Creative visualization? Long hours of study and practice? Networking? Though they each have their place, what will actually help you create the best possible future for yourself is that simple, yet oh so elusive holy grail, known as adequate sleep.
Being able to think clearly -- overrated?
Being able to accurately use emotional intelligence to read social cues -- meh?
Moving through your day with joy and enthusiasm -- whatever?
Heightened intuition allowing you to tap into new ideas before others and bring new products to market first -- bah humbug?
These are just a few of the elements of a successful life that you're missing out on if you've been short-changing your sleep routine.
That's not to mention the physical price you are on track to pay. Increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke is directly attributed to sleep deprivation.
The challenge to get enough sleep can be especially pronounced for mothers with young children.
Mother of four, Amber Boswell of Yoga Pants CEO had this to say about the challenges of balancing motherhood, self-employment and the body's need to sleep in order to be at her best for any of it:
"As a mamapreneur of four, two teens and two tots, I must constantly have my wits about me, or emails meant for my husband about dance lessons will accidentally get sent to a client; my son will end up wearing his older sister's bright pink shirt; and I will spend a minimum of 20 minutes searching for my keys before taking them to school.
Sleep is a hot commodity to a mother, especially when she is concurrently building a brand and running a home. I find when I have not had at least 7-8 hours of sleep I am more likely to be overwhelmed, flustered, and not present in my business or for my family."
Coach Beth Martens shares, "For the better part of a decade I was mysteriously unable to sleep, and after the birth of my son in 2007 I went on medication full-time to just survive my infant. The sleeplessness caused my immune system to crash many times, put undue stress on mothering, and despite learning to live without sleep, I was in constant misery for lack of clarity."
Sleep Your Way to the Life You Want
The life you most want is achieved by being more fully present, with access to more of your natural ability, for more of your day. It isn't about how many hours you're awake. It's about how many hours you're making the most of -- and sleep is required to be at your best.
How many opportunities have you missed out on simply because you zigged when you needed to zag? When you didn't read the cue that someone was wanting to help you and waiting for you to ask? When you didn't do the best work you could do, so were passed up for a promotion, with no one knowing your potential?
Have I convinced you that you really do want to be sleeping more, and that rather than wasting time and undermining your success, it will actually be helping you get ahead? I hope so.
The question then becomes, what makes it hard for me to get the sleep my body needs and what do I do to overcome those obstacles?
Reasons for lack of sleep
The primary reasons for lack of sleep come down to 3 things:
- Demands of obligations to others, e.g., childrearing, job, business.
- Lifestyle patterns, e.g., drinking alcohol or caffeine in the evenings, not getting enough exercise or natural sunlight.
- Environmental factors, e.g., noise, electromagnetic sensitivity
Fortunately, there are solutions for each one of these challenges to healthy sleep.
Create Your 3-Step Sleep Power Plan
Step 1 -- Deal with your schedule!
Drop the belief that sacrificing your health on the pyre of service to others is somehow noble. It is short-sighted and counter-productive. Put it in your calendar to plan out your weekly schedule every Sunday evening after dinner. Sort out what needs to happen from what might be beneficial, but optional. Then make sure that anything that must be done can either be done by you in 16 waking hours each day or is getting done by someone else. If it doesn't have to happen at all, then skip it until time frees up somewhere else in your schedule.
Step 2 -- Create healthy habits
- Make sure you are including in your weekly schedule the time needed to exercise at least a little each day. Even just a 10-minute walk outdoors will contribute greatly toward your ability to rest well at night.
- Eliminate stimulating foods and beverages containing caffeine and alcohol, especially in the latter part of the day.
- Learn skills for self-mastery. At the non-profit Center for Releasing, Beth Martens learned skills that helped her turn her destructive sleep patterns around. I personally find meditation and positive thinking to be key parts of my day.
- Turn off your cell phone when you go to bed.
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- Take naps.
Step 3 -- Work with your environment
- Use earplugs to reduce noise or have a heart-to-heart talk with noisy neighbors.
- Turn off Wi-Fi at night and don't keep electronic devices plugged into the wall behind your head.
- If you can't get enough sun during the day to balance your circadian rhythms, take Liposomal Melatonin just before bed and spritz Magnesium oil on the bottoms of your feet.
By making a commitment to a healthy sleep plan that guides each week, you will be making a commitment to create the life of your dreams.