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David FullerLast week, I couldn’t sleep. Whether it was the new project I’m working on or the basketball team I’m coaching, my mind was spinning.

I’d fall asleep immediately, but wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Wide awake, my mind was turning. I was thinking about new ideas; how I should word conversations; what plays I should have my team running; and how I could help some of my clients move their businesses forward.

Most annoying was that I couldn’t shut it off. (My wife was sleeping away and even her breathing started to annoy me.)

A couple of those nights, I picked up my thoughts and worked my way down to the kitchen, grabbed a snack, a book and a blanket, and settled on the couch to distract myself and hopefully fall asleep.

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Yes, sleep eventually came, but I was tired in the morning.

Research shows that when we don’t sleep properly, we eat 30 per cent more carbohydrates. We need the energy that we don’t get from being well rested and so we crave carbs, sugar and caffeine to get us through the day. It’s no wonder that people who are stressed for long periods end up gaining weight.

Not only did I need extra food for energy after my sleepless nights, but I didn’t feel like heading out to the gym. Adrenal fatigue is the medical terminology for stress over extended periods.

The good thing is that sleepless nights are rare for me these days. Since selling my business, I have much less to worry about.

But that’s not true for most business owners. Many of them tell me that they don’t sleep well. A new client told me recently that he’s only sleeping three to four hours a night because he wakes up worrying about his business issues.

Many business owners wake up in the middle of the night thinking about how to deal with that problem staff member; what to do about that part of the business that isn’t working; how to negotiate that deal; how to increase sales; where to find more money to pay the bills; what to tell that bank manager or supplier when they call to have that hard talk about money; and how to get ahead of the competition.

Perhaps it’s the day-to-day stuff that keeps them up: where the parts for the job are; how to schedule that project; or how to schedule the coming day or week with all the little details that need to be attended to.

And it might not always be the business.

Last summer, I had an exhausted client. He wasn’t sleeping, which I attributed to his struggling business. He told me it was his relationship. I asked him what he was going to do about it. He realized that he had to make some drastic changes. Now, months later, he tells me that his relationship is on the mend and how noticeable that is! He’s in a much better place and his business is thriving.

So what do we do if we can’t sleep?

Running a business requires a lot of brain power. If a business is struggling, it takes even more mental energy. Effective businesses have systems to deal with issues and challenges. Prosperous business owners follow a plan that moves them forward, resulting in a reduction of their stress. Happy business owners have balance in their lives that allows them time to spend on their relationships, health and business.

What’s keeping you awake at night? Identifying the root problem and working towards a solution can make all the difference.

When I was running my businesses and my mind was spinning, I would reach for vitamin B and adrenal support supplements, which made a difference for me. I also would take time, even a few hours a week, away from the business to get back to nature. Light exercise also seems to help – walking, swimming or biking can recharge you. Finally, make sure that you’re enjoying a healthy diet with lots of veggies – and less sugar and stimulants, which can actually change the way you think.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Comments on business at this time? Email [email protected]

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