A Startup Employee’s Best Life Hack? Get Some Sleep!

Startup Employee's Best Life Hack

Startup Employee’s Best Life Hack

For today’s entrepreneur, the common life and work hacking strategy can be a lifesaver and a productivity blessing. Ideas for optimizing life and productivity range from ever so simple tweaks like eating breakfast and getting up earlier in the morning, to more radical ideas like creating a schedule for when to look away from the computer monitor. (Every 34 minutes; It’s true, we know a guy…)

For founders and startup employees alike, pushing the limits of productivity is often essential. In the early stages of a startup company, pivots occur often, and must be executed quickly. These conditions can at times push startup employees to their limits. The emergence of life hacking and work hacking in the 80’s led to the creation of simple and straightforward ways to optimize our lives, both in and out of work in order to push ourselves further. I myself live by quite a few of them nowadays, and have seen the benefits (when I stick with them) in my daily life. And if you implement only one hack in your life, it should be this: GET SOME SLEEP!

“Sleep? While working at a startup, you say?” I know, what an absurd statement. I should be run out the door for even suggesting it. Yet no matter how you live your waking life, it will always be a product of how you  sleep. And yes, at crunch time, we all have to pull the overnighters and hammer through pivots and projects. But that should necessitate regular healthy sleep habits among startup employees and founders even more.

Life Hacking? Consider the following:

Memory, Learning, and Retention

Research indicates that sleep deprivation limits your ability to learn and retain information, and that several different types of memories are consolidated throughout multiple stages of the sleep cycle. Why play memory games when you can just go pass out? http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory

Creativity and Problem Solving

A recent study offered a more concrete basis around the impact of sleep on problem solving, creativity, and our ability to restructure information. Subjects were placed in groups that either allowed a full night sleep, a specified waking period, or were made to stay awake all night, and were then given a complex number problem to solve. Individuals who received 8 hours of sleep at night were found to be 3 times more likely to solve the assigned problem. Finding yourself stuck on the same problem over and over? Sleep on it! http://rense.com/general48/creat.htm

Sleep, Stress and Sleep

The connections between poor sleep and higher stress levels are probably pretty obvious to you. If you have ever had an unrestful night, you have likely felt elevated levels of stress the following day. And of course, studies have emerged showing that sleep and stress levels are interconnected, with each causing and leading to the other in both directions. Furthermore, studies have shown that poor sleep leads to higher cortisol levels, the hormone that relates to stress levels, as well as vise versa. Aggressive funding or project goals got you feeling anxious? Perhaps a pivot to your bed is in order.

The benefits of quality sleep go on and on, and can be easily applied to today’s startup employee, nevermind the average individual. This leads to an even more important question: How do I increase the quality of my sleep? Enter the common life hacks. Whether it’s going to bed and waking at the same time each day, turning off your phone, computer and televisions two hours before bed, making your bed in the morning, or facing your clock away from you during the night, you will see a benefit from anything that promotes healthy, natural and undisturbed sleep.

The average person can probably afford to deviate from a good night’s sleep, but for the startup employee, consistent and quality sleep is the mother of all life hacks. Eventually, you will probably find yourself pulling the common all-nighters, but until then, do whatever you can to get your eight hours in. Your startup depends on it!

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