Make Sleep Work For You

Fortune Small Business:

Are you getting enough sleep?

For years, Cynthia McKay wasn’t.

McKay, CEO of Le Gourmet Gift Basket, a specialty-foods company based in Castle Rock, Colo., spent most of every night wide awake with her mind racing – “mostly due to the stress of business ownership and jet lag,” she says. She managed to drag herself to the office each morning while her firm expanded into countries such as Canada and Australia. But in her permanently exhausted state, she found herself making more and bigger mistakes.

While some high-achieving entrepreneurs boast of requiring minimal z’s, research shows that our sleep needs are surprisingly consistent. If you fail to get at least seven nightly hours, you’re probably operating at a cognitive disadvantage.

And your health and your business may be paying the price.

Business owners seem to share a powerful ambivalence toward sleep, both craving and shunning it. That’s especially true in this tough economy – a recent NFIB poll found that small-business owners are working longer, thanks to the slump – and during a firm’s startup phase.

Cornell University sleep researcher James Maas estimates that business owners lose at least 700 hours of sleep the year they launch their firm, or about what a parent loses the first year of a baby’s life.

New scientific research shows that going without enough sleep for more than an occasional day or two can wreak havoc on your health, memory, concentration, mood, and ability to make decisions – even if you think you’re doing fine.

“We’ve come to view getting enough sleep as optional,” says Mark Rose-kind, a former Stanford University sleep researcher. “Unfortunately, our bodies disagree.”

Read more.

Photo by C.J. Burton.

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