125: Building Better Sleep Habits: A Conversation with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown

How many of us race, walk, and hustle through our days? We’re high achievers, after all, so it seems commonplace to finish the day completely exhausted. But what happens when that daytime stimulation, overthinking, or second-guessing impacts our sleep? Today we’re finding out from a very special guest. 

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown is a triple-board-certified sleep medicine physician, specializing in helping busy women and their children to prioritize sleep in order to thrive, achieve optimal health, and live to their fullest potential. She’s here to share her story and explain to us why sleep is so important.

Even more than that, Dr. Brown and I are discussing how to prioritize sleep in our busy lives, what to do if you’re unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, and how to develop proper sleep hygiene and habits. So listen in as we talk about the relationship between sleep and habits, and prepare to get more restful sleep.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine | Building Better Sleep Habits: A Conversation with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown

How many of us race, walk, and hustle through our days? We’re high achievers, after all, so it seems commonplace to finish the day completely exhausted. But what happens when that daytime stimulation, overthinking, or second-guessing impacts our sleep? Today we’re finding out from a very special guest. 

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine | Building Better Sleep Habits: A Conversation with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown is a triple-board-certified sleep medicine physician, specializing in helping busy women and their children to prioritize sleep in order to thrive, achieve optimal health, and live to their fullest potential. She’s here to share her story and explain to us why sleep is so important.

Even more than that, Dr. Brown and I are discussing how to prioritize sleep in our busy lives, what to do if you’re unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, and how to develop proper sleep hygiene and habits. So listen in as we talk about the relationship between sleep and habits, and prepare to get more restful sleep.

If you want to be the first to know when my group coaching program HOPP opens for enrollment again, join my email list here!

To discover how private one-on-one coaching can beautifully align with creating the life you desire. Click here to explore the possibilities!

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • The difference between insomnia and sleep deprivation.
  • What happens to our body’s while we are sleeping and the benefits of sleep.
  • The health risks associated with lack of quality sleep. 
  • How to prioritize sleep even with the busiest of schedules. 
  • What to do if you’re frequently waking up in the middle of night or early morning.
  • Dr. Brown’s CREATE method for building restful sleep habits. 

Listen to the Full Episode:

Powerful Takeaways:

8:43 “In sleep, it seems like nothing’s happening, but it’s pretty much as active as being awake.”

9:29 “Our cognitive functions; learning, decision making, executive function. All those tools we need to navigate…revolve around good quality sleep.”

19:14 “I promise you, all those things in your schedule, not every one of them is a priority.”

24:43 “You want to retrain your brain to associate the bed as a place to rest and just relax and sleep.”

24:57 “Stop trying. Sleep is not something we try to do, it’s just something we do.”

Featured on the Show:

Related Episodes:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Episode 125. I'm your host, Kristi Angevine, and today I got the pleasure of conversing with a sleep expert. Known as the "Restful Sleep MD", Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown joins me today to talk about why sleep is paramount, how to optimize it, and the habits that interfere with it and support it. Let’s get started.

Welcome to Habits On Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits that give more than they take. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do. And now here's your host, Physician and Master Certified Life Coach Kristi Angevine.

Hello, hello, everyone. Today, I'm joined by Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown. She is so many things. She's the founder of Restful Sleep MD, a best-selling author, triple board-certified Sleep Medicine physician, she has training from the University of Pennsylvania, she coaches, she speaks, she does organizational consultation.

In my practice, I find that many of my clients struggle with sleep. They have a tendency to race, walk, and hustle through their days, and they're completely exhausted. Yet once it's time for sleep, they can't seem to get the sleep they need.

Their daytime overthinking and second guessing follows them to the bedroom. Their difficulty with boundaries makes them put their own sleep last on the list. And then when they're sleep deprived and haggard through their days, they don't have the energy to do the things they want to do, like exercise or hobbies or be present. They might be more prone to overeat, mindlessly scroll; all things that make their fatigue continue or even get worse.

The relationship between sleep and habits is one that I find so fascinating. So, without further ado, let's get started with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown.

