How to Sleep Your Way to the Top

How to Sleep Your Way to the Top

So how’re you sleeping these days?

If you’re like many freelancers, you’re probably not sleeping well at all. That is, when you sleep, because chances are you’re cutting corners all over the place to make ends meet.

Admitting that your sleep patterns are all screwed up and that you can’t hack it? Wow, you’d never admit that to friends, colleagues, family, clients or peers – unless it’s in a back-room whisper during a private conversation. You feel like you’re sharing a shameful secret.

We’re supposed to be able to handle it. We’re tough. We’re freelancers. Too much work and not enough hours? No problem. Our ability to produce creative quality on just five hours sleep is a badge of honour that’s applauded and lauded! Hurray for us!

Yeah, no. Kind of stupid, don’t you think?

To be honest, I’ve only recently come to regard sleep as a priority. For years I’ve burned candles at both ends, worked crazy days that began early and finished late, and slogged through midday sleepiness knowing it’d pass as soon as I caught my second wind.

Then there was that day I fell asleep working at my desk. One minute I was staring at my screen feeling so exhausted I could barely see straight, and the next I’d smacked my head hard on the desk after nodding off.

(Yes, it hurt. And stop grinning at me. Sheesh.)

I’m not the only one who’s lost the sleep battle either. Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post once passed out from exhaustion – she broke her cheekbone and ended up with five stitches. Ow.

The problem is that we freelancers all know healthy sleep habits are good for us. We’ve heard the news, read the info and bought the book. We’re not stupid. There’s advice all over the place about what to do to get the recommended 8.25 hours of sleep – most of it begins with, “Go to bed.”

But many freelancers just don’t follow that oh-so-simple-and-sage advice. There’s work to do. And pushing through fatigue is a hallmark of productivity, a sign of stamina, of strength, of glorious stubborn determination to reach success.

We’re awesome! Sleep? Who needs it?!

Um, moment of truth here, people: You do.

When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re short-changing yourself badly, not only in productivity but in many other areas that contribute to great work. Check out these fast examples:

  • You’ll make mistakes. It only takes a few seconds to curse under your breath and fix the little ones, sure, but those wasted moments add up to big costs over the year. And you might make a big mistake one day that costs you a lot, like deleting a critical file by accident.
  • Your positive outlook, your attitude, and your customer service takes a hit. It’s easier to get frustrated or discouraged when you’re lacking snooze-time, and you might find yourself struggling for creative ideas or feeling snappish with clients – the guys who pay your bills, remember?
  • Decision-making becomes more difficult, and you’re not going to make the best, smartest choices for your business success. Or you’ll spend too much time on a task and neglect a more important one, because it takes more energy than you have available.

This is just a taste of some ways lack of proper sleep habits can derail your freelance career. There are far more negative effects, and if you’re interested in just how many side effects there are from lack of sleep, go ahead and Google up “sleep deprivation”.

It’s scary.

It took me a hard head-smacking to realize that I produced much better work when I wasn’t tired and had the right amount of sleep. I worked faster, with more creativity, and I focused much easier, zinging through my workday. I got twice as much work done, in fact, if not more.

But don’t take my word for it. Test the theory. Take the challenge. Tell yourself, “Yes, I want to produce my best damned work ever and stun clients with my fantasticness because I am just that dedicated and awesome to do what it takes to make superstar success happen.”

Or something like that. Whatever works for you.

But try, is the point. Not a half-assed effort, either. Make a serious, firm resolution to get a full night’s rest – come hell or high water, every night, without fail, for a month. Set a curfew and stick to it. You can do that, right? It’s just 30 days.

Doesn’t work? Hate it? Go back to your old habits, by all means.

Maybe, though… just maybe… You’ll find that something’s different.

You feel better. Your work is changing, a little sharper and more creative. You’re getting through tasks faster. And enjoying them more. Things are getting done, and you feel more on top of your game.

Because you need to be on top of your game. You need to be rocking the world, producing brilliant stuff that makes jaws drop – and by that I don’t mean your own. No one ever looked brilliant falling asleep with their jaw hanging open.

Who’s in? Are you up for it?

Originally posted at The Web Squeeze

Just in case you didn't read the book on kicking your sleep problems to the curb or need some extra help smashing those insomniac habits, check out A Good Night's Sleep by the serious pros over at Harvard Medical School.

If anyone can get you sleeping your way to success, they can.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.