I have a confession to make - I’ve been trying to write this blog for two hours now, and I just keep staring at the screen. The words don’t make sense, and I honestly can’t comprehend what I’m reading. My mind feels like the fuzz you get on the TV when the reception is bad – I’m trying to bring ideas up to the surface, but all I’m getting is static.
I am suffering from sleep deprivation. Small-business owner sleep deprivation, to be exact. Is that an actual thing? If it’s not, it should be, because I am certain other entrepreneurs have the same problem. I’ve pulled more all-nighters since starting my own business than I ever did during my college days.
As I write this, I’m coming off my 5th straight night of little to no sleep. Yesterday, I worked until 12 o'clock in the morning. Then, my 3-year old (who still doesn't sleep through the night) woke me up at 1:00 a.m., 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.
I feel like I might be dying. Perhaps not literally. But my work IS suffering (literally).
It’s not just me – a study by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School says that most people don’t get enough sleep. The consequences are dire – short-term effects include poor judgement, mood swings, and an inability to learn and retain information. In the workplace, this translates to reduced efficiency and productivity and careless errors. Long-term, it’s even worse: diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are all on the long list of possible consequences.
For working moms, it’s even worse. The National Sleep Foundation found that women aged 30-60 get just over 6 hours of sleep on average during the week. That’s far below the recommended 7-9 hours. They also noted that women suffer from more sleep-related disorders than men – maybe it's because we expect ourselves to successfully juggle so many things at all times.
I preach a lot of self-care to my clients, but I've been sorely lacking on that front in my own life. If you're like me, and you've been putting work before everything else (including your own well being), I'd like to invite you to take on a little challenge with me this week: go to bed by 10 p.m. every night. Shut down your technology after dinner and spend the evenings recharging and taking care of yourself.
It might feel like you're slacking, but trust me - your work will be a million times better for it. You can only be your best self - and do your best work - when you're functioning at 100%.