Kristi Angevine: Hello, everybody. I am so excited for this conversation that I'm about to have you and get to listen in on. I am going to do my best on this pronunciation. I have the one, the only, the Restful Sleep MD, Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown. Welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited. I'm one of your biggest fans, just so you know.

Kristi: I love it. So, for the people who don't yet know your work, can you just introduce yourself?

Funke: Well, I'll start by saying I am a mom of two. I'm a wife and a physician. My expertise is in sleep. After doing my training, my pediatrics training in pediatric pulmonology, I fell in love with sleep because I struggled with sleep as well. And so, that motivated me to do a Sleep Fellowship, which is an additional year of training.

I fell in love more with sleep, such that I've devoted my career to helping families sleep. I have a unique expertise in pediatric sleep, but I also take care of adults. And really, my practice now is both coaching and clinical practice. Where I focus on sleeping kids, but I also offer coaching services in sleeping for women, especially moms.

Kristi: Oh, that's so great. So, everybody listening, please go find her. Because I know so many of you really grapple with navigating troublesome sleep and optimizing sleep. So, this is going to be such a great episode.

I'm looking at the screen here. I know the podcast listeners cannot see, but there's this beautiful blue wall and a bookshelf and these beautiful pictures, and I'm curious where you are if you've got a window. And if you do, what's out your window?

Funke: It is interesting. I have a window, but it opens up to a much bigger room. And so, that room has my daughter's bunny, Eddie. It has a couch. And then it just has kids’ stuff.

Kristi: So, I'm not the only one who has kids’ stuff within view. I'm looking really closely. I do have some Perler beads that are sitting right in front of me; who knows where they came from? Where are you talking to me from?

Funke: I'm talking to you from my home in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Kristi: Perfect. I was wondering if it's Pennsylvania; in my memory, based on your training. But I'm curious first off, before we dive into all things sleep, why do you care about sleep? How did this become your passion personally? Not as an academic, but just personally. Why do you care?

Funke: Yeah, I started off, like most of us, in medical school. I started off sleep deprived burning the candle on both ends. At that young age, I could tolerate some sleep deprivation to an extent. It was taking a toll. It was slowly but surely creating anxiety and just a whole lot of feeling of chronic overwhelm. And so, I carried that into my residency.

I had my kids in training. And so, I think that was when I just really hit the wall, where I was just exhausted. And so, I would be working, do my call at work, and then go home and continue calls, right?

And then, on top of all of that, my son was… There's this term people call “bad sleepers”. I don't like that term at all. But he was. I mean, if you would define a “bad sleeper”, it was my son. Who didn't read the memo? To realize that, “Okay, this woman has been struggling for a minute, let me just go easy on her.”

So, I just kind of had a stress that was piling up. And then, also I had a loss; it was around then that I lost my dad. And so, I really went into this heavy bout of insomnia on the background of sleep deprivation. I usually say both because they're two different entities.

In women, they tend to co-occur. Where you're sleep deprived, meaning that you just don't have the opportunity to sleep because you're running a mile a minute, and you are just burning the candle on both ends. But even when you have that sleep opportunity and you get into bed, your mind doesn't shut down. And so now, I have both. And so, I think that really led me into more of… almost like a crisis.

And so, kind of unraveling the mess, I realized, “What are the things that are relatively within my control, in that sense, in this situation?” And sleep was one of those things. It turned out, it was so fundamental to a lot of the issues I was experiencing.

And so, once I figured that out, I took myself through cognitive behavioral therapy… which I didn't even know at that time… but really worked on my thoughts, my behaviors, my habits, and my perceptions around sleep. It was more of, “Oh, my gosh, I need to know more.” And so, I think that really motivated me to pursue Sleep Medicine Fellowship.

And then, really start to understand that there were so many other women like me that needed help. And so, initially, I'd started work doing breathing, and sleep issues; so, sleep apnea and all that stuff. But there's just so much to the science of sleep health. And there are situations where parents show up with their kids to my office, and they're like, “I don't even know how I drove here, I'm that exhausted.”

