230 Sleep & Productivity with Terry Cralle from the Better Sleep Council

Sleep & Productivity with Terry Cralle from the Better Sleep Council


Ever wondered why burning the midnight oil often leaves you less productive the next day? Let sleep expert Terry Cralle from the Better Sleep Council unlock the secrets to boosting your daily productivity simply by embracing the power of sleep. 

The journey towards rest and rejuvenation doesn't end with acknowledging its necessity; it's about actively enhancing it for every family member. In this episode, we share touching personal stories and strategies to help instill a nurturing bedtime routine for children, discussing why consistency and positive associations are vital for a good night's rest. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • Quality sleep is essential for productivity and the impact of sleep deprivation
  • Planning and organizing tasks can alleviate nighttime stress and promote better sleep
  • Reframing societal attitudes toward sleep, recognizing it as a vital health habit

Connect with the Better Sleep Council:


Listen to the episode here!



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Megan 00:00
Hey everyone, welcome back to Work Life Harmony, today we're gonna talk about one of my most favorite things in the world sleep. Oh my goodness, I love sleep, and today I have brought an expert on from the Better Sleep Council, and Terry's gonna be here not only to talk about why sleep is so important, but then to give some really good practical tips that you can use for yourself and, especially if you have young ones at home, to help set the stage for the rest of their lives on the importance of sleep. So let's go ahead and get started. Welcome to the Work Life Harmony podcast.

I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity, so you can have work life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram, at Megan Sumrell, with the word harmony, and my team will send it right over.

Hey everyone, welcome back to work life harmony. I have a new guest here that I'm really excited about, because Terry Crawley is going to have a conversation with us about one of my most favorite things probably one of my top two favorite things which is sleep. I love sleep. I love everything about sleep. I love Jami's bed, all of it but what we're going to be talking about today in her real zone of genius here being on the Better Sleep Council, is in the relationship of sleep and productivity, along with what do we do when we're not getting good sleep to help that. So welcome to the show, terry. I'd love to have you introduce yourself. Let everyone know where you're from and how you got involved in this line of work.

Terry 02:10
Absolutely Well. Thank you for having me, Megan. I am here with representing the Better Sleep Council and as a registered nurse. I fell into sleep quite by accident many years ago and have been just fascinated by this whole field that I'm in. That's exciting, with new research being done constantly and the benefits of sleep. I cannot tell you how many wonderful benefits there are and why it's so important. So thank you for having me.

Megan 02:44
You are so welcome and I love that. You know when we were talking was understanding the relationship of really good sleep and productivity, which is what I really wanna talk about today. But if you're new here to the podcast, I wanna pause for a second and make sure you understand what I'm talking about. When I say productivity, it's not about getting more done than your neighbor. It's not about making a long checklist and getting them all done.

The way we look at productivity here on the show is saying getting the things that are most important to you done in a stress-free way. Right, I mean, that's really what it's about at the end of the day, wrapping up our days and weeks and going all right. The stuff that I said was important, I got it done, and I got it done without being stressed out the entire time. So I just kind of wanted to put that frame of reference in for anyone new to the show. So I would love for you to help us understand what you all have seen here. What is that relationship between sleep and productivity, and is there a magic number of hours that we all need to be getting in sleep each night?

Terry 03:44
Well, there is a number of range. That's for adults at seven to nine hours and I know that kind of bothers people. You know I think I run into in all of my work with broadcasting the benefits and the importance of sleep. I find people saying that's not realistic. I don't have time for that.

So we get back into that productivity conversation that you just started, which I love to talk about and tease out a little bit, because we are so much more productive when we're well rested and I think many people make the error of trading sleep hours for wake hours. You know we want to give up sleep so we can be awake longer and get more done, and that is a horrible formula and it doesn't work that way. We have to flip the script and put sleep first and when we get that seven to nine hours of quality uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours we're doing better, we get, we're more efficient, we get more done, we're more accurate, we're more on task, we're more focused, we have a better outlook, we're thinking more clearly, we're using better judgment, better problem solving ability and one of the most important things to really understand about sufficient sleep Is how it gives us resilience. So when you bring up the word stress. One of the most important things we can do to make us more resilient and to really be in a lesser stress or stress free state, or just understanding that we can handle what life throws at us is sufficient.

Sleep gives us that ability, and I think that's something that people don't understand, with so much more than being sleepy or feeling like you're dragging. Sleep deprivation really affects us physically, but mentally as well, in so many ways. So I think that's something important to think about and really can we restructure, re engineer our days to put sleep first and then see how much more productive, happy that, that, we are when we do that? And I find very few people if I challenge them to two weeks of making sure you get that sleep if you haven't been doing that, they feel so much better and they get their point of reference back that they rarely go back to putting sleep sort of in the back burner.

