Are you getting enoughContinuing our January theme of goals & productivity, are you getting enough in the bedroom?

Don’t worry we’re not prying too far, I mean sleep. Over the last year, more and more voices have raised the importance of sleep to our performance. Arianna Huffington called sleep the big idea for 2016 (it proved to be a theme), stating that a revolution is needed to raise it’s importance. Michael Hyatt has been raising the importance of sleep and napping for a few years, as essential aids to perform at your best. Psychology Today has even published a new survey explaining why sleep is so important.

So, why is this relevant for Customer Insight leaders and how does snoozing under your duvet help you achieve your goals?

I’d like to share some great advice from those thought leaders and my own personal experience with giving rest more priority in my life.

To kick us off in focussing on this subject, let’s go to the mother of all news blogs. In an article for the Huffington Post, Arianna shares what was also her submission for LinkedIn “Big Ideas for 2016”. That is the need to prioritize getting enough sleep.  She includes interesting thoughts from leaders in the fields of business & sport, as well as the role technology plays on both sides of the equation:

A Sleep Revolution Will Allow Us to Better Solve the World’s Problems

So here’s the big idea I think will shape 2016: sleep. That’s right, sleep! How much and how well we sleep in the coming year — and the years to follow — will determine, in no small measure, our ability to address and solve the problems we’re facing as individuals and as a society.

When reading Arianna’s thoughts, I was reminded of advice I have heard numerous times from leading blogger Michael Hyatt. Through his podcasts and blog on intentional leadership, Michael has raised the importance of sleep since 2012. But as well as practical advice on creating the right environment to get a sound night’s sleep, he also champions the oft ridiculed habit of napping during the day. As well as famous advocates from Winston Churchill to Pope Francis, Michael outlines why it helps & how not to over do it:

My Secret Weapon for Extra Energy at Work

The evidence is undeniable-we need good sleep to perform at our best. And one way we can get more rest is to make room in the middle of the day for a killer nap. I once worked for a man who napped nearly every day.

So, what about the promised personal disclosure? What do I get up to in the bedroom? Well, as a young man I used to always be a sound sleeper. Like my sons now, I could sleep easily and normally got a full night’s sleep. After 4 children’s worth of disturbed nights & the passage of years to middle age, I’ve followed most men in becoming a lighter sleeper. Some studies show we can cope with less sleep as we get older, but I now wake easily if it’s not dark, quiet & cool (the best environment for sleep). So, partly out of necessity, I and my wife have learned to prioritize sleep more these days. But I was always sceptical of my wife’s habit to nap after lunch.

To me, napping in the day just felt indulgent, lazy and vaguely wrong. Rationally I was also concerned that I wouldn’t sleep as well at night as a result. It was reading Michael Hyatt two years ago that encouraged me to give it a go. I’m glad I did. During 25 years of office-life, I’d become used to an energy & alertness drop in the early afternoon. In the past this was simply addressed by another latte & probably a cake (cue weight gain whilst in corporate life) and also became the prime time for emails/mindless activity. But since taking up napping, I can honestly say that it makes the afternoon feel like a second morning, another chance to start the day refreshed.

Are you sceptical about taking #naps? Do you know how? Click To Tweet

From personal experience, I would add one more tip to those mentioned by Arianna & Michael, consistency. Once I determined to rise at the same hour every day & wherever possible to nap for the same 45 minutes after lunch each day, those sleep times became more effective. Rising is easier and repeating this often enough to become a habit seems to make sleeping more effective and to feel like a natural biorhythm. I recommend you try it. Losing the lie-ins at the weekend can feel tough, but for an introvert like me, unhurried alone time in the morning is also calming & refreshing.

Anyway, enough indulgent self-reflection, what about some science on all this? In Psychology Today, Paula Davis-Laack shares the results of a survey conducted by One Poll. Results from surveying 1,000 adults reveal that 91% sometimes or always wake up in the night. That accords with both my experience and a documentary on the BBC a few years ago which revealed that, before modern times it was regarded as normal, such that people would light candles & read or work in this productive middle-of-the-night time. More seriously, 40% of survey respondents said they felt exhausted & irritable as a result. 86% said they woke because of temperature & this article shares some thoughts on overcoming the stress & anxiety that can feed worsening sleep patterns, rather than be “sleep macho” instead:

New Survey Explains the Importance of Sleep

Are you a sleep worker? No, not a sleepwalker, but a person who goes to work and attempts to function on too little sleep? It turns out, one-third of American workers are sleep working – not getting enough sleep to function at peak levels, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School.

One final tip from me. For over a year now, I’ve taken on the medical advice to avoid ‘screen time’ prior to sleeping; to allow yourself an hour before you need to sleep to unwind. For me the most productive way to achieve this has been a return to my childhood pattern of reading in bed. Not business or technical books, that make me wake up further with new ideas firing off, but a return to reading fiction. Not only have a I now read more novels in a year than in any previous decade, but was able to enjoy “Gone Girl” & “The Martian” before seeing those films and am now recording the BBC’s adaptation of “War & Peace” as I finally complete reading Tolstoy’s classic.

#AreYouGettingEnough? Why not prioritize #sleep for 2017? Click To Tweet

How about you? What works for you in the bedroom (to help you sleep)? Have you tried napping?