So, that really made me say, “Okay, you know what? This is enough to really sit with and work on for the rest of my career.” Especially the women, because I could see myself in a lot of them. And so, when I provide services, as I'm speaking to the child I'm also saying, “How can we help you as a mom? Because if I give you a list of instructions of what to do for your child, if you're not well, none of that is going to happen.” Really, I think that's how I got here.

Kristi: That's such a powerful story. And I think it really emphasizes how anybody who's listening to this, who does feel like they're kind of fraying on the edges when it comes to sleep deprivation and/or insomnia, they are not alone. That there is hope for help.

If somebody is listening to this, and we want to sell them on the importance of optimizing sleep, why should they care? In terms of, if they don't unravel the mess, so to speak, what's the risk? What's the bad stuff? And what's the benefit of getting your sleep as dialed in as possible?

Funke: Yeah, when we look… even from the top, from our brain health all the way down… sleep is critical. The role that sleep has in, first, rest and restoration.

In sleep, it seems like nothing's happening, but it's pretty much as active as being awake. Because that's when your muscles sort of repair themselves. That's when brain health, in terms of eliminating and getting rid of products that really accumulate over the course of the day, of the course of wakefulness, that’s when that occurs.

There are other things like our immune system. It gets pretty revamped during sleep. And if you're not sleeping, well, then you're at a higher risk of catching colds, getting certain cancers, so many not really good things can happen. And then, our mental health is a big one too. So, mood and emotion regulation occurs during sleep.

Our cognitive functions; learning, decision making, executive function. All those tools we need to navigate day-to-day experiences, to better manage our emotions so that we can be present, revolves around good quality sleep. Lots of benefits.

A whole lot of things can go wrong. So, pretty much flip all of that upside down. If you're not getting enough sleep there's a higher risk of conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia. And we can even see, if you think about it, even a day when you've not had enough sleep, you probably start to feel that fogginess. You may not remember where your keys are. You may forget names.

So, you already start to lose almost a little bit of loss in that short term memory, right from the minute when you stop sleeping. And then imagine what happens when you don't do it over a long period of time. And then, the heart risks; heart attacks, abnormal rhythms, and heart failure and hypertension. All those things have been tightly related to poor sleep.

Insulin resistance and obesity, and so many, many other risks. Metabolic abnormalities can occur during sleep. Then there’s a higher risk of anxiety and depression.

And one thing that I always emphasize, it's not just about you, actually public safety is at risk when we don't sleep well. If they told you you're about to get on a plane, and they say, “Well, this pilot is not sleeping enough, a little bit, but I think we should be able to get to our destination,” you'll be like, “No, not really,” right?

And there are stories of airline crashes, of train wrecks, of ghastly, deadly road traffic accidents that occurred because the person operating these cars or airplanes were sleeping. And so, the public risk is also high. Even as doctors, right? There are a high rate of medical errors occurring when physicians are sleep deprived. As physicians, we have a lot of work to do in that space.

But yeah, there's a whole lot that doesn't go well. Enough for us to say, “Okay, I think this is something we should make a priority.” I would say so far, at least with my experience, there has been an improvement in that changing narrative. Where sleep deprivation and hustle culture and exhaustion as a badge of honor, I'm seeing that there's starting to be a shift in that. Where people are starting to see sleep differently. And so, that's good.

Kristi: As I was listening to you talk about this, I was thinking, there's probably nobody listening to this that says, “I would love to take all those things and have those risks for myself, if there's an alternative,” right? And one of the things I think has been really fun as I've gotten to know you, is you’re a national/international speaker, and I've been so lucky to hear you speak.

And I love that you brought up that quote from Ariana Huffington about, ‘exhaustion is not a badge of honor, but it's a sign of chaos.’ When I think about that hustle culture that you and I have been a part of, and that is sort of a part of the world sometimes, what I wonder is, what's your take on why people who know that sleep is paramount, why they still struggle to prioritize it?

Funke: You're right, because if we think about it, if they tell you, “There's a pill that's going to fix all these things, and you only need to take it eight hours every day,” you would pop it. But for some reason, the pill is just sitting on our bedside table as we're either responding to emails or scrolling on social media. So, there are many reasons why.

