From Arlene: Sleep? Who needs sleep?  Solving the Unresolved

From Arlene: Sleep? Who needs sleep? Solving the Unresolved

From Arlene | Posted by - May 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Last night I woke up at 3 a.m.

That's not too unusual for me as I rarely sleep through the night. After decades of being in business I have learned to allow my body to listen to my mind when it stirs me from slumber. I wake up and intentionally focus on what my mind has brought to my attention. I know there are tons of books out there saying all the right things about how to avoid sleep disruption. Don't work two hours before you go to bed. Don't eat late. Don't get up. Meditate if you wake up, and relax until you fall back asleep. Do not look at your blackberry. The list goes on and on.

But you know what? From years of experience I understand that sometimes it is small amounts of sleep that allow my subconscious to work on an unresolved problem that I had in the day. So, when I wake up thinking about that specific problem, I pay attention to what my mind is generating. Usually that's when I can isolate the issue and find a solution. It amazes me how our minds work. And I know our bodies do need rest. But the fact is, over the years I have solved more problems at 3 a.m. then I have in a whole day of activity. Too often, we spend our days so busy "doing" that we have no time for "thinking". As an entrepreneur, that challenge is likely exasperated as we end up being actively engaged in all aspects of our growing businesses. Which is in and of itself an issue (and a topic for another blog post).

Perhaps I will have doctors respond to this blog and say I am preaching about accepting the wrong type of behavior; that what I do by not sleeping through the night is bad for you. But I wonder: is it? Is it wrong that my mind wants to solve problems while I sleep, and wakes me to be more aware? I love sleep. Don't get me wrong. But equally, I love how my mind can step in and help me -- particularly when I can't seem to help it during a busy day.

As an entrepreneur I rely heavily on my instincts and my work ethics. I try to find as many inputs as I can to solve problems. However, when our minds are full of facts and "doing", we need to allow some processing of what's in there to occur naturally. And for me, that often happens during the night.

What about you? Are you a solid sleeper? Do you think entrepreneurs sleep less and have more disruptive sleeps than the norm?

Tags: arlene dickinson, dickinson, blog, business, challenges, disruptive, instincts, mind, problems, simpson, strategy

Arnold Hugo Stolting
May 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm

"Perhaps I will have doctors respond to this blog and say I am preaching about accepting the wrong type of behavior; that what I do by not sleeping through the night is bad for you."

Perhaps they may, but meanwhile they will be clocking into that stuffy little office for years to come until they retire, while you continue waking up at 3 a.m. to implement another Entrepreneurial idea.

"Are you a solid sleeper?"

I live in Toronto, and there is a fire station 5 minutes from me.

"Do you think entrepreneurs sleep less and have more disruptive sleeps than the norm?"

Not sure if any one person sleeps less than another. Maybe just in different patterns where a 9-5er has more of a routine, as opposed to .... well.... you Arlene!

My question is: Are there statistics that doing either promote a longer healthier life? As I would think that the person getting out of bed each day filled with excitement and a purpose might live longer, or at least happier life, no matter how little sleep they were able to get.

Casandra Campbell
May 29, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Arlene, I love that you listen to your body. When it comes to finding the right balance between work and sleep, paying attention to what your mind and body are telling you is most important.

I do believe sleep is very important, and I'm not one of the few who truly only need 4-5 hours of sleep every night. When I don't get enough, I feel it. However, when I'm having trouble sleeping, I do tend to spend my time solving problems and coming up with ideas. It's not unusually for me to frantically grab my phone to jot something down in case it slips away in the night! 

We have so many things grabbing our attention all day. I'm not surprised things start to percolate once we lie down for the night.

Since I'm not a morning person, I tend not to schedule things in the morning. This allows me to wake up naturally, which has a HUGE impact on my happiness and productivity. On the other hand, it's not unusual for me to work into the wee hours of the night.

Dragan Cvijan
May 30, 2013 at 12:34 am

I don,t and didn't solve them awake, but in sleep with problem to be solved next. Beeline came to me clear falling in bed axosted.Now I am playing daily improvment with minimum knowlege of tehnology, just like bees do.



The Flying Couponer
May 30, 2013 at 3:33 am
Dear Arlene, I sleep a lot but I also wake up once in a while during the night. I often catch myself solving problems while sleeping and the solutions are always very helpful. Our subconscious tells a lot about our preoccupations, we have to pay attention.
Greg Ryder
May 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Great Post. I am big on staying organized and planning reflective thinking time during my week to allow myself to sleep well at night - In doing so, I have started to see that instead of my subconscious focusing on solutions and trying to find answers to the days problems, I have found that in the middle of the night (or first thing in the morning) I get my best creative thoughts. It's traditionally hard for me to get the creative juices going with all the logical and necessary business needs that come up and have to be handled during the day.

