction. Swisse Sleep Ultiboost can help relieve sleeplessness and point you in the right sleep direction. The Swisse sleep products are formulated to help you relax and clear your mind before bed so you can get the most out of sleep.
- Rest, rinse, and repeat. How do you form a habit? The same way you grow a garden: one day at a time. You can’t just snap your fingers and become a sleep superstar overnight. But if you rest well tonight, and then tomorrow night, and then the night after, you really are well on your way to forming a habit that will change your life.
Common sense > sage advice
People love sage advice.
Sometimes people ask me questions expecting me to say something profound. Something insightful. Something that will bring tears to their eyes and joy to every fiber of their being.
The reality is, sage advice is overrated. It’s the simple advice that often makes a world of difference.
Here’s some simple advice: get a little more sleep.
Is this advice perfect for you? I can’t guarantee that it is. In fact, excessive sleep might be a sign of illness mental or physical. But most of us sit at the opposite end of the spectrum. We’re not in danger of oversleeping; we’re in danger of undersleeping. We live in the land of the never-sleeping, that strange insomnia-filled world fuelled by coffee, grim determination, and (if we’re honest) a deep mental fog.
Sleep disorders cost Australia over $35 billion dollars a year. $35 billion down the gurgler. That’s a lot of McNuggets. Frankly, it’s enough to get you reaching for the Swisse sleep tablets – just so that you can do your bit to help the Australian economy.
But forget about what it costs Australia. Think about what poor sleep costs you. Your concentration. Your patience. Your best self.
Resist that. Be the best you that you have to offer. Get the sleep you need.