Sleep is a top priority for leaders. Our bodies, our brains, our spirits need to refresh and nourish themselves each and every night. Did you know that lack of sleep over time leads to a loss of brain cells that can’t be replaced? So our brain health is deeply affected by the quality and quantity of our sleep cycles and patterns at night.
We are at our best as leaders when we have the energy, confidence, clarity of thought and capacity to be emotionally available to those that we serve in our leadership roles. How do we get that? With a solid 7 hours of sleep the night before – here’s how to get started.
Prioritize your sleep by planning for it in the following ways:
- Establish a non-negotiable time to be in bed and lights out on your regular days of work. On weekends and holidays your time may vary a bit but not much.
- Be mindful of what you eat in the evening hours. Eating a heavy or spicy meal can create havoc with your stomach all night long.
- Be careful with wine which may put you to sleep faster but because of the sugar content may also wake you up in the early morning hours.
- Plan a bedtime routine that relaxes your mind and your body – a relaxing bath and a good novel are my favorites – start the routine 30-45 minutes ahead of “lights out”.
- Establish a solid cut-off time for all electronics including iPads and iPhones. And by all means, don’t look at any work email! Your brain will go into work mode instantly, making sleep very difficult as your mind starts whirling around your “to do” list.
- Think . . . let go of today knowing that you did the best you could and in the new day you will bring greater clarity of thought, more energy and an uptake of optimism – you have what it takes to tackle all the challenges and opportunities that will come your way.
- Finally, say to yourself three things that went well that day. This is Martin Seligman’s “What Went Well” exercise from his book, Flourish, 2011. In this way, you place your brain into a space of abundance rather than scarcity. It’s amazing how powerful that simple brain exercise puts you right to sleep!