I think one reason, especially as women I would say, even for men too, is that many times we define ourselves by our productivity, right? To now say you're carving out, I don't know, maybe eight hours, maybe seven hours, depending on what camp you're in, it seems like a waste of time. A waste of productive time spent sleeping, when I could be really doing my work, getting things done, showing how productive I am. So, we often mix that up and we define ourselves by that outcome.

The other piece is, sometimes it's competing priorities, right? And once you start to have 2, 3, 4 priorities, you don't have any priority. So, we need to prioritize our priorities. Many times we don't. We're juggling so many pieces from kids and work and other obligations, and things like that, that eventually sleep is something that just kind of takes the backseat.

I would say another reason would be our boundaries, difficulties with setting the right boundaries. Oh, gosh, as a high achievers and people pleasers… I'm still a high achiever, but I'm a recovering people pleaser… it's hard to say no. You feel like you're letting people down. And so, you'll take that on. You'll take on that extra shift. You'll take on that extra call. You will pick up the phone at 10pm because somebody wants to tell you about a situation.

And so, that is another reason why I think many times we're really not able to prioritize sleep. And then I would say, sometimes it's also the lack of awareness in some situations, right? I had a colleague who had, for instance, he had sleep apnea; which is difficulty processing breathing during sleep. And never, ever was told, by initial doctors he saw, they never really told him all the really, really scary consequences of untreated sleep apnea.

He went to see a dentist because he couldn't tolerate the CPAP. And the dentist told him, “You might have a stroke, your blood pressure has been climbing up, and that's probably where all the struggles are.” He had never been taught like that. So, sometimes that lack of awareness can get in the way as well.

Kristi: For many of my clients, they will say things like, “Well, there are certain times a year, or just every month, lots of things going on with work or more deadlines, or things going on with my kids. And I'm trying to fit it in a little bit of exercise and cooking healthy meals, and doing this and doing that, and instruments for my kids and sports for my kids, and work and picking up the shift for the person who's on maternity leave…” they talk fast, just like that when they talk about this.

And when it comes to how they can prioritize themselves, they think, “Well, I need better sleep.” But when they look at their day, they're kind of puzzled. “Where would I put it in, unless I let something else that I also value go?” I wonder if we could paint a picture for what it might look like for somebody who wants to set some boundaries, but struggles with it?

What might it look like for the average person to set a boundary such that their sleep, it was now non-negotiable. Like it happens, whatever number of hours, it happens, and there's some time before and some time after to frame this beautiful sleep. But what might it look like to set some boundaries to make it non-negotiable?

Funke: I will start with, this is something I try to paint with a lot of clients I work with. To say, “Think of this. We've listed like a whole bunch of stuff that sleep does for you.” That's when you're literally meeting with a multidisciplinary clinic.

Let me list them. You're seeing a neurologist for your brain health. You're seeing a therapist for your emotional balance, and a psychiatrist as well. You'll see an endocrinologist to help with regulating your hormones and the insulin and the cortisol, and things like that. You're seeing a physical therapist for all your muscle repair and tissue repair. You're seeing an immunologist for your immune system and all that good stuff.

This is a big clinic. All these specialists, they want to make life easy for you, and they’re all going to show up for one appointment. Literally, if you had that kind of clinic and you were on your way to that clinic, and your friend says, “Hey, can you just give me a ride? I’ve got to pick up some laundry,” something of that sort.

You would be like, “You know what? Let me get back to you. I'm going to show up for this appointment. Just really get myself checked out by this incredible multidisciplinary team, and I will be in a better shape to drive you anywhere you want.” That team is showing up for you every night, and they're waiting on you.

And so, when you think like that, “Hmm, a crankier version of me driving my friend” or the kids or doing all these other things, “versus a better rested version of me?” All of a sudden, you don't want to miss that appointment anymore. And so, set that and make it stay and start there.

