Four sleep habits of highly productive people

This article was originally published on Medium.com

If you want to be more productive, it behooves you to look at some of the world’s most successful people and see what they have in common. And it turns out that one thing they all have in common is that they sleep well. Unsurprising really, since sleep is absolutely vital to cognitive performance.

It turns out there’s a lot more to sleeping well than just cutting back on caffeine and trying to get to bed on time. In fact, good sleep habits take place throughout the entire day. Here’s what the world’s most productive people do to make sure they sleep well.

They sleep on a regular schedule

Almost all highly successful people get at least 6 hours of sleep, every night.The most successful businesspeople usually get 6–8 hours a night, averaging about 7. Elite athletes usually sleep ten or more hours, with some, like Lebron James, averaging 11–12 hours a night.

Aside from the amount of sleep successfully people get, they’re also notable for the regularity of their sleep schedule. The healthiest, most productive people tend to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day.Even when they travel, they make it their top priority to adjust to their new time zone within a day so that jet lag won’t keep dragging them down.

They stay active during the day

Richard Branson goes for a run almost every day at 6 AM. Barack Obama exercises for 45 minutes, 6 days a week. Highly productive people make sure to exercise, even when they’re busy. Hell, they exercise because they’re busy.They understand that a good exercise routine doesn’t cost you time- it actually gives you more time, by giving you more energy and a healthier brain.

In addition to working out, successful people also make sure to get plenty of light during the day. If they work indoors, they keep the lights bright, the windows uncovered, and they make an effort to get outside when they can.They understand that bright light signals their brains to stay away and alert- while also making it easier for the brain to understand that night time is sleep time.

Both light and exercise during the day make it easier to sleep at night. By being more awake and active during the day- by making daytime truly feel like daytime– you heighten the contrast between day and night, reinforcing your body’s circadian rhythm.

If you want to learn how to build the habit of consistently working out, check out this free habit change cheat sheet.

They design their bedrooms for sleep

This one might sound off- aren’t all bedrooms designed for sleep? Well in theory, yes. In practice, we tend to screw that up pretty badly.

A well-designed bedroom isn’t just a room with a bed; it’s also a room without distractions. That means no TV and no computer. It means no light and noise bothering you at night. It means you never work in your bedroom, ever. Highly productive people always work somewhere besides their bedroom; you should too, even if it’s just your kitchen table.

Most importantly, successful people never bring anything into their bedroom that causes stress. Aside from sleeping, you shouldn’t be doing very much in your bedroom. Having sex, changing clothes, maybe a little light fiction reading before bed, but that’s it. Controlling your sleep environment is one of the best things you can do to sleep better and improve your overall energy level.

They never work in the bedroom, or before going to bed

It seems obvious that the most productive people in the world would be working almost every waking hour. But while some of them come close, all successful people understand the importance of relaxation.

Most importantly, because highly productive people prioritize sleep, they make sure to separate it from work. They never bring work into the bedroom- they’d rather work literally anywhere else, even standing at the kitchen counter.

For the same reason, they also make sure to stop working at least a half hour before bed. They follow a set pre-bed routine designed to help them unwind so they can de-stress and get to sleep quickly. Just like sleep time, pre-bed relaxation time is held sacrosanct.

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