Article Written by Katherine Borse of Palm Beach Healing Arts for Startup Palm Beach

It’s a new year, and many of us have set high bars & created significant resolutions for our businesses. We have decided to make more impact, launch new projects, multiply our numbers, test products, take that new idea off the vision board and into production, market more, network more, scale up, etc.  A.k.a. achieve, achieve, achieve.

As entrepreneurs, we all want to be successful, and we all need to be productive. Self-motivated. Inspired. Innovative. Creative. Passionate. Efficient. To do so, we must show up as the best version of ourselves.

When is the last time, you looked at your wellbeing and health – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – as the fertile ground for the success and well-being of your company?

Healthy executive functioning & a healthy brain are dependent upon a healthy body, and we cannot have healthy cognitive function, a.k.a. Neurological function, without a healthy gut, immune system, and hormonal balance. So how do we create the most abundant health for ourselves?

We are all unique individuals, and it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. From both a Chinese preventive and Functional medicine perspective, however, lifestyle is essential for all of us, and there are a few things that we all need to thrive, and as entrepreneurs, to flourish. Turning to our unique lifestyles, we each should examine our core modifiable lifestyle and behavioral factors – sleep, diet, stress, exercise, and connection {both Intra- and interpersonal} – and see where there is room for improvement. Let’s talk sleep.

Problem-solving, focus in the face of constant distraction, information storage, learning, emotional balance, healthy communication, and more are all aspects of our neurological function governed by the prefrontal cortex, and as entrepreneurs, we are using our prefrontal cortex to execute these tasks, every single day. And while other areas of the brain can function without adequate sleep, the prefrontal cortex cannot.

Sleep hygiene 101 – to get your uninterrupted 7-9 hours of sleep at night, move through this list and see where you have room for improvement.

#1 – Turn it off / power it down.

Make sure that you stop using all electronic devices, including watching television, and using your iPad / iPhone and computers a good hour to two before bed. Yes, that means no Instagram trolling, or Facebook posting, email catch up, or texting right before bed. Read from a book rather than from a screen, and ideally, don’t read in bed. The bed should be reserved for two things only – sleep, and – yes, sex! The light emitted by these devices disrupts melatonin production {your sleep hormone} by interfering with your pineal gland’s interpretation of circadian rhythm and has been proved to decrease REM time. It’s also a good idea to keep electronics entirely out of the bedroom altogether so that the EMF waves do not interfere with brain function. That includes fluorescent clocks and alarms.

#2 – Soothing environment – make your bedroom your sanctuary.

It has been shown that people sleep better, and deeper, when it is dark, cool, and quiet in the bedroom. Aim for a temperature of between 65 and 72 degrees. If possible, turn off all sources of sound, and use a sleep machine if necessary to drown out any ambient noise that may interfere with your zzz’s. Before bed, it is nice to use soothing music, classical or a zen ambient track, to help get your brain prepared for deep rest. And lastly, keep it dark. No screens or lights. Invest in dark curtains if necessary, draw the blinds shut, and allow yourself the darkness your brain needs to produce as much melatonin as possible. When you wake up, try to expose your eyes to natural daylight as soon as possible. The natural cycles of the sun in the morning and the darkness in the evening synchronizes with our brains to create a healthy circadian rhythm.

#3 – Avoid sleep medications

If you haven’t started using sleep medications, I would recommend turning to herbs and nutrition first. There are wonderful herbs that are used to calm the mind, and help induce sleep, and various nutrients are necessary for melatonin production. Herbs such as Valerian Root, Cats Claw, Lemon Balm, He Huan Pi, Lavender, Fu Shen, are all wonderful and can be sourced as teas, while nutrients like L-Theanine, Magnesium, 5-HTP, B-vitamins, and GABA all play a role in proper sleep. If you have questions, find a nutritionist or herbalist to help guide you.

#4 – Get moving!

Getting the appropriate amount of exercise and ideally, fresh air, during the day, will allow the body to find the adequate rest that it deserves. Exercise also reduces stress and cortisol levels {the stress hormone that is the antagonist to melatonin, the sleep hormone}, allowing us to create more melatonin. Those who exercise regularly get better sleep than those who live a sedentary lifestyle. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day. High-intensity interval training is great, alternated with low-intensity cardio sessions. Make it fun, move with friends, and try to get outdoors!

#5 – Fluids and food

Digestion consumes a lot of our energy. Ideally, try to finish your last meal at least 2 hours before bed so that there isn’t a competition within your body for fuel. The same goes for liquids. If you have any issues with nocturnal urination, try to stop fluids closer to 3 hours before you go to sleep. Also, while we are on fluids, during the day, aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water. The brain and body are predominantly water, and healthy cognition as well as sleep depends upon proper hydration. So if you are 160#’s, consume 80oz. of water.

Bonus – Want to take it a step further? Cultivate sleep rituals.

Sleep hygiene can be cultivated by cultivating delicious sleep rituals, such as taking a warm bath, removing your makeup, reserving certain types of clothing for pajamas, or journaling to release anything that is rolling around in your head and not allowing your mind to fully power down. Saying or writing down what you are grateful for that occurred during the day is a nice way to end the day, and then setting intentions for the following day is also a lovely routine to employ. Speaking of baths, you can even add Epsom salts and some lavender essential oil. Magnesium sulfate is the active ingredient in Epsom salts and it is not only a natural muscle relaxer, but magnesium is also a key co-factor in the production of key neurotransmitters, and serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin. Magnesium is one mineral that is most deficient in many people. Lavender also aids in sleep by releasing anxiety and tension and in various studies those who apply lavender to their skin, or diffuse it in their bedrooms, have been shown to sleep better. The soles of the feet, the backs of the knees, and the inner wrists are all good places to apply.

Many of the reasons resolutions tend to fail is that we go big in our minds, but we don’t have an easily digestible action plan. Or, maybe we have a plan, but lack the motivation. Let’s face it we all want to change the world and be the best version of ourselves that we can be. However in order to do so we need to be healthy on the inside first and foremost in order to stay focused, inspired, and vibrant to achieve all of our business goals.

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