Updated: Oct 29
Have you ever suffered from a good night’s sleep as you wrestle with a business problem which needs to be solved? In my own experience it always seems to be the 3.15 am internal alarm clock that wakes me up. In years gone by I have turned to my laptop as a sleep aid – answered emails, made a list, come up with a solution and then gone back into a deep sleep for a couple of hours. But this long-term solution had been going on for too long and I found I wasn’t bouncing back at 7.00 am when the proper alarm went off.
So, since the age of 55 I have been on a journey to get in touch with my own health – and figure out how I can improve my sleep going forward. When I was younger, I was definitely a sound 8 hours a night sleeper, but I have found that getting older means less sleep. The problem with this is you still have to run your business and trying to burn both ends of the candle is not sustainable.
So, here are some highlights from my journey which you may find useful in your own quest for a really good night’s sleep.
THE ANNUAL HEALTHCHECK | I have a full private medical once a year. I pay for it through a private GP. It costs about £200 and my blood test is thoroughly analyzed. The ROI is 100% - if I am in good form, I can continue to run my business. As with all data, data from an annual health check becomes part of a personal bio database. A change in the data can be picked up yearly and it may point to something more serious. This is how I manage my health and my husband’s health. I can’t afford to have a serious issue at the moment, and it relieves the anxiety of thinking something may be wrong.
The health check gives me everything I need to stay on track. I don’t wake up at night worrying about my health. My GP emails the results with a report on what we need to adjust or do. This year I discovered I have an underactive thyroid so now I take a pill for that every day. It’s not uncommon in women my age and I actually feel a lot better than I did a year ago.
TIP :1 - Get the best health check you can afford and take the advice.
ALCOHOL : I gave up drinking to the point of 1 unit a week – I buy a tiny bottle of wine or a can of G&T. If it’s not in the fridge I can’t drink it – and it saves a load of calories I don’t need. It helps that my husband hardly drinks. I wouldn’t say I have ever been a heavy drinker, but my body doesn’t like alcohol. It had been telling me that for years and I ignored the tell-tale signs. One glass of wine is about my limit. After that it’s a fuzzy head in the morning which upsets my sleep and I don’t have the time to deal with that!
TIP :2 - If you don’t need to keep alcohol in the house – don’t. Buy a limited amount for a weekend treat.
EXERCISE REGULARLY – I joined a gym, and have conquered yoga, Pilates, step, spinning and cardio. I am not the fittest person, but I use my Apple watch to monitor my move and exercise calories daily. I don’t achieve my goals everyday but at least I know I have to do more. Too many people my age believe they are too old to start exercise. For me I could not shift my weight until I drove my heart rate up to around 140 BPM 3 times a week. That doesn’t work for everyone – but even if you do low impact exercise you will be surprised just how much you can do if you put your mind to it. Yoga is not contortion – it is a layering up of simple moves to strengthen your muscles. Back pain becomes less likely as you strengthen you back.
Exercise helps me sleep as I worry less about my weight. It’s another anxiety under control.
TIP :3 - Get into regular exercise that you enjoy – gym classes are a great leveler – everyone’s on a fitness journey and no one cares what you do
SUGAR - I have to have it in tea. So, I drink less tea – and more plain water at room temperature. I have was brought up on fizzy drinks. Now I have one can of Pepsi Max as a treat. I try and drink two to three bottles of water a day. We can all appreciate that water pushes out toxins that make us tired – so it should be an easy habit to adopt. But it isn’t.
TIP :4 - I can’t give you a tip for giving up sugar, but I can offer you a tip on how to manage your sugar intake. Swap out sugar in drinks by drinking more water. Buy a 2-litre bottle of water and leave it on your desk with a glass. Get to know what it’s like to drink the 2 litres and then move to a water bottle you like. 2 litres is a lot of water to anyone who doesn’t practice this. Over time I moved to a regular water bottle – and fill it up 3 times a day.
SUPPLEMENTS : I now also take cod liver oil, zinc, magnesium and a multi-vit. The cod liver oil helps with joints, the magnesium for sleep and the zinc to ward off coronaviruses.
TIP :5 - Take supplements that help you deal with aches and pains, build immunity and supplement your diet. I am pretty certain the magnesium has helped me be calmer and less anxious. Anxiety is something that business owners know all too well. Anything that helps manage that feeling is going to help you achieve a better night’s sleep.
HEALTH KNOWLEDGE : I subscribe to the Daily Telegraph’s 365 newsletter for health. It’s a simple email to my inbox – I share it with my family if I think its relevant. I don’t nag them about their health – but I drop hints. And its reliable sensible advice with new ideas.
TIP :6 - Keep yourself updated on health trends with a reliable source which doesn’t make you anxious but just continues to inform you about good health and sleep.
The outcome of all this health awareness is that I still have to take a sleep aid to really knock me out! I would love to tell you I solved my sleep issues – but I think it’s more complicated than that. Being in business and keeping on the edge of change is hard work. Instead I have taken stock of my life and put my business in the context of what I consider to be far more important – my family – my health and my longevity. Your health is the one thing you can’t buy but you can organize your life to support your health and your sleep.
When you do this – you can continue to support your family, you can continue to support your employees and teammates who in turn have to support their families. As a business owner you are a support system for so much more than just you. People rely on you.
So please do yourself a favor – figure out what works for you so you get the rest you need to run your business and along the way see how far you can improve your overall health. It’s a WIN WIN.