Megan 06:15
Yeah, you brought up a couple of things that I think are so subtle but so powerful on on some of the benefits of that sleep, one being the efficiency of our time, right and then the other just more clarity of thought, which is going to mean that what you're doing is of a higher quality. So then maybe you're not having to waste time by going back and fixing and redoing some of the things that you were doing when you're sleep deprived. I was recently being interviewed on a for a business show, and it was a show all about entrepreneurs, and so one of the questions I always ask is how many hours of sleep do you get a night? And so he asked me that question and I said eight to nine, and he was stunned because he's like I never talked to entrepreneurs that say they're getting eight to nine hours of sleep and what you just said.

I think that was a big reality check for me, or my aha moment. People often ask how do I get as much done in the small pockets of time that I do work every day, and a big part of it is my planning and how I plan and manage my time, but I believe a second part of that is because I'm so rested I can crank out a lot of stuff in small pockets of time and it and it comes. It's not hard when I'm rested.

Terry 07:30
Exactly, and unfortunately it's a very ubiquitous mindset that we we have glamorized and idealized people who say I don't get much sleep and look how much I'm getting done.

Yeah, yeah, and it's a horrible shame that that occurs, because we have to look at sleep as it as it is, because it's a biological requirement, Megan. Neither one of us would say, oh, I've learned how to get through the day with drinking no water, I've learned how, I've gotten used to it, I don't need water, or very much of it, or I've learned how to not eat. I mean, these are biological requirements that we have to. You know that are. It's a reality, and I think that we are really, I mean, shining a bright light on that fallacy, that that trap we fall into.

Megan 08:26
It doesn't make you a stronger person, right, because you need less sleep, you're not Right? Yeah, and I noticed just last night, or just yesterday, the night before it was a very rare night where I did not get much sleep. I was on a trip out with girlfriends. We intentionally chose to stay up late. Then I had to get up very early, so I was functioning on just under six hours of sleep, which is never my norm. And when I look back at my day yesterday, I did nothing of value. I was very short, very easily set off by family, very irritable. What are some of the other common things or behaviors that you see in people when they are not well rested?

Terry 09:12
I think there's a lot of things that people don't realize are tied to sleep In a patient care scenario. This was so interesting. A fairly young mother of three little kids came to our clinic oh, they're getting tons of sleep. Yeah, exactly. And she had had a lot of symptoms and her husband dragged her to our clinic kicking and screaming because there was some snoring and things going on at night and very fitful sleeping. That he reported. And she was sort of dismissive and well, I'm busy and of course I'm not getting enough sleep. I've got all this stuff going on. And the short of the story is the point is she ended up having sleep apnea that had been undiagnosed and of course not treated. So we diagnosed her, we got her treated for sleep apnea and her first follow-up visit, her husband's first words at that second appointment, he said thank you for giving me my wife back. So because of the personality that's how I felt this morning.

Megan 10:17
I was like, oh my God, I'm back, like it's me again.

Terry 10:19
Yes, I mean, think about these things in terms of being a partner, being a parent, gosh, when people, the mood, oh the mood changes in people are profound Again can be the irritability, lack of an ability to problem solve, being very disorganized, not being able to keep a nice environment, keeping things clutter free. We can't make good decisions when we're tired, we don't get things done just as you illustrated on one day, but think there are too many people that that's sort of their thing and it's a constant uphill battle to get things done, even things like job satisfaction. We some research has shown that that is degraded when you're sleep deprived. So if that's a chronic situation of sleep deprivation, you're less likely to enjoy your work, you're less likely to be patient with your children, you're less likely. That's me.

Megan 11:17
That's the first thing, that goes for me is my question yeah.

Terry 11:20
So I think, if anything sort of open up your listeners, we should open up our eyes to what is impacted by sleep, and the short answer is everything. And I think that's sort of a disconnect. And, of course, when we're sleep deprived, here's another problem we lack insight.

Megan 11:42
So sleep deprivation really does a number and good decision making skills right. Yes, all of that Like. You wake up already in a state of decision fatigue if you are not well rested.

Terry 11:52
So you're not planning and you're not getting organized and you're not sort of making important decisions in the order they should be made. All of that and that's everything, whether it comes to how you structure your day in terms of work, family obligations, but even in what you choose to eat, we find that sleep deprived people are grabbing terrible food choices.

Megan 12:13
You know either reaching for donuts fatigue will power out the window, yeah.

Terry 12:17
Yeah, they're reaching for high fat, high sugar foods to give them that burst of energy, or consuming lots of caffeine to get through the day. Now here's where this horrible vicious cycle starts, because then the bad food during the day and the lots of caffeine lead to a horrible night of sleep.

So we've got you know, you've got to break this cycle and I think the only way to do that is to just take a moment, sit back and say you know, really, how am I doing and am I getting the sleep I need and could my life be a lot different? Because we do find people that really get it, get it and I think the quality of life, the potential for really increasing that, is tremendous and we just can't overlook that.

