Matteo Franceschetti, the founder and CEO of Eight Sleep, discusses the importance of sleep in boosting productivity, brain function, and performance
Many people believe that running a business is a nightmare for your sleep. Think about it—the frequent travel, jet lag, and long work hours can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. However, this is not always the case. As an entrepreneur, I’ve found that quality sleep is a critical component of my company’s success. Like many founders, I have learned to prioritize sleep. It’s not good to always be on. You need to turn off once in awhile—at least for seven to eight hours.
Most successful people swear by sleep. Prominent business executives like Jeff Bezos, Jack Dorsey, and Tim Cook are sleeping a healthy amount, at an average of 7 hours or more a night. They’ve realized the importance of sleep in boosting productivity, brain function, and performance. Functioning on little sleep inhibits our decision-making, creative thinking, memory, and reaction time.
Sleeping better doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time to understand your body’s needs and discover what helps. The truth is, I haven’t always been a sleep-advocate. I used to want to find a way to sleep less so I could work more. I also suffer from restless leg syndrome, which makes sleep very difficult for me. Sleep became a battle that I wasn’t winning. In order to fix my sleep problems, I needed to change the way I thought about sleep. After months of research, I learned there are ways to prioritize sleep without feeling like I was wasting time. Soon after, I built a company dedicated to helping people optimize sleep. Sleep was no longer a challenge, but an opportunity to rest and recharge for the next day. In time, I learned that you may not need a full eight hours to feel your best. The exact amount of hours varies from person to person. It’s all about the quality of sleep. Sleep, like any other activity in life, needs to be prepared properly to reap all the benefits. There are a lot of things you can do to your bedtime routine to optimize sleep.
In just a few years, my sleep has improved drastically. Below I’ll tell you some of my secrets.
1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
The most important thing is to wake up at the same time every morning, no matter what time you go to bed. You have to be diligent and commit to a schedule, even on weekends. I typically wake up at 6 AM. And when I travel to the West Coast for meetings, I wake up at 3 AM to keep my body’s internal clock on track. This will help me once I get back to NYC to wake up at 6am without feeling tired. If you feel particularly exhausted by the work week, you can try to wake up 30-45 minutes later one of the two days of the weekend. This will give you a sense of more rest and like if you are treating yourself better and boost your mood. Just few minutes more can make a huge difference in how you feel.
2. Pay attention to health and nutrition
Exercise and a healthy diet are essential for good sleep. The foods we eat and when we eat affect sleep. Sugar, caffeine, and greasy foods can sabotage your sleep, as can eating late at night. I won’t give up coffee, and I usually have three espressos ranging from 6am to 2pm. Then I stop drinking it. I also recently switched to the Keto Diet and within a week, I felt more energized. Having lighter dinners helps me sleep better and wake up feeling lighter and more energized. It’s also recommended to finish eating dinner at least two hours before bed. This gives you time to digest and sleep more comfortably. Exercise is another key component of sleeping well. I go to the gym in the mornings, which helps me feel more alert during the day. Even if I am in a rush or traveling, I have a set of basic exercises, including stretching and few yoga positions, which help wake up my body. In the past, I used to go for a run at night to deal with my restless legs. That actually made falling asleep even harder because it was reactivating my body and increase my body temperature. Now that I exercise in the morning, my restless leg syndrome has reduced quite noticeably.
3. Optimize your bedroom
Create a sleep-friendly bedroom to ensure your drift off easily and wake up pleasantly. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. When we fall asleep, our bodies naturally cool off. By keeping your bedroom cold, you’ll help your body get to that lower temperature faster. In the fall and winter, I use my Eight bed warming. It keeps my extremities cozy at first so I can fall asleep faster. I put the bed warming on a timer, so that it turns off an hour into my sleep. A dark and quiet room is also ideal sleep. I use blackout curtains to block any outside light and acoustic panels to offset any noise from the NYC nightlife. I also use a scent diffuser to create a relaxing aroma in the bedroom before going to bed. This can help you destress before bed and signals your mind to disconnect. In addition, I rely a ton on my smart lights. I switch to orange light a couple hours before going to bed. Orange light is the least disruptive to our circadian rhythms, whereas harsh blue light from our phones and TVs stimulates the brain.
4. Take care of your body
Stress and lack of sleep can take an unforgiving toll on your body. Make time for self-care. On the weekends, get a massage or go to the sauna. There are also plenty of natural hacks you can try to feel more refreshed and rejuvenated. In order to maximize my output at work, I need to be as healthy and energized as possible. I usually take energy supplements in the morning to boost my productivity. Once or twice per month I do cryotherapy, which increases blood flow, releases feel-good endorphins, and reduces pain and inflammation. I’ve noticed that these effects have indirectly improved my sleep.
Being a founder can be incredibly stressful. When we’re in key moments of growth and fundraising, it can be hard to stop my mind from racing. When this happens, I try to get out of bed and meditate. Even just a few deep breaths can put my thoughts to rest. The worst thing you can do is lay in bed and hope to fall asleep. During normal business periods, I try to stop working at least 30 minutes before bed. It’s important to relax and calm down before going to sleep. I also try to think about all the great things I accomplished during the day. Sometimes we don’t notice how much we achieve in a day. Meditation helps me clear my mind and I wake up feeling more focused and sharper the next day.
Technology is the answer to solving several of our sleep problems. There are so many awesome products out there that can enhance the overall sleep experience. I love to connect my Philips Hue lights to my Eight so when my alarm goes off, lights go on to wake me up. I used to struggle to get out of bed but this makes it so much better. Another product I use are orange glasses. These blue-light blocking glasses protect my eyes when I work in the evening and help me fall asleep. I also use my Eight Smart Alarm to wake me up at my lightest stage of sleep, so I feel refreshed not groggy. Technology is the future of sleep, and we need to embrace it in our bedrooms to ultimately sleep better.
Matteo is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Eight (formerly known as Luna), a proprietary technology reinventing the way people sleep. Eight graduated from Y Combinator in the summer 2015 and from Stanford’s StartX program in May 2015. Prior to Eight, Matteo co-founded and led two clean-tech companies – Global Investment Renewable in the US and Global Investment in the Europe. The companies were acquired in 2014 and 2012, respectively. Matteo is a Co-Chair at FWD.us, a non-profit organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to advocate for immigration reform in the US. He has been a Mentor at Techstars, Microsoft Bizpark and the NYU Summer Launchpad Program. He continues to actively mentor and invest in early stage startups in the tech space.
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This content was originally published here.
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