Why is sleep important for entrepreneurs?
Two years ago, I was barely hanging on.
Eight months earlier, I had left my job in the public school system as a Speech Pathologist to open my own practice. After years of feeling like I had no control over my daily schedule and no time to take care of myself, I was done. I set out to be my own boss and have the freedom to build the life that I wanted. I wanted a life that felt spacious and allowed time to take care of myself.
Fast forward to the spring of 2018… I had gone from one client in September 2017 to 40+ clients a week by April 2018. I went from $0 in my business bank account to making $15k/month. Looking at the numbers, I had exceeded the goals I had set for myself just a few months before…but at what expense?
I was exhausted. I had gained 40 pounds. I was staying up late and getting up early being ALL of the things in my business. The accountant, the marketer, the scheduler, the janitor, and the provider. I had always made showing up for my kids’ events a priority. School plays, science fairs, field trips. But, I started missing out on those. Looking back, I can’t believe I let that happen. To me, showing up for your kids is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!
I hit a breaking point. My body gave up. I had a flare up of a yet to be diagnosed autoimmune-ish issue that I’d had several times since my sophomore year of college. I wish I could say that made me pause and look at the choices I was making. It wasn’t. I continued to sacrifice my body at the altar of my business.
Then, my seven year old got sick. Really sick. She turned grey. She had random bouts of vomiting, fever, and slept all of the time. For about a week we thought she just had a weird virus, you know, because first graders are petri dishes. The fevers and vomiting would come and then go away for just enough time to think she was getting better and then it would start all over again. At the end of 4 weeks, she’d lost 10% of her body weight. My bubbly, energetic, happy kid was disappearing before my eyes. Several visits to the doctor, children’s hospital, a leukemia scare, more vomiting, and we ended up on autoimmune. To this day, they have not figured out which autoimmune disease it is. We were told, “There’s nothing we can do right now. We have to wait and see.”
This was not okay with us. We headed back to her GP who told us to eliminate gluten and dairy. We did so as a family and almost immediately saw a difference in her. She slowly came back to life. She was healing.
When the acute crisis was over, I had to stop and take a look at the life I’d created. Too much work, not taking care of myself, and general dis-ease plagued me. I was modeling that lifestyle for my kids. Kids watch. They watch us for answers to their questions. “How should I live? What is important? What do I need to do to be loved?” I was answering with, “You earn love by achieving. More money, more titles, more things on the to-do list. To achieve, you need to sacrifice yourself.” How strange that at six years old, my daughter’s little body was the one suffering the consequences of the example that I had set.
Over the next few months, we changed our diets and I started creating boundaries around my work. I hired another therapist so that I could transition the majority of my caseload to her and focus just on the business building, a transition I was more than ready for. As a family we continued eating gluten and dairy free. I felt better. I knew I was headed in the right direction. But, I still woke up every morning exhausted.
I set out to overhaul my sleep. I’d been in a dysfunctional, committed, long-term relationship with sleep for the majority of my life.
After several months of making sleep my number one priority, I looked around one day and realized just how differently I was experiencing life. It was like when someone loses weight. The people who spend time with them daily don’t necessarily notice the small day to day changes. But when you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time, you see a huge difference.
As my sleep improved, I was able to wake up with a clear, creative mind. My ability to prioritize, follow-through, take-in information, and execute was drastically different. I experienced more joy and a feeling of spaciousness in my life. I had more fun with my kids and my husband. Life was just… better.
Most often when we talk about sleep, people will say things like, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” or “I should have gone to bed earlier.” or “I couldn’t get to sleep.” or “Get more sleep.”… but how, why, when? Why isn’t this explicitly taught in school? We tell people to get more sleep and leave them to figure out the rest.
What if there was one thing we could do that would make EVERYTHING else in our lives easier? We spend thousands of dollars on business courses, systems, productivity hacks. What if FIRST, we focused on one thing that could help us use those resources to the best of our abilities? One thing that has the potential to transform our businesses and our lives.
My mission is to empower women to prioritize and improve their sleep experience as the foundation for transforming their business and their lives. In this blog, I hope to provide practical steps, support, and problem solving for those struggling with sleep.