Work Life

Do you Take Naps at Work?

— By Ingrid Johnson

In the recipe for success one often finds that the ingredient most needed is left out, or thought of as unimportant. The idea of rest is foreign to most busy small business owners, minority- and women-owned enterprises (MWBE) and inevitably often results in several types of physical issues.

Small businesses like women and minority owned business are seriously affected by sleep…or the lack of it. Sleeping the work day away can actually happen more often while at work and seemingly working than some may realize.

Lack of sleep will cause workers to mentally and physically “check out” several times during the day. Ever find a co-worker staring off into space or staring at something without really seeing it? This will happen a lot when someone is sleep-deprived. Why spend 30 or 40 minutes a day staring blindly at something that should be worked on when you can get an extra 30 or 40 minutes of sleep and be alert the entire day?

Five Major Personal Issues Related to Sleep Deprivation that Affecting Work
Most families of a MWBE or small business owners engulfed in the business world will be the first to point out how lack of sleep and over-fatigue at work affects the home life of these busy workers. The tie between personal issues and work issues makes both sides harder to handle. There are five major ‘personal’ issues that can take a toll at work and at home.

1. Inability to relax when not at work creates tension with families and friends.

2. Anxiety caused by lack of sleep and relaxation leads to the inability to concentrate at work or home.

3. Depression can invade personal time because without the proper rest and giving the body and mind the ability to recuperate, the body, emotions, and spirit are diminished. It is like trying to drive a car on empty.

4. Diminished mental sharpness when needed as working without the proper amount of recreation and rest also diminish the capacity for clear, calm thought processes. Imagine running a car or any machinery for months and years with no maintenance and down time. The body is a machine: Sleep equals down time, and recreation equals maintenance.

5. Physical collapse and/or illness. Most heart attacks take place on Mondays. Why is that? It is because the business and business problems get carried into personal times on the weekends and workers do not take the time to really rest. Work is constantly on the back burner and it needs to be turned off. Monday can be a day of refreshed work activity with a new, fresh perspective after a weekend of relaxation.

The Costs Associated with Lack of Rest
There is someone, somewhere, who could tally a actual dollar amount to these costs, but consider for a moment how these will affect mental and physical productivity.

• Emotions – Stress can bring about anger, hopelessness and helplessness. This affects every facet of the worker’s life including their family. Broken relationships, financial burdens of divorce and child support, costs of depression medication--the cash register is cha-chinging.

• Health – Stress causes health issues heap onto that poor eating habits. (fast food), body strain for physically demanding jobs, and the stress on the heart from all the above.

• Spiritual Connection – Missed gatherings of like-minded spiritual people, diminished friendship connections that feed the spiritual side of people, charitable work being set aside--all these things will contribute to lowered feelings of self-actualization.

What Sleep and Adequate Rest Does for the Human Body
Some of the important factors in getting proper rest are not as obvious as some may think. Some of them are optimal weight control, better blood sugar levels, improved blood pressure, and healthier hearts. Not getting enough rest can throw off metabolism, and can affect the body’s ability to manage glucose, causing insulin resistance.

Think of a proper sleep schedule as the easiest diet in the world. Proper rest will assist in ways that lack of sleep and a half-way decent diet cannot do alone.

Throw in adequate sleep and better eating habits and business owners and managers will find themselves in better health than when they started. And who can argue with the benefits of that?

The Sleep and Stress Connection
Lack of sleep can actually release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is known in the medical community as the stress hormone. Adding more sleep and rest will naturally diminish stress without a single thing changing elsewhere. Cortisol can weaken the immune system, cause memory loss, mood swings and depression. It impacts life expectancy.

Sufficient sleep will greatly affect in a positive way one’s well being to a much better quality of life all together.

How to Develop a Good Sleep Routine
Many stressed people have problems falling and/or staying asleep. That is why the sleeping pill pharmaceutical companies are making money hand over fist. Medication should be the last resort to dealing with sleep problems. Try these methods first.

• Change bedtime routines to promote better sleep. Do not use the last hour or two of the day to do hard exercise, watch stimulating television or movies, try to fix a difficult budget, work on taxes -- anything that is going to make the mind keep working long after the light has been turned off. Take the last hour or two of the day to read a book, something not too interesting or you won’t be able to put it down! If there is a hot tub, use it. Spend $40 on a massager to put into a favorite easy chair. Basically, turn the brain from working on problems to chilling out.

• Avoid eating or drinking something that affects sleep. Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar, caffeine, or carbs. Stay away from anything heavy or difficult to digest. Try a small glass of organic milk and some peanut butter on celery stalks. A small snack is good, a heavy meal is not. Also avoid alcohol. Some may mistakenly think that alcohol promotes sleep, but it actually interferes with sleep due to the sugar content causing an impact on metabolism that can cause one to wake up several times in the night.

• Use the bed for only sleeping. Avoid using the bed for reading, watching television, or other activities. Doing this will signal the body that when it gets into bed it is time to sleep.

Take a Mini-Siesta if Needed
Avoid taking long naps on a regular basis. However, on a particularly difficult day full of stress and fatigue, a “cat nap” might be just the thing needed to revive a stressed out and fatigued body and mind.

Do this by going to a very quiet restful area and set the phone or watch alarm for exactly 30 minutes. Even if one does not completely fall asleep in that 30 minutes, allowing the body to relax and turning off the brain for that amount of time will rejuvenate. Follow it with a brisk fifteen-minute walk and eight to sixteen ounces of filtered water; the results will be amazing.

Bottom Line
Rest will affect the bottom line of each and every business, but most especially small business owners, women and minority owned businesses, and sole proprietors. Avoid lack of growth and success simply because of poor sleep and rest. Take control of down time so that rest and relaxation and proper sleep bring about better productivity and creative thinking when it is needed most…at work.