Megan 13:00
So I really can't overstate the importance of sort of assessing what do we do when you know a lot of our listeners are in a stage of life where they may be in the trenches with littles who are coming in? You know, particularly if you have multiple kids, and it's like each night is almost a game of whack-a-mole, with different kids coming up, waking up in the middle of the night, a sick child, all of that. Any suggestions for the women in that stage of life where they would love to get a good night's sleep? They're doing everything right, they're going to bed. You know they're not trying to shortchange it, but the reality of their life is one where their sleep is very disrupted on a regular basis.

Terry 13:43
Absolutely, and for your listeners, they can always go back to the Better Sleep Council website for a lot of these points I'm bringing up. If they need to refresh, you know, or sit down. But I think the very first rule of thumb is talk about sleep with young children. I mean, bring up the conversation early and often, because sleep is the number one health habit and it's clearly in that order. It comes first, because diet and exercise are completely dependent upon sufficient sleep. So it's that important. So we have to start that conversation early and bring it up often and during the daytime when people aren't tired and sleep deprived. So that's important. I mean, look, we get little kids to brush their teeth every night. Do they really understand cavities and things? Probably not. But you know what we started early. It became a health habit. It's a non-negotiable health habit. So let's get that message across.

And that's a hard, that's a tall order, because so many grownups never got the message. So I'm asking grownups to give that. And that can be hard because, think about it, kids are completely dependent on grownups to get the sleep they need every night. So here's one of the most important things grownups and kids can do to get sufficient sleep, and that is to have that bedtime routine. We need a time in the evening where we transition our minds and bodies from wake to sleep and it's crucially important to have it. Have it in the same steps every night, go through the same steps in the same order, make it relaxing. Don't lose your cool. You got it, you got to make it. It's a positive thing and, of course, if you're tired it's hard to do that. I mean, we're all short of of patience when when we're tired. So, but we've got to make that pleasant. We've got to make it so.

Kids don't see it as a major time out, because in their little minds that's what it can be. Or, you know, we're saying here let's get ready to go away from your toys, families and friends for 10, 12 hours, depending on their age, however much sleep they need, and give it up. But let's make it pleasant. Let's make it a time for bonding. Let's approach it in a different light. Never and while I'm on the topic don't use the bedroom as a time out. Don't use going to bed early as a punishment. Don't make staying up late as a reward. I mean careful to do that, but always bring up the benefits of sleep, make the routine as fun as possible and also give children even young children it'll vary with age, but give them choices. In the process that they have little choice, they will become more able to self manage and they'll become more empowered. Even if it's something simple like you pick out the pajamas, you know we're going to read.

Right, or you choose my pajamas for tonight. I mean, you've got to. This has got to be a positive bonding experience. And always, I always say when you go through the routine, even with little kids, kids with developmental problems have a pictorial up on the wall that they can follow. Surprisingly enough, kids like structure, they feel more secure. But there have been excellent studies showing that when you institute and stick to that routine every night and you approach it in a positive, calm, matter of fact way, even there's that bedtime resistance, but that it's a non-negotiable thing, kids, kids can fall into line and actually look forward to it and you will get them to stay. You know, get to bed. And the goal is to get to bed on time and stay in bed.

Megan 17:33
Yeah, it's funny, one of the things I can remember my husband and I did way back when, you know she was little little. We were very just because I I love my sleep so much. We were very structured and routine with bedtime and all of that, to the point that I know maybe some external folks would get annoyed on how we're like. No, we can't do that because it's going to impact bedtime. But if we had gone through a couple nights where maybe our daughter wasn't feeling well or something, so there was a legit reason to get me up in the middle of the night, if it had happened more than two or three nights in a row, we would sit down and say, okay, now tonight I'm off duty, you're on duty Right. Tuck in time. We would say if you need, if there's any emergency tonight. Tonight you go to dad's side of the bed.

Terry 18:15
Exactly, and so at least we could one.

Megan 18:18
it would break the habit if she was just in it. I just want to get mom up, but then if there really was a need, then I would get a night of good rest while he would get up and handle any emergencies there, and I think that's something that's important for people to discuss. You know, if you do have two parents in the home to take turns doing that, so everybody gets a night of good sleep.

Terry 18:39
Exactly, yeah, exactly. And be very self-aware of how you're approaching or presenting sleep and bedtime to a child. Be very, very sure to celebrate successes. I cannot emphasize that enough. In the morning, when your child has gone to bed on time with very little resistance, really celebrate as best you know stickers. They love the stickers. You know you get to put your sticker up if you stay in bed.

Megan 19:04
My daughter just wanted me to climb into bed and snuggle in the morning Exactly, and that was her big thing.

