The Startup Sleep Paradox

Sleep, the ever-elusive essential ingredient to success. High Schoolers seem to find it fast and frequently. College crammers celebrate a certain aversion to the sacred evening ritual. But what happens when school is out and instead of A’s and B’s, you’re fighting for functionality and funding? What happens when you need startup sleep?

The startup world requires long, rigorous hours, and that means sacrificing certain sleep cycles. It also demands a mental dexterity and fully fueled creativity that require rest. Some weeks provide paltry sleep and some deadlines demand coffee or RedBull-fueled all nighters, but there are ways to improve and maximize what little sleep you can get. Here are a few sleep secrets  to keep you starting up and finishing strong.

Get Regular

This one is tricky, but the health benefits are palpable if you can pull it off. When possible, go to sleep at the same time. Science shows us that consistently going to bed at the same time provides a number of benefits, including reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, or sleep latency. There’s nothing worse than laying down for an abbreviated sleep cycle only to find yourself tossing and turning, wasting valuable sleep hours and losing work time. Finding a consistent time to hit the hay helps minimize sleep latency and maximize sleep time. Not only that, but consistent sleep time improves cognitive function, improves mood, increases metabolism, and protects against heart disease. If you’re looking to think clearer, smile bigger, burn more calories and keep your heart healthy, give it a shot.

Snooze? You Lose

The snooze button may be the most backhanded buddy sleep has ever known. Sure, it seems like those extra ten minutes make sleep all the better, but the long term effects of snoozing can damage your sleep cycle. Scientists have shown that hitting the snooze button damages the brains connection between stimulus (alarm) and response (waking up). This damage leads to sleep inertia, a drowsy state that can take up to four hours to clear. Sleep inertia worsens as the snooze pattern continues and the body reacts to the initial alarm by gearing up for another complete sleep cycle. That means that extra bit of beauty sleep can lead to a groggy and ineffective morning.

The Quintessential Coffee Nap

While truncated sleep isn’t the most ideal form of rest, the science behind power naps is promising. At The Cannon, our construction plans for the world’s largest coworking space include a napping quarters for sleep-starved startup founders and employees. Napping can boost your energy and save your day after a sleepless night, but there’s one key ingredient- coffee. Adenosine causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve activity in the brain. By binding to its receptors, Caffeine blocks the body’s production of Adenosine. Coffee’s effects begin to peak at 30 minutes after consumption, so by quickly drinking coffee and laying down for 15-20 minutes while it takes effect, you can minimize the adenosine/caffeine internal competition and wake up feeling relaxed, alert, and ready to conquer the rest of the day. Time it right, and the fusion of benefits from coffee and a quick nap can turn an afternoon struggle into the most productive time of your day.

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