5 ways you can “achieve” good sleep

Jan 23, 2017

By Rebecca Aptekar, PsyD


“The key to successful sleep is to learn how to turn our competitive tendencies off for the night.”

Engineers and other high tech employees know that working for a start-up means long hours and lost sleep. It’s unfortunate that sleep continues to get a bad rap as wasted time, even though good sleep is known to yield better work performance. But when high achievers do decide to attain sleep, oftentimes, their perfectionist tendencies sabotage their rest. That’s because sleep doesn’t function like other items that we can check off of our to-do lists.

Since we all know that good sleep is essential to good health, it’s important to learn how to sleep well. With so many obstacles to getting a good night’s sleep, what can an entrepreneur – or anyone – do to assure the achievement of enough rest for good functioning during the rest of the day?

Five steps to getting a good night’s sleep:

  1. Establish regular sleep and wake times, and sleep only when tired.  
    A set schedule is the single most reliable key to good sleep hygiene. It is ideal to go to bed at the same time every night and to wake via the same alarm every morning. No matter what, though, go to bed only when you’re tired. If you’ve laid in bed for 20 minutes and still aren’t asleep, get up, go somewhere else, and do something else until you’re tired enough to fall asleep. Did you do something stimulating just before bed, like exercising? That’s probably why you can’t sleep! So do things differently next time and wind down before bed.
  2. Protect your bed space from anything other than nighttime sleep and sex.
    Avoid eating or watching TV in bed, and never take your laptop, cell phone, or iPad to bed with you. You need rest from work, not to bring it to rest with you! Also, don’t use the bed as a place to resolve conflict with a partner or as a place to lie down while you try to solve a competitive business problem in your head. Anything that stimulates you while in bed is an enemy of your sleep.
  3. Don’t nap.  
    Napping will rob you of the exhaustion you may need in order to get a good night’s sleep.
  4. Stop struggling.  
    The more you struggle with sleep, the harder it is to get sleep. Clock-watching and worry that you’re not going to get enough sleep activates your brain’s arousal system such that your mind is too awake for your body to sleep. Challenge that mindset. Don’t watch the clock. Tell yourself that you’ve earned your rest. Having a positive attitude about sleep facilitates it.
  5. Use relaxation techniques if you continue to struggle with sleep.
    Some ideas include muscle relaxation exercises in which you tense then relax muscles all over your body. You also can use visualization of being at a place that calms you, like on a beach. Routines like warm baths before bed and drinking warm milk also can help. Alcohol may help you fall asleep and relax, but it can interfere with the quality of your sleep and often causes you to wake up throughout the night. Definitely limit your intake of caffeine close to bedtime.

Silicon Valley may have a sleep problem, but that doesn’t mean you have to have one. If sleep remains an issue for you, therapists at Lyra who specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia can help you to adjust your body and mind to where it can get better rest.


Lyra can connect you to a therapist to analyze your sleep patterns and develop a customized plan to improve your sleep. If Lyra is offered by your employer, you can get started today. Sign up now.

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DISCLAIMER: The  content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Rebecca Aptekar, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and other evidence based therapies. At Lyra, she manages clinical programs, develops content for workshops, and conducts therapy for high-tech employees.