Terry 19:09
So yeah, and I know a lot of children love to do the three good things. We call that the three good things they can do at bedtime. You either write them out, depending on their age, or list them, or just say what are the best you know three good things that happen to you today. You know it just sometimes gets into a little bit of serenity and I feel good when you're going off to sleep, when you think about night lights. Use amber colored night lights instead of the bright white and you can gradually, if the child needs it, close to the head of the bed. We want to avoid too much light of any kind. Of course we sleep better in the darkest environment possible, but gradually move it away and don't dismiss the sleep surface for children. It's vitally important for everyone of all ages. But that sleep environment and that sleep surface, you know, are there a lot of the surface? Is it an old use mattress for the child that you know maybe needs another thing? Empower them during the day at an appropriate age you get to pick out your pillow because sleep is so important and we go over the benefits of sleep all over pillow shopping. Or, you know, blanket shopping. You know how, about that transitional object that they feel secure with, and make sure that Better Sleep Council has great resources on selecting a mattress and all things mattress related.

And think about the environment and grownups and kids. Is it cluttered? Is it filled with toys? These are visual distractions and these actually can impact how soundly we sleep, how, you know, quickly we fall asleep and stay asleep. Is there a lot of chaos and clutter and stuff? I mean, keep the rooms. Everyone's bedroom and sleep area should be as minimalist, you know, as possible and serene as possible, and that goes for decor and what's in that room. I've talked to grownups who say as soon as they got the exercise equipment out of the room they slept better, because, you know, on some level it's a distraction and the neater it is. And close those closet doors, get the unfolded laundry, set it out in the hall at night anything just to make that room, you know, pleasing, relaxing and quiet. Because I mean we, especially when it comes to falling asleep I know a lot of your listeners and all of us when we feel overwhelmed, the second our head hits the pillows oh my god, our minds start freezing.

And then we're like thinking of everything that needs to be done. So that's where the environment comes in, serene and not too busy. But that's also something that prompts me to tell me to recommend making a list at the end of the work day and doing that kind of brain dump everything out. It does. And even that the act of handwriting it down and looking at it on a piece of paper, all of a sudden Megan things can look a lot more manageable, a lot less and for those overwhelming For folks listening been through the top program that are, you know, mastering weekly planning.

Megan 22:11
You get that as a benefit when you do your weekly planning. So, rather than you know when you're, when you've really mastered weekly planning, now I don't need to make a list at night but I go look at my plan so I can say, okay, here's what's on the, here's what's on the agenda for tomorrow. I can rest knowing I've got a plan in place. So if you are, you know, new to planning and don't have this yet, definitely doing that brain dump at night, recommend, if you're already mastering weekly planning, just do a quick review of your plan for the next day. Really helps clear your brain. Now these are. It's got me thinking about some stuff. I feel like for people that are, you know, struggling with good sleep and we're adults, it's almost like going back to parenting ourselves and setting up those routines for ourselves, as we would our little, our young children, in terms of those routines for bedtime and all of that. You've mentioned a website a few times. Where can people go to really read up on some resources to help them with better sleep?

Terry 23:08
Sure bettersleeporg is the Better Sleep Council's website and there's just lots of helpful information and it's a fun I mean great website in terms of great things to talk about, even with your kids, and make it a daytime thing where you really approach the whole concept of. This is the most important health habit we can master. This can be really make a difference in all of our lives and if you really want a better life, a better quality life, and to do better in all aspects, it's time that we sort of stop that, you know, looking at sleep as a time waster or something that, if we get things yeah we don't, we lack the work ethic or not ambitious or not.

I mean, really turn that around and say you know what, getting sufficient sleep is the most responsible thing we can all do and I would be very unapologetic for your need for sleep and, you know, very validated Thank you. Yes, yes, I mean it's a top priority. And you know, just discussing if parents take, you know, one night where they don't get much sleep, I mean, look at naps as a naps are a great way to make up some sleep if it's really starting to to hurt your day and you're not feeling good. And one of my most important tips that I give people please don't drive drowsy. I hate the term drowsy driving.

It sounds so benign but it is as dangerous as drunk driving, and that's something when we think about trying to power through sleep deprivation. First of all, don't do that, make that a priority. But if you are sleep-deprived, make sure you've got someone else driving it's. It's a very dangerous thing and that's something to keep at top of mind.

Megan 25:10
So good. I can't thank you enough for being here. We appreciate it. Hopefully, all of our listeners will be able to go head over to better sleep dot org Correct and we'll have that link in the show notes as well and maybe start reframing. Just start with reframing your relationship with sleep and, you know, if you're someone that's not getting enough sleep, start there and looking at it as the number one thing that you can do for your overall wellness and health. So thank you so much for being here today. We really appreciate it.

Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the app store or Google Play and download the pink B app. It's one word, the pink B. It is jam packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and end to harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five star review.


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