THE IMPORTANCE OF REST FOR TRADERS
They say that the markets never sleep and, while there may well be a big grain of truth in this particular old adage, it certainly should not apply to FX traders… at least, those FX traders who actually want to make a successful career for themselves.
We spend a third of our lives asleep or thereabouts and, while it might well seem like it’s a bit of a waste of time when you could be out there earning yourself some cold hard cash in trading pairs, rest assured that sleep is absolutely essential if you want to remain clearheaded enough to make the best decisions for you and your portfolio.
As a first-time trader, it might be advisable for you to stick to short session day trading so you can get your eight hours a night and really get to grips with what trading is all about.
Once you’ve grown in confidence and have a better idea of what’s involved, you can think about night trading, as well… and this is when you’ll really need to prioritise a proper sleep routine, or your trades could start to suffer.
One trap that people often fall into is thinking that they’ll just go without sleep and it will all be fine. But when has going without sleep for a prolonged period ever yielded any kind of positive results?
You need to be sharp and alert to trade and lack of sleep can really get in the way of this, not to mention all the other detrimental health impacts associated with insufficient rest.
What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
We all know how to lead a healthy lifestyle… get consistently good sleep, follow a well-balanced diet and get regular exercise. But, of course, hitting all three of these goals is often easier said than done and all sorts of different factors can affect our sleep quality, which can have serious repercussions if we’re not careful.
In the short term, sleep deprivation can lead to lack of alertness (not good for traders!), sleepiness during the day, poor memory and other cognitive processes, moodiness, increased stress levels, inability to deal with stress and so on.
None of this will help you hit your trading goals, so if you’ve been wondering why you’re not doing as well as you thought you would, maybe it’s time to hit the hay!
As for your long-term health, sleep deprivation is associated with all sorts of dangerous health conditions, everything from high blood pressure and diabetes to stroke, heart failure, heart attacks, obesity, depression and suppressed immune system function.
So, as well as making sure that you do your best as a trader, getting good-quality sleep will also help you lead a healthier life overall. It’s a win-win for all.
With all this being said, what can be done to help make sure you can strike the right balance between getting your beauty sleep and following your trading strategy to the letter? Here are some top tips.
Practise good sleep hygiene
Clean sleeping is where it’s at and, while it might sound strange, it’s not that tricky to achieve. Once you’ve made a few adjustments and put them into practice for a few weeks, they’ll become second nature and you won’t even think about it.
Sleep hygiene or clean sleeping simply means following good sleep habits – and consistency is key in this regard.
So, make sure that you’re going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, whether it’s on a weekday or at the weekend. Your bedroom needs to be quiet and dark, preferably without any distracting devices in there, like your smartphone, TV or computer.
Your caffeine intake is also something to make note of. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks before bed (preferably not after midday), or you could find you have disturbed sleep. The same goes for alcohol… only you know what your vices are and only you can do something about it. It’s simply a matter of deciding what’s most important!
Take your trading strategy into account
It’s easy for non-traders to get into a good routine when it comes to sleep, but the trading profession is 24/7 and, of course, you’re going to want to capitalise on this as and when you can… which is why traders often suffer in the sleep department.
When it comes to creating your own sleep routine and schedule, think about your trading strategy and come up with a schedule that you can maintain consistently. Sleep should form a key part of the strategy you devise, so work out what your ideal market hours are and then build your bedtime routine from there.
Embrace the power nap!
Naps aren’t just for little children, you know. Adults can also benefit from a quick snooze here and there during the day and, in fact, power naps can even help you sleep better at night, so you could really do yourself a big favour if you do indulge from time to time.
Taking short power naps can bring all sorts of benefits with them, although it’s important to make sure you don’t sleep for too long, or you could wake up feeling a little on the drowsy side. Anything between 20 and 30 minutes should be fine for a catnap, helping you take advantage of all the benefits of sleep, without any potential grogginess.
A little nap during the day can help drive improvements in your mood, your alertness, your short-term memory, your focus and concentration… if you are starting to feel frustrated with your trading and feel as though your performance is dipping, it might be time to go and catch yourself some 40 winks.
Still don’t believe us? Have a read of Sara Mednick’s book Take a Nap! Change Your Life: The Scientific Plan to Make You Smarter, Healthier, More Productive.
Other traders have found this programme to be an effective way of fighting fatigue. The book explains the five stages of sleep and what the benefits of each one are, as well as revealing how to assess your tiredness and devise your own sleep profile.
It comes with a Nap Wheel on the cover of the book, as well as graphs and charts, to help you work out when your optimum nap time is and how long you should be napping for. You can even use it to design your naps to help you in certain areas, such as creativity or even improving your memory.
Set up trading alerts
Living in the digital age brings with it all sorts of amazing advantages – and, for traders, trading alerts has to be one of the biggest of them all. You can set yourself up with trading alerts that use artificial intelligence to provide you with market insights, trade opportunities, market news and price alerts.
What this means is that you’re then able to get some quality rest without having to worry that you’re going to miss out on anything. Alerts help to free up your time a little, so you don’t have to spend hours trawling through the economic news to see what’s coming up. Just let technology do all the hard work for you so you can get the sleep you need!
Eat your way to sleep success!
If you’re struggling with trading-related insomnia and find that you can’t get good-quality sleep if you have trades open at night, why not try eating different foods that can supposedly promote better rest.
Kiwi is just one fruit that could potentially help you with your sleep, full of all sorts of amazing vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and E, as well as folate and potassium. A recent study even found that eating two kiwis an hour before going to bed helps you fall asleep faster, as well as getting more sleep and enjoying better sleep quality.
Or what about having a nice glass of milk before bed? Milk contains tryptophan and melatonin, which both help you fall asleep and ensure you get a good night’s sleep, so this could be a great habit to get into if you are struggling with your sleep right now.
If you’re not keen on the idea of milk at bedtime, chamomile tea could have similar effects. Chamomile has apigenin in it, which is an antioxidant that binds receptors in the brain that have been found to potentially promote sleepiness and help reduce insomnia.
So there you have it!
As you can see, successful trading is all about a successful sleep routine as much as it’s about coming up with a winning strategy. We hope these tips help you nod off at night and that you start seeing the wins you’ve worked so hard for soon.
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