What does that look like in real terms? Imagine that you're supposed to get seven hours of sleep. Or maybe you're getting only five and you want to move up to six. Start from somewhere. Right? And like you said, pretty much bookend it. Create a system in place to say, “If I need to show up for sleep, and my bed time typically is about 11pm, what do I need to make sure I do, to make this happen?”

The same way I'm going to say, “I'm going to need to park in the parking lot of the multidisciplinary clinic. I'm going to need to walk up to the clinic itself. I'm going to need to check in.” That's your routine.

So, “How do I then create the bedtime for me to fall asleep at 11pm? I need maybe a 30-minute wind down routine.” And so, now just kind of fix that. For me personally, I have an alarm that goes off to say “start to wind down for bed.” It is going to change your life. Because I know if I just let things go, then things will go.

If you build that in and say, “Okay, I'm going to just make sure this is non-negotiable, because I realize how critical this is,” all of a sudden you start to realize the things that are less priority start to fall off. Because I promise you, all those things in your schedule, not every one of them is a priority. It feels like it is. But some things that probably can kind of de-escalate, in terms of its order of priorities, so that you can really make time for what's truly important to you.

Kristi: Yeah, it’s that idea of, ‘if everything is important, then nothing is actually important.’ I just have to say, I love that analogy of going to sleep at night being akin to going to a multidisciplinary office where there are all these specialists who are all there to attend to all these different facets of your psyche and of your body. Amazing. What a great way to frame it. Thank you for putting it that way.

When we think about sleep, I think about some of the barriers to sleep. Of course, there are habits that can be helpful with sleep, like setting better boundaries, and bookending, and things like that. But there are some specific things I hear from my clients, and that I've had myself and that you've mentioned here, that I'd love just to get your take on.

Racing mind before you go to bed. Or in the middle of the night you wake up, and you’re just churning and ruminating and thinking and replaying and going over. What do you recommend?

Funke: Usually, what I recommend is stepping back to see where this is coming from. I'll talk about what you can do to prevent it, and then what you can do when it occurs. So, most times, I notice that what happens, especially with a lot of women, is we've been running all day, never really got enough time to sort of de-stress and have that buffer zone, aka routine, to sort of unwind and check in with ourselves.

We're so exhausted, we sometimes skip that and we get into bed with a relatively high stress level, but then we're also exhausted. So, think of it. It's almost as if your sleep pressure is super high, your stress level is still high, because you didn't really navigate some of the things that happened during the day. But that sleep pressure is so high that you crash, you fall asleep. These are for those who maybe they fall asleep, okay, and then they wake up.

But as soon as you fall asleep, you start to dissipate, or the sleep pressure starts to drop. And then the stress rises and your brain wakes up. And that stuff was there all the time, it was there at bedtime, but you just kind of crashed through it.

So, I go back to the beginning of the night. And I say, “What are things that you can do as part of your routine to make sure you check in, really check in with yourself?” Whether it's you just taking a soak in a bath or a shower, and just kind of processing some of this stuff.

Maybe journaling; journaling is a big one that I love. And I’ll just say there are so many things you can do when it comes to journaling. There's no scripted one, find what works for you. Either it's a mind dump, where you just write in the things that are sort of buzzing a little bit in your mind. Or it's the to-do list of the things you need to get done the next day, that you know may potentially come up for you in the middle of the night.

Or gratitude, where you're just saying, “You know what? I'm going to name three good things. It felt like I had a crappy day, but I'm going to make my mind think of three good things that happened today.”

So, kind of create that space; it doesn't have to be long, maybe five minutes, maybe 10 minutes. But check in with yourself. Whether it's breathing in, taking some breathing exercises, deep breathing. I like you to do that before you get into bed, not when you're spiraling with that racing mind. Because now you're trying to breathe to fix it. Try to do that preventative stuff first.

Mostly, I would say 75 to 80% of the time, make that a habit where you're doing this consistently. Most likely, it's really going to help curb the risk of you now getting into this spiral where you're waking up in the middle of the night.

Now, maybe you did have a busy day, you really didn't get a chance to do this, or you're working on this habit, you're working on establishing this as a routine, and so you're waking up at 3am… Most women, there’s something about 3am... and it's either positive thoughts, neutral thoughts, or negative thoughts, they are interfering with your sleep.

