Updated: Nov 17, 2022
"Stop it!" Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister famously said to Aussies when everyone was panic buying toilet paper at the start of COVID.
Well, leaders, you know I love you... But stop it! Stop neglecting your sleep! You need it. You care so much about strategy and vision but if you miss sleep to hit a deadline then it's not a problem.
It is though and I want to encourage you to prioritise your sleep to maximise your performance not just for your sake but for the people you love - your partner, your kids, your colleagues and the people you serve.
Standardise your sleep: Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every night.
Create a wind-down process. I find having a hot shower before bed is a great daily ritual to help wind down.
Avoid coffee in the 8 hours before you go to sleep. If you want to sleep at 10pm, have your last coffee (or caffeine if you're a tea drinker) by 2pm at the latest.
Minimise alcohol intake. Sorry delicious gin! You'll now be an irregular part of my diet...
Start your day, if possible, by going outside and getting minimum two minutes, preferably 30 minutes of sunlight. Don't look at the sun, just being outside when it's light is great.
Add exercise to the start of your day to tell your body, "Hello! It's time to be awake!" because then your circadian clock will also kick in which helps you sleep at night. (Cool hey?)
Speaking of cool, sleep cooler. Your body goes down in temperature to sleep and up in temp through the day so cooler temperatures make for better sleep.
Shorten your bed time routine. Your current routine is just a routine cause it's a routine. Change that routine by changing a routine to create a new routine. Get it? In all seriousness, start modifying it bit by bit. Make it short, sharp and quick to go from getting in bed to all lights off and sleeping to maximise sleep rather than just time in bed.
Minimise light at night. More light in the morning and through the day, less light at night makes for a more awake... you? Sorry, couldn't make a rhyme happen.
Expand your sleep time. By now you have a routine and a rhythm. Maybe that's 7 hours, maybe it's 8, maybe it's 6. Whatever it is, try adding 15 mins to half an hour. If you're a 10pm bed for 11pm sleep sort of person, try 10pm bed for 10:30pm sleep as a new routine to kick into. This extra sleep, and I can't stress this enough, can be life-changing.
Ready for the kicker?
Research shows how much you sleep, particularly REM sleep has a linear correlation to mortality. In other words, if you want to live a long time. If you want to meet your grandchildren. If you want to leave a legacy...
Put down the strategy paper and create a routine where you get more sleep.
Here's a great podcast on sleep with three hours of discussion by two fantastic scientists if you're interested in diving deeper: