One topic that is trending in the field of entrepreneurship is how to get enough rest and sufficient rest to improve productivity and stability as leaders. This increased interest is no surprise: a 2019 RAND report citing the global economic effects of sleep deprivation found that Americans maintain the biggest economic loss ever (up to $ 411 billion a year) Huh.
Lack of sleep is associated with reduced productivity at work, resulting in a significant loss of work days each year. In addition, research shows the lost productivity due to “presentationism” (people who look for work but work at all levels).
Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are also a top contributor to symptoms such as tiredness, brain fog, and inadequate sleep. The resulting irritability causes friction in our relationships, both at work and at home, and becomes a vicious cycle. As our stress increases, so do our cortisol levels — which get us into “fight or flight” mode — and, as a result, we struggle to relax into a restful night’s sleep. In our desperation to feel well rested and avoid repeating the cycle again tomorrow, we often look for simple, quick-fix solutions.
Unfortunately, the most commonly used “treatment” in our culture only maintains this cycle. Here, we will discuss three common nighttime hours, how their side effects may be contrary to your desired outcome, and some options to try for a deeper sleep and sleep tonight.
1. Sleep Aids
Some prescription sleeping medications such as ativan (lorazepam) and restoril (temazepam) may make a person dependent on medications to sleep. These and others (such as Ambien and Lunasta) can also cause daytime sleepiness, which defeats the original purpose of getting a good night’s rest.
Other prescription drugs, such as Xanax and Valium, are also used because they induce drowsiness. The problem is that they are anti-anxiety meds and their use is unrelated to sleep. These drugs can lead people into deep, slow-wave sleep, which we need to repair our bodies and minds. Without this phase of sleep, we feel nervous in the morning.
Then there is a heavy assortment of over-the-counter (OTC) options. Some are actually considered as sleep aids, while others are meant only to include drowsiness as a side effect. Benadryl, Tylenol PM and Nyquil fall into this category. (I was enlightened, but not too surprised, my research found that Nyquil addiction is a thing, and its creators have developed ZzzQuil, marketed as a sleep aid.)
While these are generally considered safe for topical use, there may be issues when people rely on them to get enough sleep. Like anti-anxiety meds, they also cause a feeling of morning drowsiness or even “starvation”.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and any OTC meds it contains (almost every drugstore sleep aid) can also damage people’s attention and short-term memory as they age, especially with repeated or frequent use.
We all know what a stressful life feels like on those days where our memory escapes us, our brain gets clouded, or we have trouble focusing. It is difficult to stay on task or complete projects within a reasonable time frame. We get backlogged and spend a whole day behind schedule. Deadline may be missed. Instead of resolving these symptoms and their consequences, extended use of sleep aids actually mixes them.
Instead, try one of these natural options: chamomile tea, passionflower tea, valerian root extracts, tart cherry juice.
Do you ever pour a glass of wine, beer or wine specifically to help you get enough rest to sleep at night? If so, you are not alone: About 20% of American adults do this. It is considered the most effective, low-risk solution.
Drinking alcohol causes relaxation and drowsiness in most people, but during the night, the overall quantity and quality of our sleep is interrupted. If you have ever woken up at 3 am after one evening of sipping cocktails and have trouble flowing again, you have encountered an alcohol-induced sleep disruption. The sedative effects of alcohol naturally cease after a few hours, causing what is called the “metabolic rebound effect”, and directly disrupts the sleepy sleep cycle.
According to the Nature of Science and Sleep Study, many of the consequences of sleep disturbances include stress reactivity, somatic pain, decreased quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, as well as cognitive, memory, and performance deficits.
Alcohol-free stress reliever
If you are looking for an alcohol-free stress reliever, to really help you get nourished and support your restful sleep, try a hot mineral-salt bath. Epsom salt baths provide the body’s most effective method of magnesium absorption – through the skin. Magnesium is an essential mineral that instantly straightens muscles and calms stressed nerves. Aromatherapy enhances this calming effect. Sprinkle in a few drops of lavender or sage essential oils, or add any smell that feels pleasant to you.
If enjoying a special nighttime drink is an indulgence you don’t want to give up, don’t! You can replace your dinner with one of the sleep-inducing teas mentioned above, or even one of the popular booze-free craft vegetable cocktails. In addition to the relaxing ritual of relaxing with a drink, some of these also include additional stress-relieving benefits via adaptogens and nototropics (simply put: natural brain boosters and nervous system soils).
3. Screen time (TV, social media scrolling, etc.)
When they come to me, it is one of the most common nightly rituals of my clients. In fact, 90% of Americans regularly use some type of electronics within an hour of bedtime. Whether you consciously engage in this activity because you truly believe it helps you relax, or it has just become an autopilot habit, the hard truth is that this practice more than supports it will give you relaxation Bothers
First, blue light from any type of screen suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that affects circadian rhythms and induces sleepiness. This is especially dangerous in one to two hours before saying good night. One study showed that people who were exposed to blue light through reading on the screen before bed took longer to fall asleep, had lower REM sleep (dream phase), and had higher alertness before bedtime . It was also found that even after eight hours of sleep, people who read on a light emitting device start feeling sleepy and take longer to wake up.
Secondly, watching TV or movies with high-intensity action, drama or violence can trigger emotional or visceral feelings that ignite our natural stress or anxiety reactions. Social media exposure or engagement before bedtime can do the same, and none of it contributes to true relaxation at the moment, no matter how clumsy and comfortable. Even when we are able to soothe our pounding hearts and calm thoughts, eventually falling asleep, the quality of our comfort can be harmed.
A screen-free relaxation method that is sure to help you melt into a peaceful slumber is taking a little time to write in a gratitude journal. Deliberately focusing on the good that is going on today will set you up with a positive mindset that inspires mental bliss while sleeping and is over the next morning.
You can also try Restorative Yoga Poses at night to down your nervous system. (They are highly effective for relieving stress and tension during the workday, as well).
As leaders, it is our responsibility to set an example, and as entrepreneurs, it is especially important to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves. At the end of the day, it is important to note that the work we are doing is not in both business and personal life. Sometimes “the way it is always done” is not a productive or effective approach.
Self-awareness is power, and once we accept the tremors we have fallen into, it is very easy to shift ourselves outside and walk on a new path towards relaxation and we deserve it.