And so, here are a few things I recommend doing. The first thing you want to do when you wake up like that is you check in with yourself. Maybe you didn't get to do that effectively at bedtime. Just check in. What's going on? What's the temperature of the room? Are you hot? Are you too cold? Do you need to use the bathroom? Are you thirsty? Is there a snoring spouse you need to put a pillow over? Just kidding. Just check in with yourself.

What you're doing with that, is you're getting yourself out of that thought pattern where you're either ahead or behind, and you're really dropping into your body into the present moment. And sometimes that might be all you need to do. That's beautiful. I address whatever the discomfort is; shift position, whatever, use the bathroom, take a sip of water. And go back to bed.

But if you notice that you're at the point where it is literally constantly; you're just up, you're really starting to have those thoughts, they're super intrusive and it's not letting go. I would say that's a time you just probably have to get out of bed. It feels uncomfortable, but you're not sleeping anyway. The longer you're staying in bed, you're literally training your brain to associate the bed as a place of stress and increased arousal.

You want to retrain your brain to associate the bed as a place to rest and just relax and sleep. So, if you find at any point you're tossing and turning, your mind is racing, you know you're not going to fall asleep anytime soon. Stop trying. Sleep is not something we try to do, it’s just something we do. And so, you can get out of bed. Just find something relaxing to do. “Okay, you're awake now, so I'm going to just feel comfortable with being awake and do something I enjoy.”

Whether you take a book, whether you want to do some journaling, whether you want to listen to a podcast, whether you want to do some crafts, or some knitting; these are just some ideas that people that I've worked with have tried out. Or crossword puzzles or things like that. Essentially, what you're doing is, “I'm just going to let this moment be, right now.” And the beautiful thing is, sleep will come, it will come.

The reason why I say find something relaxing, and something calming, rather than go back to finishing up those emails or go back to social media, when sleep comes, you don't want to be so distracted by super stimulating activities that you miss it. Right? So, this is something.

We call this “stimulus control.” Really, that's the term for it. You're essentially rebuilding that sleep drive. You're calming your nervous system. You might do some breathing exercises. But you're calming your nervous system down, and then you get back into bed and continuously think.

Kristi: Okay, that's such great advice. One of the things that I hear from my clients is they will wake up and they’ll be so frustrated they're awake, and they will, essentially, instead of just doing like you're saying, being like, “Yep, here I am, I am awake. I'm going to do the stimulus control activity because I am awake,” they will almost stew and fume, be so mad that they will get more awake. Because they're essentially fighting the reality that they happen to be awake at that moment.

Because it is, to their credit, frustrating to have that happen over and over and over. But I love that you point out the almost counterintuitive… “Let me just embrace and be present with what is, and then also do something with some stimulus control so that I won't miss sleep.” I think it’s so important.

So, you touched on something I want to ask you about, the snoring spouse, the snoring partner, and snoring person. When you live with a snoring partner and they wake you up. I get this question all the time. “What do I do? What do I not do? How do I plan? How do I prepare?” I know the answer is not the same for everyone, right? There are all sorts of things.

But are there a couple of things that you tell your clients who have a partner who is unpredictable, not every night, so they can't just go sleep somewhere else, but unpredictably, they start snoring and they get woken up by the snoring? What they might do in those moments, other than possibly smother their spouse with a pillow?

Funke: Exactly. We don't want to do that. But there are few options. I like what you said, if it's not habitual, meaning they’re not snoring every day, then it might be that they had maybe a drink, or they’re more exhausted, or they’re sleeping in a certain position.

Because if you sleep on your back, most times your tongue and the muscles of your airway fall back, and that might lead to snoring. So, you may gently just nudge them to change sides, if that's possible. Another thing I would say is, sometimes earplugs may be something to consider. I always have one on the side of my bed as well.

