Whenever I get a new career coaching client they’re usually a little shocked in our first session… they think we’re gonna dive into their resume and start chatting through their career achievements, but instead I’m asking them about their sleep patterns! You may be surprised how much of an impact your sleep can have on your career – in this episode I explain.
Links I mentioned in this episode:

25. How much sleep are you getting? – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello. Hello, it’s Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. Whenever clients come to me for coaching, they’re usually a little bit shocked because in the first session they think we’re going to pull out their resume and start diving into their career history and talking about all of the things that they’ve done in their jobs and what skills [00:01:00] they’ve demonstrated and all of that kind of stuff.

[00:01:03] But I’ll be honest with you, usually that’s not where we start at all. One of the earliest questions that I actually ask my clients is, How much sleep are you getting? Now might seem like a little bit of a strange question for a career coach to ask, but what I’ve learned over the years is that for so many people, what’s going on for you in your job or in your career, in your mindset is totally, totally related to how you are feeling and how you are feeling is so often impacted by whether or not you are actually getting a good night’s sleep.

[00:01:48] I am definitely not professing to be a sleep expert, but in this episode, I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about sleep, why it’s so important, and [00:02:00] some things that I have tried over the years just give myself a better relationship with sleep. And I will say as somebody with ADHD, I actually do find sleep to be quite challenging because I want to stay up all night and learn interesting and useless facts about lots of different things and it is very, very difficult to switch off and actually go to bed at bedtime. But I do understand the importance of it, and that’s really why I wanted to dive into this topic with you today, just a little.

[00:02:38] So if you are listening to this episode around the time that it has been recorded and published, then you’ll know that we’ve got about four to five weeks left until Christmas. Unfortunately, this time of the year is actually really stressful for many people because everything kind of ramps up at work. You know, we go into that kind of stage of going like, Oh, these [00:03:00] are, this is a list of things that we need to get done before Christmas, and then there are societal pressures. Tell me, how many of you have experienced this? Oh, we absolutely must catch up before Christmas. It’s like Christmas is this crazy cutoff and everybody wants to catch up and have a coffee or lunch with me or something before Christmas, and it’s like, What is this deadline that happens at Christmas? That means that we can’t do lunch or coffee afterwards? I don’t know.

[00:03:33] But there’s all of that going on. But then there’s also all of the pressures that come with Christmas itself. Now I’m pretty fortunate, my family are quite low key at Christmas time, so we are all really big gift givers. My love language is absolutely giving and receiving gifts. I just adore it. And so I tend to kind of get my Christmas shopping out of the way early in the year. I [00:04:00] find it quite fun. Um, it’s really very satisfying for me to come up with really thoughtful gifts for my family and friends and team members. So for me, that’s not stressful at all, but for a lot of people I know it is.

[00:04:15] And then it’s like, you know, you have the extra pressure of having to maybe prepare Christmas lunch or dinner. And then for some people there’s that pressure of knowing that they’re going to have to meet up with family that they may not necessarily see the eye to eye with. So this idea of like sleep and rest and responding to stress and taking care of our wellbeing, I think is more important at this time of the year than it is really at any other time of the year because there are so many different layers of stuff going on.

[00:04:56] Now I know for myself, even though I [00:05:00] do avoid sleep because oh my God, there’s so many things that I want to be doing and I can’t do them when I’m asleep. I also know that without sleep I really don’t function particularly well. So it is really important for me to make sure that I’m getting all of the sleep that I need.

[00:05:19] Now for me, I approach this, I’ve got a lot of privilege, so because of the fact that I work for myself, if I decide that I’m going to go trolling the internet for interesting facts about the United State of Florida or moose or something else that’s on my random research list at the moment, then I can sleep in in the morning and I can generally kind of start my work day whenever I like. I appreciate that that’s not the way for everyone because of the fact that you may have children or a day job or other responsibilities, [00:06:00] and that is totally fine.

[00:06:02] So what I suggest for my clients that do have a little bit more structure around their day, and they do need to kind of get up and begin the day a certain way, is that you begin by working on a really excellent nighttime routine.

[00:06:17] Now, a lot of my clients really kind of roll their eyes when I say this to them because they’re kind of, you know, what the hell does that have to do with anything? But truthfully, what I can say to you is that at those times when I have needed to, you know, work on getting up at a certain time or make sure that I’m well rested by a certain time in the morning, I have leaned really heavily on a nighttime routine, and I’ve kind of learned that I can train my brain and train my body to know that it is time for sleep.

[00:06:54] Now, I want to be really honest with you, I’ve never really been the kind of human that has had a lot of [00:07:00] sleep issues. So if you are coming into this podcast with like extreme insomnia or anything like that, then you know, this is not for you. I’m definitely not here pretending like I can cure sleep issues or anything like that. But if you are just having a little bit of trouble getting into a restful routine, then I would suggest that starting by thinking about the things that you’re doing before you go to bed can go a hell of a long way in terms of making sure that you do get to bed at a certain time and that you are also able to wake up feeling really well rested.

