WASHINGTON: Just 10 minutes of daily mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, can help entrepreneurs replenish their energy when they can not afford the time for adequate sleep, scientists say.
Entrepreneurship can be exhilarating, but it also can be difficult, stressful and tiring work.
"You can't replace sleep with mindfulness exercises, but they might help compensate and provide a degree of relief," said Charles Murnieks, an assistant professor at Oregon State University in the US.
"As little as 70 minutes a week, or 10 minutes a day, of mindfulness practice may have the same benefits as an extra 44 minutes of sleep a night," Murnieks said.
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The research, published in the Journal of Business Venturing, explore ways entrepreneurs deal with the exhaustion that comes with the work Generally, when people are feeling exhausted, their drive to achieve goals is lowered, they have less desire to complete work tasks and they may find it harder to rise to and address challenges, all of which are important processes of entrepreneurship.
Exhaustion is a pervasive problem for entrepreneurs working on new ventures, but there is little existing research exploring the levels of exhaustion experienced by this group or how they handle it.
In a study of 105 entrepreneurs from around the US, the researchers asked participants about their exhaustion levels; whether they engaged in mindfulness practices and if so, how often and for how long; and how many hours they slept each night.
More than 40 per cent of the participants reported working 50 hours per week or more, on average, and sleeping less than 6 hours a night.
The researchers found that the entrepreneurs who slept more, or who engaged in the highest levels of mindfulness exercises, reported lower levels of exhaustion.
In a second study of 329 entrepreneurs, the researchers again asked about mindfulness practice, perceived exhaustion and sleep.
Researchers found that mindfulness can combat feelings of exhaustion.
However, in both studies, the team also found that mindfulness exercises are less helpful if you are getting adequate sleep but still feeling exhausted.
When someone is experiencing perceived exhaustion, they are typically feeling a lack of energy at work and as though their resources are depleted.
"If you're feeling stressed and not sleeping, you can compensate with mindfulness exercises to a point. But when you're not low on sleep, mindfulness doesn't improve those feelings of exhaustion," Murnieks said.
Mindfulness exercises and sleep are thought to work differently to reduce exhaustion.
Mindfulness works to modify and reduce stressors before they lead to exhaustion, while sleep works to replenish energy and self-control after the depletion has occurred, but before exhaustion is felt.
More research is needed to better understand how mindfulness exercises may help weary entrepreneurs and the limits of those beneficial effects, Murnieks said, but there is indication mindfulness can provide a boost.