Alternative Sleep Schedules Can Supercharge Your Work Life

September 12, 2016

8:00 pm

Entrepreneurs are always pressed for time. Between the incredible demands at work and their attempts to preserve a social life, there’s very little time for anything else, sleep included. Unfortunately, a lack of quality sleep is dangerous and unhealthy. Eventually, it’ll erode the progress you’ve made in your career and prevent you from climbing any further.

So, what’s the solution? Tragically enough, it’s not as simple as getting more sleep. Entrepreneurs know that eight or nine hours of sleep on a consistent nightly basis is the best thing to do, but it’s far from practical. The best advice you can give is to get better sleep.

Sleep less and accomplish more – that’s the goal. But how do you make it happen? Here are some tips, strategies, and techniques that countless other entrepreneurs have used to feel better and remain productive.

Establish the Right Environment

The key to getting better quality sleep is to establish an environment that’s conducive to sleep. If your sleep environment doesn’t allow you to fall asleep and stay asleep, then it really doesn’t matter what sleep schedule or routine you try – it won’t work.

When it comes to your sleep environment, there are a few major things to think about. First off, you need to ensure the room is the appropriate temperature. Depending on whether or not you have HVAC, it may be necessary to use fans, open windows, or add more blankets. Secondly, think about lighting. You want it to be dark when you go to sleep and light when you wake up. This will aid your body’s natural sleep cycle.

Finally, consider the mattress you’re using.

“Eight out of ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives,” Amerisleep explains. “This can range from a dull, constant ache to chronic debilitating pain. Since we spend approximately one-third of our days in bed, our choice of mattress can have a huge impact on whether this pain continues or improves.”

Try New Sleep Schedules

If traditional sleep patterns are impractical, you may need to mix things up and try alternative approaches. One such approach is schedules as polyphasic sleep. These sleep cycles reorganize your shut-eye into economical chunks or series of naps totaling two hours and four hours, respectively.

Some of the people rumored to have given polyphasic sleep schedules a try include Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Nikola Tesla. Most people who try these sporadic sleep schedules end up giving up after just a few days, but it may be worth considering. These sleep schedules have helped plenty of people get more rest in less time.

Ditch the Sheets

This technique involves sleeping without a pillow or comforter. You simply place a fitted sheet over your mattress and you’re ready to go.

“I took the bath towel from my bag, folded it a few times, and used it as a pillow. It was a warm night and I slept easily. I woke in the early morning chill of darkness. It was 5am. I didn’t need to be up for hours,” says Seth Simonds, who first tried this approach out of necessity. “But I had no reason to stay in bed. Bed was cold. Bed was unwelcoming. I had slept. I was awake. The day had begun.”

The theory behind this sleep technique – and it should be noted this is only an option during warm months – is that you go to bed comfortable and then wake up in the morning when the temperature has dropped. Since you don’t have the option of snuggling underneath the comforter, you instead get up and take a warm shower. From this point on, you’re ready to go.

Create Your Own Routine

As children, we all remember the sleep scheduled we used to have. They typically involved getting in our pajamas, brushing our teeth, and having a parent read us a book.

Whether you realized it or not at the time, your parents were establishing a routine to help you know it was time to fall asleep. In adulthood, you should do the same thing. Establish consistency and you’ll fall asleep quicker.

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Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. When she isn't writing, she's outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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