Sometimes a white noise machine, or something to just mask that sound. That's an alternative. If you have to sleep in a different room because you don't want to stay in a room where you're awake all night, and then you wake up in the morning and you can't even recognize yourself because you're so moody and irritable, there's no point. I give people that freedom, because we want to build relationships. You're not talking with this individual at night, they're snoring so you're clearly not talking to them.

Nobody's the better; everybody gets good sleep, and then you come together the next day, and everybody's happier. Of course, if this is something that's ongoing over a long period of time, where it's been going on for months, then it's more of a habitual snoring.

I would gently have a conversation about getting tested for sleep apnea, because it is a serious condition. It is treatable. You don't have to look like Darth Vader with a CPAP mask. There are so many treatment options available now, that you can have a gentle conversation to encourage them to get tested and to get seen for that. So, those would be some options I would say are worth considering.

Kristi: That's perfect. You got it. So, for all of you, you know who you are, talking to me about your lovely snoring spouses, that's what you can do. When I think about sleep and I think about habits, you've already sort of mentioned some of the things that are helpful for sleep, and some of the things that are kind of detrimental for sleep. Including the way we think about sleep, and the way we think about maybe saying yes to everything except to ourselves.

If we could take the most ideal sleep habits and just wave our magic wands and just give them to everybody… but we're specifically talking to the high-achieving people who are listening to this podcast… are there a couple things that you would say, “Yes, I would gift these you, these habits around sleep. This is what I would love for you to have”?

Funke: Yeah, that's an excellent question. Because if you look up sleep hygiene on Google, you'll see a whole list of stuff. And at times, it's like, “What is even important? Assuming I can’t do all of this, I'm just not going to do any.” So, I created an acronym, and I'm going to explain it. I just want you to take one or two to start. The acronym is: CREATE. So, we're creating restful sleep habits.

C stands for Consistency. That's really being consistent with your bedtime and your wakeup time. Because we all have this internal clock, or circadian rhythm, that is so hard wired into us. It really needs that consistency to remain in sync. So, avoid sleeping in excessively on the weekends. Try to maintain that consistency as much as possible.

R is the Routine, right? We talked about that. Just really cueing your body in getting ready for bed. It doesn't have to be complex. It could be, “I take a shower, I read a book, and I journaled. I take a shower, I speak to my spouse, I say some prayers, and I go to bed.” Just find something that you do habitually, that helps your brain know, “Okay, the day is done, it's time for bed.”

E stands for the Environment. If you have a room that is hot, that is brightly lit or noisy, it's going to get in your way of quality sleep, so you want to address it. You want to make sure your room is like a “cool, dark cave”, is what we call it.

It should be cool because it helps promote that brain melatonin production. It should be dark, so you can get a sleep mask or blackout shades. Because again, it enhances the sleep hormone production. And noise free, this is where either you have earplugs or a white noise machine or an old fan that just kind of masks out any external noise at all.

A stands for Assigned bed for sleep. You really don't want to be doing non-sleep activities in bed. Sleep and intimacy belong to the bed, everything else should be outside of the bedroom. So, don't bring your iPad, don't bring your laptop in, don't bring your dinner into the bedroom. Try to keep the TV off unless you're going to use it to, I don't know, some stuff. But try to avoid all that, because otherwise your brain starts to associate your bed with all these activities.

T stands for Technology. And a lot of us know how addictive technology can be at bedtime, and it does make it hard for us to settle into sleep.

E is really starting to look into things you need to Eliminate. So, could it be stopping a diet that's disrupting your sleep, maybe caffeine or alcohol. Could it be spicy, heavy meals? All those kinds of things. You can take a look and say, “What am I consuming? Could it be content? Media, news, disturbing news? Things like that, that get in your way of sleep. And so, try to eliminate that.

C-R-E-A-T-E. And like I said, you may just pick one and say, “Okay, I'm going to tackle technology for now. Over the next two weeks, I'm going to work on getting that out of consuming my time before sleep. I'm going to wean myself off this late nightcap, the caffeinated beverage.” So, just work on a couple and then build from there.

Kristi: That is so good. So, as I'm listening to you, I'm realizing that we should definitely have a part two. Because I've heard you speak before… And for the people who are listening who have things like shift work, or they do 24-hour calls, or they have other things that make some of this advice a little bit trickier, I would love to get into all that.