[00:07:36] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at PopYourCareer.com/quest.

[00:07:56] So a couple of suggestions that I’ve got for you are things like, I’ve [00:08:00] always really enjoyed gratitude journaling at nighttime. I think that it is a really nice way of just putting me in a beautiful mood and kind of relaxing things before I go to bed. I am also a really big fan of like meditation or listening to tracks, help you to kind of slow down your mind. I actually saw that on Audible at the moment. There is this great series that helps you sleep and it’s like random, crazy stories that don’t have a real start, middle, or finish so that you’re not like staying up all night wondering what’s going to happen next.

[00:08:41] And they’re on like boring topics. Sorry to anyone who takes offenses to this, but boring topics like the description of a quilt and the like fabric and the textures and things like that. So I think that they kind of market it to [00:09:00] be like interesting enough to almost like hold your attention and stop your mind from wandering off onto other things, but it’s not actually interesting enough that you want to stay awake for it. Things like that are totally amazing.

[00:09:13] I also really love lavender or other essential oils and natural remedies that kind of help you to relax or, you know, kind of create a little bit of a sensory routine as well. So I know that if I am, for instance, applying a magnesium balm with lavender to my chest each night before I go to sleep, then that’s actually part of me telling my brain and my body that it’s time to sleep.

[00:09:44] Another thing that I do personally is that I wear earplugs. This is not just like a fashion statement. Uh, my husband is a really extreme snorer. So I do need those earplugs to [00:10:00] sleep. Uh, but in the past I’ve also slept with a sleep mask. And for me, this has been about creating a really quiet sensory environment for myself.

[00:10:11] And I really got to the stage with this habit where my body and my brain knew that once I was popping that eye mask, and once I was putting my earplugs in that, that was like a signal. Now it’s time to go to sleep.

[00:10:26] Now all of these tips here that I’m sharing with you are super duper basic. There’s really nothing incredibly revolutionary here. One, I guess thing that I will suggest to you is if you are having a little bit more trouble than usual, it might actually be worthwhile you, getting some blood tests done and just getting your doctor to check into a few things. I recently found out that I had incredibly low vitamin D and also vitamin B 12, which was contributing to me feeling [00:11:00] really exhausted when I woke up in the morning. It wasn’t necessarily due to the fact that I’d had a poor night’s sleep. It was because of the fact that I was nutrient deficient. So definitely starting in on some high dose vitamins to boost my levels has really, really helped in terms of making me feel more refreshed and more kind of ready to get going in the morning.

[00:11:22] If you are interested in diving a little bit more into the concept of creating a nighttime routine, that is perfect for you, then I would really recommend that you check out a book by Amy Landino called Good Morning, Good Life. It is actually about creating morning routines, but she does talk about the importance of the evening routine as well.

[00:11:46] And what I love about this book, as opposed to some other books like Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning, which I do really enjoy, I find that Amy’s approach is really less prescriptive and [00:12:00] that it is more about you finding the activities that are going to fulfill your needs rather than like checking things off a list that’s been created by somebody else. So we will put a link to that in the show notes, but that book again is called Good Morning, Good Life, and it’s by Amy Landino.

[00:12:22] Now, I know this has been quite a random episode, and like I said, I know it could be a little bit of a strange kind of thing for me to bring up on a career coaching podcast, but I just want to share it with you as a little reminder that especially as we are moving into the silly season and we are tending to burn the candle at both ends, it is really important to make sure that you are truly rested, that you are allowing your body to heal and rejuvenate, and that you are actually giving yourself space away from everything else that’s going on, and just allowing yourself to get that beautiful [00:13:00]deep rest that you need in order to be able to progress on.

[00:13:05] What I will say is that often when these clients come to me and I do ask them that question, how much sleep you are getting, the answer is often not very much, and I am not suggesting that all of your career problems or challenges or stresses are caused by lack of sleep. But what I will say is this, when you aren’t sleeping and you aren’t allowing yourself to rest, and you aren’t giving yourself that space to rejuvenate, a lot of the stresses and challenges and problems and things that are going on in your career and also in your broader life can seem a hell of a lot more impactful, a hell of a lot more dramatic, and they can affect you so much [00:14:00] deeper if you are exhausted.

[00:14:04] So while you might be tempted to brush this advice off and just think Bec’s off on a random tangent talking about sleep on the Pop Your Career podcast. I would really encourage you to just give this some thought. Check in with yourself. How much sleep are you getting? Is that enough? Are you waking up feeling restful? Are you finding that you’re getting more irritated during the day or that certain things are aggravating you or getting under your skin more than they usually would? If they are, is it possible that perhaps you are not giving yourself the rest that your mind and your body need?

[00:14:45] I hope this has been a little bit of food for thought for you and that perhaps you will take my advice and give yourself a little bit of extra time to rest. [00:15:00] I’ll see you in the next episode.

[00:15:01] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.


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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.