Tod Paul Dorozio
May 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Yes, for sure Arlene! I do some of my best composing at 3:00 a.m.. My wife and the kiddies are asleep and the quietness and empty room are perfect for the exploring/solidifying of new ideas - usually this coincides with my having had a cat-nap earlier in the day so that i've got the extra beyond midnight 'stamina'! Excellent post and thank you for sharing it... Warm regards, Tod

Joe Wasylyk
May 31, 2013 at 2:12 am

Arlene, What to do?  If you sleep too much it becomes a liability for you in the morning.  As a 50+ Entrepreneur I am always searching for answers on HOW we can get a group of mature adults to support each other to become a real force in this new economy.  I've tried different sleeping methods including listening to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer who advised that as soon as your awaken in the middle of the night you are NOT to go back to sleep. I followed Wayne's advice by springing up at 3:00 AM going to my office, picking up a pen and start writing.  I was definitely not fully awake but I dillengently wrote a couple of pages on some lined paper. After I couldn't write anymore I went back to sleep.  In the morning I woke up to see what masterpiece I wrote the previous night.  Unfortunately I couldn't use any of this material.  I think that it was my subconsious saying.......get back to sleep you idiot!

Seriously, I definitely do get some benefit for a short Siesta anywhere between 3-5 pm.  I seem to feel more refreshed as soon as I figure out which day it is.  I think that the general rule and what is probably the healthy strategy is to get 7-8 hours of deeper sleep every night.

Good Night!

Joe W.

Laxmi Timsina Kafle
May 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Thank you Arlene for your post. I agree with you. In fact, the most important thing is "what you want?". If your "WANT" or "DESIRE" is strong enough then sleep, bla, bla, bla.......are nothing, they can not even touch you or affect you adversely. I have that experience in 2004-2006. It was my experiment or risk whether I could do it.And I did it. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of self exploring and I was so healthy, felt strong and had shine/ glow on my face. I used to get up at 1 am, 2am or 3am.

Tina Brillinger
May 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

As an entrepreneur and with so much going on everyday, one can possibly remember everything that needs to be done. I keep a pen and note pad by my bed because I often wake up with solutions to some issue or remember something I had forgotten during the day. If I start writing a list of things then I get up and start working on it until its done because otherwise I can't go back to sleep. 

Pat Mussieux
June 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Arlene - I'm with you! I listen to my body - however, I also follow the steps you mention in your blog to 'up the possibility' of a good night's sleep - no work past 7 p.m., I don't eat or drink past that hour either, no TV or other stimulus in the bedroom, etc. - but there are often times when my mind is going a mile a minute and I just go with it - I get up, make notes - and then go back to a deep sleep. The life of an entrepreneur is really just bizarre sometimes, LOL - and I love it! And I love all that you share. Thank you.



Yolande Grant
June 10, 2013 at 1:26 am

I love this post, answers a lot of questions. Over the years I thought there was something wrong with me, when every venture I worked on I noticed my mind worked better in the early morning, they best ideas came at that time between 2 and 4am. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in that respect. Regards.

Pedro Arango
June 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I need my sleep. When I wake up at 3 am is not a good thing. But I read you, our minds have their own schedule and preferred time. I used to do long stretches of pool laps at UotT at 6 am and my mind would come up with beautiful solutions to the software problem of the time. It was uncanny.

Now that I snowboard I've tried to do the same -work out business issues- while going down the hill. It doesn't work. The pain is unbelievable lol

Tracy Loeppky
October 4, 2013 at 10:58 am
I actually teared up when I read this.
I have 2 small businesses that I run from home, and am actually considering going back to school to begin a third.
I (along with my kids, husband, parents, grandparents etc. etc.) have come to know that I "do not sleep well."
I too often wake up between 2-3 am, and I lay there. And lay there. And think. And lay. And lay & think.
I have finally learned to simply get up, work on what I'm thinking about, and funny thing happens - I feel better and more relaxed.

Thank you for validating my inner thoughts!
Alex Selvig
October 18, 2013 at 10:53 am
This is great, I am currently attempting to write out a business plan and get all the parts of my business down. Not to mention the fact that I am only in my second (of three) year of my program at school.
Alex Selvig
October 18, 2013 at 10:58 am
(Hit send too early) This is great, I am currently attempting to write out a business plan and get all the parts of my business down. Not to mention the fact that I am only in my second (of three) year of my program at school. I have had the same sleep pattern as Arlene states in this post. I have been up most of the night the last few months, but honestly I do not mind. I get a lot done during my regular 2am starbucks time. Although I do usually nap after I get out of work/school, I find I am more productive if I do anyway. I really do enjoy working and it really is a passion to me, so I do not mind the long constant hours.
Behind the biz
November 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm
Great thoughts Arlene, I think the same way, I find it's the best time for thinking and solving issues or things you hadn't got round to sorting out solutions to, no matter how trivial.