THE BLOG
08/06/2014 08:21 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2014

Sleep Is the Key to Life

It's the motto I live by. I function better as a wife, mom and business owner because I sleep. But it took me years to get it! When I started my first company, Mrs. Beasley's, specializing in high-end gift baskets of fresh baked goods, I was obsessed. Sleep was never a priority. In fact it was probably on the bottom of my to-do list. Later when I was married with kids and was still a business owner of two restaurants called Nancy's Healthy Kitchen, sleep got put even lower on my list of priorities. I probably never felt so stressed and so sleep deprived in my life.

When I was short on sleep it felt like my "cup of stress" was full and the least extra
amount made it spill over. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot of the restaurant and getting a call telling me that it was my day with the carpool, and I had forgotten to pick up the kids. It was my low point, and it literally blew me out! I did not realize at the time that the lack of sleep was making me more emotionally fragile than I should have been. It was making small problems feel like big ones. decisions more difficult, and the overall business process more stressful and unpleasant than it needed to be.

In general, the restaurant business has the reputation of being very difficult. I would not doubt that sleep deprivation is part of the reason.There are a million details to be attended to, and if you are not careful, it will feel like your work is never done. So it is common to sacrifice sleep in order to try to do more.This was certainly the case with me. What I didn't realize then was that it was only making the job harder.

It really wasn't until I moved out of the big city of L.A. to live in my wonderful small town of San Luis Obispo, that I found the power of a good night sleep. I learned that getting enough sleep is everything. My business life isn't less complex now either. I created a recipe site called Skinny Kitchen which I spend countless hours on creating healthy recipes, doing the photos, nutrition and everything else that's involved in running a popular recipe site. But the difference is, now I am enjoying the process. I don't feel rushed or pressed. I truly feel I can handle anything that comes my way, the good and bad if I get my eight hours.

And now I protect it. I've made sleep a priority, as important or even more important than eating properly or getting regular exercise. Realize, nobody is going to make sure you get your Zzz's. If you have to be selfish with one thing in your life, it would be to make sure you get the amount of sleep you need. What I didn't realize before was that getting enough sleep makes everything easier.

Here Are My Top Four Things I Do to Help Me Sleep
These work for me. You'll have to figure out your triggers and what would work for you.
1. I don't allow anything electronic in my bedroom. No computer, iPad or cell phone. I don't want it to be the last thing i see before closing my eyes and the first thing I see when i wake up!
2. I have a set time that I try to go to bed each night. Of course it's not always doable, but it's something I'm aware of and try to do.
3. I always factor in an hour for relaxing and unwinding in bed before I actually fall asleep.
4. I try to not bring worried thoughts to bed. I replace them with grateful thoughts. I think about my loving husband, sons, family and friends and how grateful I'm am for all of them. It makes me relax and feel good.

The bottom line. Sleep is a welcoming time to relax, refresh, re-nourish, and regroup!