If you begin each day bleary-eyed and reaching for a 20-ounce caffeine fix, it may be time to rethink what you eat and how you sleep and how those habits affect your business. By caffeine-loading after getting just a few hours of shuteye, you're not doing your body—or your business—any good.
"Coffee is a negative return on investment," says Nicole Wright, an author, speaker and serial entrepreneur who founded two companies that focus on health and wellness. "It boosts people up before they crash and creates dehydration, which is a further negative."
Instead of that morning cup of joe, Wright recommends a warm, caffeine-free beverage or a dose of L-Tyrosine, a supplement that's been reported to promote mental alertness and relieve stress. "It's the amino acid that plugs into the brain's caffeine receptor so what you get is all up and no crash," Wright says.
You Are What You Eat
It's not just coffee or other caffeinated beverages that should be on your list of "don't touch" foods. Wright believes the best entrepreneurs are very aware of how their daily diet affects how they feel and how they work. She refers to being conscious of what you consume and choosing wisely as "nourishing the brain."
"Deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and amino acids produce an array of issues that range from cravings to severe neurological disorders," Wright says. "I recommend an assessment to determine shortages, followed by high-dose vitamin therapy. Once the brain is full and happy, dietary changes to sustain nourishment are easy."
No matter how busy you are, don't forget to eat. "Eat nutrient-dense food frequently, no less than once every four hours to keep glucose, which is your brain's fuel, stable," Wright says. "When the brain feels foggy, it's glucose-deprived. It's ill-advised to let your body get to that point."
Wright also advises entrepreneurs who want to be their most productive every day to drink plenty of water. As she explains, "Feeling tired and hungry are also symptoms of dehydration."
Getting Your 40 Winks
But it takes more than consuming the right foods and beverages for an entrepreneur to successfully power through each day, Wright believes. "Sleep is critical for processing and restoration," she says. "The body physically heals while we sleep. Sleep also helps to regulate metabolism and produces dreams, which are required for healthy cognition."
But Wright says a solid eight hours a night may not be the ideal sleep schedule for everyone.
"Mastering sleep is a useful skill and one that leaders utilize," Wright says. "Polyphasic sleep refers to sleepng multiple times throughout the day. Think 15- to 30-minute naps every four hours. DaVinci, Jefferson, Edison and many other great minds were reported to be polyphasic sleepers."
When it comes to her own work and sleep patterns, Wright says she usually varies her rest cycle to feel her best. "When I'm on a project, it's fun to cater to a sleep rhythm," Wright says. "Sometimes it's two two-hour naps per day."
How do you determine what sleep pattern fuels a strong workday for you? Wright says it begins by allowing your body to find a natural waking and sleeping pattern. "Get rid of your alarm clock," Wright suggests. "Learn your circadian rhythm, and and set cycles that work for your inherent biology. Sleep cycles must be empowering and invigorating."
Paying attention to your body—-the food and drink that goes into it and the sleep that rejuvenates it—-could mean the difference between running a business and running a business really well. Hydrating with non-caffeinated beverages, eating healthy food every day and letting your body dictate the amount and frequency of sleep it needs will help you meet the world head on every day with a clear mind and energy that can't be stopped.
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