As someone with entrepreneurial dreams, full time working mum of two, currently still breastfeeding my baby, sleep is low on availability in my life. Ever since I was pregnant with my daughter in 2008, I think I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have gotten more than seven uninterrupted hours of sleep.
At the moment working a 40 hour week at my job, breastfeeding and juggling hundred ideas for new businesses and other things is really impacting on my sleep or lack of it even further.
Now don’t get me started on the fact that I have access to my work emails on my iPad and my iPhone which means that separating the work life from my personal life is quite difficult.
I went to the ENT doctor in December because I was scared I was seriously ill. I have been having colds for the last one year back to back almost uninterrupted and a perpetual sore throat. I survive on vitamin C. After the doctor asked me a few questions, she was like “you are exhausted; you need to take some time off and put your feet up and just rest”.
So I am making it my goal to rediscover how to wind down and relax.
I find that I am having information overload, I am overtired and have been unable to focus properly recently. I am tired and distracted and even when I have a chance to rest, I don’t. Like right now. My DH took the kids to his parents so I could get some sleep. But do you think I napped for even 5 minutes?
I know this is self-destructive and I am on a mission to recondition my life and develop a much healthier relationship with sleep. I don’t want to have a stroke at 40 or develop Alzheimer’s because I was too stressed out mainly because of extremely poor sleeping habits.
Sleep is really important for regeneration and also for our health. It is extremely important for good mental function.
Here are some tips on sleeping better culled from the article on entrepreneural insomnia from Peterhallard.com
1. Re-evaluate your relationship with caffeine
If this wonder drug is your preferred entrepreneurial productivity tool, it could be massively contributing to insomnia issues. Even if you’re not drinking coffee in the afternoons and evenings (if you are, stop), the withdrawal symptoms you experience while you’re sleeping at night can result in teeth grinding and all kinds of nasties.
2. Check what you’re eating before bed
I can’t not mention this, even though I’m supposed to be psychologically focused. If you’re eating high sugar foods before bed, you’re going to give yourself a sugar rush that’ll mean you toss and turn longer than you should be. Cut the sugary snacks and try good-fats and protein (hard boiled eggs work great) if you need to eat near bed time.
Emotional state (sleep included) is far more connected to nutrition than any of us like to admit.
3. Leave the iPhone in another room
Smartphones are simultaneously the best ever and worst things to happen to our productivity. Just because you can check email and basically every component of your business as you’re dozing off doesn’t mean you should. Doing so is likely to activate several conditioned responses in the Pavlovian sense. Best case, you’ll start having great ideas to implement tomorrow. Worst case, you’ll start stressing out about whatever bad news your company is wrestling with right now.
Solution: Keep your smartphone’s charger plugged in, in another room. Switch it off.
4. Find a way to record last minute “OMG-DO-NOT-FORGET-THIS” thoughts
You’re a juggling mum, so you’re juggling about 150 ideas of things you should and could be doing to make your family and work better. Naturally, your unconscious mind is going to throw up “reminders” in the form of bed time epiphanies. And, these will be some of the best ideas you ever have.
The secret is to keep a notebook beside your bed. When you can’t sleep because of good idea overload, just write stuff down until there’s literally nothing on your mind that isn’t on the page. Works for anxiety-inducing ideas too.
5. Wind down before bed
Transitioning from furious emailing straight to bed is stupid. “Sleep” and “Business” are two very different train tracks and your unconscious mind needs time and space to switch between the two. For the sake of your business’s bottom line, you need to schedule 2 hours or more of work-free relaxation before bed.
Tips for serious players: Start dimming the lights 45 mins before bed. Switch off all electronics at the 30 minute mark. Talk to your family. Read fiction.
6. Make your bed a dedicated sleep/sex temple
Do not desecrate your bed by using your laptop, watching TV or carrying out any other task besides those it was built for. Not even in the morning. If you’re really smart, you won’t even permit reading in bed.
The reasons aren’t even remotely spiritual. When you use your bed exclusively for sleep, you powerfully and deeply condition your mind to anticipate sleep when you find yourself there. In the same way police sirens evoke vague feelings of guilt in your heart, your bed will start to actually induce drowsiness. It’s Pavlov at work again.
If this strategy works too well, you might find yourself falling asleep at the penultimate moment of a hot date. Not to worry – simply utilize any number of other horizontal surfaces in your home and solidify your reputation as a fun loving individual.
7. Invest in quality equipment
You’re an entrepreneur, so your time is precious. Not only are you spending a third of your life in bed, the quality of your experience there determines your bottom-line output the rest of the day. So optimize your experience.
It’s not a business expense that the tax man will understand, but a fantastic mattress will pay a productivity dividend that is undeniable. If you need to experience it to believe it, book a night at a Four Seasons – home of the world’s greatest mattress – and prepare to float away on cloud of sweet dreams and comfort. A firestorm of business achievement will follow. Don’t skimp on this stuff.
8. Schedule your day to allow for a bit of morning flexibility
If you’re suffering from serious insomnia, this is an important one. Many people believe a rigid sleep schedule is important – that you must make yourself get up consistently, bright and early. However, if you’re wrestling with serious insomnia it’s likely that a good portion of the anxiety keeping you awake is centered on the fear that you won’t be well rested enough for that 8am appointment.
So for at least a few weeks, trial this: Avoid commitments earlier than 10 or 11am. Allow yourself a window to sleep in if you need to. Get out of the habit of stressing about having to wake up early, on top of worrying about whatever you’re worrying about. Once your sleep gets better, start setting your alarm earlier.
9. Allow yourself to think
Most people with a history of troubled sleep grow to be extremely hard on themselves when they hit the hay. Have you caught yourself groaning and cursing when you lie down and immediately explode with thoughts?
Chances are, you’ve probably lost track of what normal a normal falling asleep experience actually feels like. And you’re probably placing massive, unrealistic expectations on yourself. Duh, you’re an entrepreneur.
That’s why the final tip is to ease up on yourself. If you’ve got a bad track record of sleep, you’re probably getting unnecessarily angry at yourself far too quick. In a terrible spiral, your instant “not-another-shitty-night” realization is probably half the problem.
Instead of beating yourself up about thinking too much, do the opposite: Systematically think through your day, aiming to recall each and every detail.
10. Pray and meditate
Praying for me is focusing on God and remembering my place and importance in the whole scheme of things. That keeps me grounded. Prayer and meditation on the word of God causes relaxation and helps me plug myself into Gods plan and purpose. Ask God to help you sleep better.
Do you also struggle with sleep? Or have you managed to improve your sleeping habits? Please leave a comment sharing your tips and struggles and let’s support each other.
*BYOD – bring you own device
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