So, for the people who have things that are a little bit more complex, I just want to send all of them to you. So, go find the Restful Sleep MD, everybody who has things that are a little bit less standard. Because she does so much work with complicated sleep situations; I've heard you speak about it. To this end, where can people find you? If people are intrigued, they want to learn more about sleep, they want to connect with you, get your help, how can they find you?

Funke: This has been such a time. Time just flew by. I can't even imagine it. The best place to find me is on my website. It's www.RestfulSleepMD.com. And right on there, depending on what your needs are, I have a coaching program for high-achieving women and moms. I also have my clinical practices there. So, if you have a child who's having sleep struggles, I'm happy to see them.

And then, for those who maybe work in an organization, or you're trying to shift the culture of that organization, and you need a speaker to create a workshop, to help with facilitating, how do we make this a reality so we can enhance productivity? You could connect with me there.

So, that would be a good place to be. I'm also on social media @restfulsleepmd.

Kristi: I'm so grateful that we got to connect. And I know that we will roam in similar circles going forward, and hopefully see each other in real life again soon. But thank you so much for the work that you're doing. I wish I could go back in time and get the things that you have now into my own mind and brain, as a medical student, as a resident, as a young mom. Just hearing you speak, I think, “Oh, gosh, I know I hear somebody saying important things. I wish I could go back in time and have that knowledge.”

So, thank you for doing what you're doing. And thank you for coming on the podcast.

Funke: Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Do the ideas you're hearing resonate? If so, when you know how to bridge the gap between theory and application in real life, that is when you can start making real changes. So, if you could use some help in taking the concepts and ideas you hear on the podcast and applying them to your ordinary everyday life, that is where coaching comes in.

I help high achievers change their habits from ones that take more than they give to ones that they love. My approach to coaching is to blend the deep-dive work of Internal Family Systems with practical and actionable tools, so you get to the heart of your habits and to the root causes of what's making you think, feel and act as you do. And then, you have tools to make real life changes. This combination is how you can finally stop living on autopilot.

My coaching comes in two flavors: private coaching with just you and I, or small group coaching in an intimate group just for women physicians. If you're interested in connecting for either go to HabitsOnPurpose.com. If you're not on the email list, you should join it.

For private coaching, to see if your goals and my style are a beautiful fit, we meet by Zoom for a consult call. You can do this by going to HabitsOnPurpose.com/private to get more details and schedule a call.

Now for group coaching, the eighth-running of Habits on Purpose for Physicians starts in October of 2024. Habits on Purpose for Physicians, or HOPP for short, is a small group coaching program that runs for six months, with bit- sized content designed for the busy doc-on-the-go, weekly coaching calls, weekly office hours, an online community for 24/7 support, and accountability between calls. The group is capped to keep the community intimate.

In HOPP, I teach you about how to change habits like perfectionism, second guessing, beating yourself up, ruminating, and people pleasing, just to name a few. You learn how to leverage the good parts of your habits and ditch the soul-sucking aspects. We use IFS to help you get a deep understanding of what's blocking your change.

There's no superficial hacks, just deep-dive coaching and individualized help, so you can understand yourself and make the life changes that you want to make. You can turn your inner critic into your inner cheerleader and strategist. You can learn practical self-compassion and curiosity. You can convert your overthinking into faster decision making. You can trade in the underbelly of perfectionism for creativity and resourcefulness.

In HOPP you learn the skills of emotional processing, asking productive questions, and witnessing your own thinking. Go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/HOPP and then stay tuned. Soon, there's going to be an early-bird flash sale, where for about a week you can put down a deposit to hold your spot for the October 2024 cohort, before regular enrollment starts.

To recap: To get on the email list, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com. To schedule a consult visit, with just you and I, to see about individual coaching, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/private. And to learn more about the small group coaching program, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/Habits On Purpose.

Take care, my friends.

Thanks for listening to Habits On Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi: Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit HabitsOnPurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.

Enjoy the show: