Episode #106: Sleep is Productive with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown

Apr 16, 2024






In this episode of the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast, I’m diving into the crucial topic of sleep and its impact on the productivity of busy moms. I have Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown, a sleep physician and CEO of Restful Sleep MD, on the show to share insights and strategies for achieving better sleep. She highlights the importance of prioritizing rest and introduces practical tips for creating sleep rituals tailored to different phases of life. Join us as we unravel the secrets to unlocking restful and rejuvenating sleep in the midst of busy mom life.


About Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown is a triple board-certified sleep medicine physician and pediatric pulmonologist. She is the founder of RestfulSleepMD, where she helps high-achieving professionals and their children change their relationship with sleep so they can move from being drained and exhausted to thriving in their families, careers, and relationships.She achieves this through clinical practice (The Restful Sleep Place), coaching, speaking, and organization consultation. She is a best-selling author and has been featured on various media outlets, including ABC. She obtained her sleep medicine training at the University of Pennsylvania and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown's Links: 

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The significance of sleep in enhancing decision-making, productivity, and overall well-being, especially for busy working moms.
  • Insights into Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown's journey from experiencing sleep deprivation as a new mom to becoming a sleep expert dedicated to helping moms and families sleep better.
  • The concept of sleep training for children and learn how it can positively impact both child and parental sleep patterns.
  • Understand the phenomenon of "revenge bedtime procrastination" and learn how to balance self-care activities with the need for adequate sleep.
  • Practical strategies for quieting a busy mind before bedtime, including journaling, progressive muscle relaxation, and creating a personalized sleep ritual tailored to body, mind, and spirit.


Listen to the Full Episode:



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Click here to download the full transcript

  • Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Hey, this is Dr. Priyanka Venugopal and you're listening to the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast. Sleep is a productivity hack with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown. I'm so excited to bring you another guest expert on today's podcast. I hope that you've been enjoying the series that I have been doing for the past few weeks, where I'm bringing you guest experts in different areas that I know impact the type, a professional working mom to make your life easier, feel a little bit better where you can start to exercise more power over the areas that you have. If there's one thing I know, it is that women, especially type a working moms are not getting the rest and the sleep that we should be. And I've been thinking about this topic for quite a while because I myself for so many years, and I mean, even to this day, we'll find myself sleep procrastinating. I know that sleep is important. I know that the quality of my day the following day is so much better. My decision making is better. I feel better. However, I find myself at night once the kids are in bed wanting to just have me time scrolling Instagram or just chit chatting or watching Netflix. And inevitably what this has led to day after day, week after week is not getting the sleep and rest that I know would impact my life. Because this is something that I have been personally on a journey to improve. And I know my clients are, I'm sure many of you are. I decided to reach out to a sleep expert who is truly amazing. She's a sleep physician. She's the CEO of Restful Sleep MD, where she coaches clients who are busy moms with busy brains to sleep better, to talk to us today about how and why sleep and rest is so impactful. And also what I love about today's podcast. really does give some tangible tips on how to create sleep rituals, given the phase you are at in your life, right? So maybe it's possible that you're in a season of life, maybe you have really young kids or young babies, and you can't apply every single tool or technique you learn about today, but just becoming aware and starting to pay attention to where we are sacrificing sleep, right? Might just be the small little 1% shift that you can make just for today's episode. I hope you enjoy today's episode and if you do make sure that you tag us over on Instagram. I am @theunstoppablemombrain and she is @restfulsleepmd. And let us know what you're taking away from today's episode.

    Also, I wanted to let you know next week, I am celebrating the two year anniversary of the unstoppable mom brain podcast for the really special episode. I'm going to be sharing. really very personally, some of the lessons that I have learned over the last two years, not just in my personal weight loss journey, because I've shared that in so many ways, and there's so many new listeners. So I will give you a recap in my journey to lose 60 pounds without dieting, crazy exercise and all kinds of gimmicks. But I'm also going to share with you some of the lessons that I have learned over the last few years. And I'm going to Just in my own journey that I don't know that I have ever really shared on the podcast. So make sure you tune in next week when I'm celebrating the two year anniversary of this podcast, and I cannot wait for you to take a listen to it. Without further ado, let's get into my conversation with Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown. If you want to reach your ideal weight and create lightness for your body, you need to have simplicity, joy, and strategic decisions infused into your life.

    I'm a physician turned life and weight loss coach for ambitious working moms. I've lost over 60 pounds without counting points, calories, or crazy exercise plans. Most importantly, I feel calm and light on the scale and did my life. There's some delicious magic when you learn this work and the skills I'm going to be teaching you. Ready? Let's get to it. Hey everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I am thrilled to bring you Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown. She is a sleep physician. She is a CEO of restful sleep MD. She is basically a sleep expert for busy moms with busy brains. And I cannot wait to really get into everything as it pertains to sleep for the high achieving professional mom. One of the reasons I actually even reached out to Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown is because I was talking with a friend of mine around sleep and how sleep is one of these overlooked. Variables, I think, as women, we know it's important, but somehow it's one of those things that we kind of, like, wing, we put to the side, we think we'll get more sleep tomorrow, and I think it's really doing us a disservice, and she really recommended that I have you on the podcast, so I'm so glad to welcome you. Tell us all about you and how did you become a sleep physician? 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah, no, thank you so much for having me. So my, you know, I started off, you know, like all of us, right. Medical school, very, very high stress. And I went to school in Nigeria. So that was, it was, it was really survival of the fittest. And so you can imagine what suffered first, it was sleep. And then, you know, fast forward to residency. And then during residency was when I had my kids. And so combining being a new mom in training. And being a people pleaser and wanting to do everything at like an A plus level, I just got burnt out very quick and it was my sleep that really deteriorated the first and it impacted me, you know, caused a lot of significant amount of anxiety and just really, really my performance that I was so proud of started to decline. And so, you know, I hadn't even done any sleep at all at that time, but that was one thing that I really, really needed to focus on. And I just, I don't know. I just felt like that was something that I knew if I could get a good handle on, things would get better. And that was what happened. And so I already had that interest. Fast forward, my residency was in pediatrics. And then I went ahead and did a fellowship in pediatric pulmonology. And initially, you know, I went into to do sleep because I really want, I felt like it would compliment my, Nairi fellowship training, because as you can imagine, a child with asthma or a child with reflux or a child with any kind of respiratory issues, not going to sleep well. And guess who else is not going to sleep well? Their, their moms, their parents, right? And so I went in thinking, okay, well, let me just learn the science and sleep apnea and other medical sleep disruptors and it just really opened my eyes. To a whole different world, which is sleep health. And so a lot of times when people think of a sleep physician, they're thinking, Oh, well, they diagnosed sleep apnea, but it's beyond that, right? Circadian rhythm disorders, behavioral sleep issues, insomnia, you know, narcolepsy, so many other issues that it really became the, the foremost part of my practice. To the point where I started my own business, really coaching, uh, Moms around this, because one thing that I saw was a recurrent theme was the families would come in and the moms would be in a daze. And, and I realized as soon as I fixed their sleep, the child's sleep issues, well, most times the mom's sleep issues improve, but not all the time. And so that really got me curious because I'm like, Oh my gosh, this was me. Right. And so that, that really filled my motivation to start really helping moms. And so the way I do this is I help moms sleep better. I, by helping their kids sleep better to start, right? If that's, what's disrupting your sleep, we're going to get that under control. And then we have time to then focus on what else is going on and help the mom sleep better. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I get it. Okay, so I have a million questions. I'm thinking about my own journey. So I, I'm curious, what do you think, just like right off the bat, what do you think about sleep training? Sleep training for the baby, sleep training for the little kiddos? Is it like a personal preference? Moms you choose best or do you have a like recommendation as a, as a physician 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: With the impact on the research, we know on how when children have disrupted sleep, how it impacts the family's mental health, family's work productivity, quality of life. I think teaching your child to sleep independently is, is an important life skill. The approach though, I would empower moms to decide, like you figure out what works for you. But if you are at a point where your child's sleep is disrupting their own ability to thrive and Absolutely your ability to thrive that there are options. And I think that's really what I lead with. Not everybody has to sleep train. If you're lucky enough, your child may just be this perfect sleeper that gets it. 


    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: And who are these people with the, with the lucky kids, my kids, both of them were challenging. So I, I don't know if I always just assume that everyone is, but, that's not true. I think some kids, some kids just start to sleep on their own. 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah. Yeah. So there is a, there is a personal piece to it. I just feel like it's a missing piece. Like you started with like many times we're just like, well, we'll just wing it. This is our lots in life. We just got to deal with the sleepless nights. I think when you realize that there are options and it doesn't have to be, you know, the, the notorious cried out really empowers you to say, okay, I think there's some things I could do to, to help this child and definitely to help myself. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yes. Okay. I love that you're saying that because what's coming to my mind is how often I used to think some years ago that this is just how it has to be. This is the phase of life that, you know, maybe the kids are not sleeping well, so I just have to live with it. Or for me, you know, when I was at my heaviest, I guess this is just, you know, my life is too busy to lose the weight I want. So this is just what it has to be. And what you're basically dropping here is that, wait a second. What if it was possible that you could actually improve your sleep hygiene and how your whole family sleeps? What if that was actually possible? Now you don't have to wait for the kids to get older or for life to get easier for you to improve that 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Absolutely. I love that. I love that reframe. Exactly.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Okay. So here's what I noticed, at least in my work, or this was my own journey. What I see with a lot of my clients who are all professional working moms, high achievers, it's not always, at least in my mind, I didn't always used to think I want more sleep. I used to think I just want more me time. So after a busy day in the office or labor and delivery call, or, you know, just, I feel like I spent a lot of my time doing things for everyone else or everything else, my kids, my partner, my hospital. That when I would get home, I just wanted time for me. And even though I knew sleep was probably really important, I would way rather just read a book or scroll my phone, get on Instagram, and just almost like mindlessly, and for me, it was also eat, snack, you know, have a glass of wine. So what do you say about that element of it? Where we know that sleep is so important, but we're kind of procrastinating on sleep to do these kinds of little love, you know, lovely things that feel good in the moment. 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah, no, so you just defined revenge bedtime procrastination. Like that's what that's exactly what it is. If you look at it in a book, right? So it's really sacrificing sleep for things that seem to be meaningful to us, right? Which is me time. And I think really starts with the fact that. We all do as busy women after a busy day of serving and pouring into everybody's else's cup. We all deserve to have that time, but I think you have to be strategic about it because what you don't want is that little bowl of ice cream becoming a whole pint, that little glass of wine becoming the, you know, you're right at the bottom of the bottle, that series or that show you wanted to watch on Netflix becoming like the end of the entire series, right? And it's 1am and then you're now pissed off with yourself. And then you start the cycle over. Because now you are short on sleep and then now you're starting the day with your cup or your, you know, your gas tank half full, right? So I think it's to step back and say, where is this coming from? Where is this? Why is it that I'm not able to create that time? Because honestly, if you're able to build pauses during the day, this is what I noticed with a lot of the moms I'm working with too, is because we are running nonstop. We've not had a moment to check in with ourselves to build in. Okay. Maybe it's just five minutes to breathe and just appreciate me. Maybe it's time. 15 minute walk around the block during lunch. Maybe it's just sitting outside to eat lunch. Like you can literally build those moments in such that. When it's evening, you're not so depleted and exhausted that you're now getting into this automatic behaviors, right? So I think when you can kind of build that in, you know, it limits the tendency to go to overshoot on your need for those moments. And then the other thing I would pair it with is building a bedtime routine that you. Sincerely do enjoy. So that might include, you know, watching a little bit of TV. That might include, you know, spending a little bit of time on social media, but you're better regulated. There's no like, you're not just all over the place because you've built in pauses during the day and those pauses don't have to be long. And then if you now have a routine, you pair it with something that Nourishes you differently in different ways, whether it's just, you know, lighting a nice candle or having a nice bath and listening to something, or, you know, maybe if you want to watch TV or you want to spend time on your phone, just being aware of that, aware of, okay, it's not going to be two hours, right? I think that makes a huge, huge difference. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I, yeah, that's resonating with me so much because I think when I kind of reflect back on what was the reason that all those years, you know, at the moment that my kids would go into bed, the kitchen was clean. Everything was kind of had quote unquote, kind of wrapped up. I would do this. I call this the evening plop down, you know, sit down, like plop on the couch with my Netflix show and the glass of wine and my cheese and crackers. And I mean, this is, I did this day after day. I mean, that's how I got to 200 pounds because I didn't do it mindfully. And what I'm hearing you say is. And, and I think this is very true, probably during the day I was running so much from patient to patient, from task to task that I ended my day with like, let me get it while I can. This is my, there was almost like a graspy, urgent neediness, like, let me get it while I can. And so like a squirrel, I think of like a squirrel storing acorns, like, let me get it while I can. I do this like motion with my clients all the time, like, let's get it while I can. And what we're trying to do is we're trying to store pleasure. , but what you're describing is how can we introduce mindfulness throughout the day in just a few minutes so that we don't end our day with that meeting, grasping us in the me time. And the second thing I heard you say, which I would love for you to get into a little bit more, is for us to have an evening ritual, a sleep ritual that we actually enjoy. Mm-Hmm. It's not like a homework assignment, like I have to get to bed by 10 o'clock, but it's like, let's just think about this. I call these rituals like what would a ritual look like? That feels so loving and nourishing. So how would you describe. A nice ritual for someone that does identify as an overachiever. Their mind is going a mile a minute that they can start to calm their minds down to prepare for sleep. 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Oh, I, I love that so much and I think this is so important, right? We, if you think about what we do for our kids, right? We're doing this bath time and we're reading and we're singing and the noise machine is on and the blackout sheets, and then we just crash. Right, like, and it is a, it is intense. Essentially think of your bedtime ritual or your bedtime routine as a buffer zone. That's going to take you and cue your brain on your body to say the day is done. It's we're transitioning now. And so what does that transition look like? Right? And this is where I want it to be as personalized to you as possible. Like you said, we must never script it. I have ideas and I'll share those with you, but it has to be things you enjoy. Like someone who's allergic to candles, please don't light a candle, right? Or someone who just, you know, they get hives if they're, if they, if they turn on really a hot shower. Don't, don't do that. Right. So really fine. I would. What, you know, deactivates you. And I really tried to lump it into three things. So body, soul, and spirit. And so for your body, think about it. What nourishes your body at times, it might be some stretching. Again, it might be a bath, a shower with some, you know, some Epsom salts or some, you know, magnesium salt, something of that sort, right? It might be just taking a walk with the dog, you know, whatever that is. So essentially you're, you're nourishing your body. And then for the mind part, it might be a little midnight snack, right? I mean, within sudden guidelines, right? You're not going to be binging. It might be maybe a handful of knots, and then you go on and start your routine. And I like that because you want to incorporate some kind of hygiene, especially if you've been sweaty all day or been with patients. So I, I like a bath as much as you can or a shower. And then, you know, with the mind. How do we nourish that? So that may look like reading a book, right? Maybe a paper book or, or doing some journaling, um, or listening to a podcast or, you know, or just connecting in a meaningful way with. Your mind in that sense. And then, you know, for the spirit, really, this is around, what does gratitude look like? So I love that practice of gratitude before bed, because you want to try to end your nights on a positive note, right? Or it could be prayer or meditation or, or something of that sort that really connects you with, with your spirit, right? So, Those three, then you sort of, I'm now presenting that menu where you can then pick one of the, one of one or two from each category. I think the key though, is many times people feel overwhelmed by the routine. How long should it be? Keep it short and sweet or keep it as long as you want, whatever you need, especially for a lot of women who may be, you know, me, like you said, hyper achievers, your brain is. just intensely going, going, going. You may need a little bit of a longer buffer zone, but if you're so busy that you don't even have time to do like a long winded routine, keep it short. Just find something, one or two elements of it to really enjoy. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah. I, you know, I think that this is actually one thing I've seen. This is something that A few of my clients have even mentioned to me where they know the value of sleep and they have finally got their kids are old enough where they're sleeping through the night now and they want to prioritize sleep, but because their mind has been going so much, they are, but they find themselves constantly thinking about tomorrow, did tomorrow's problems trying to pre solve tomorrow's problems is such a perfectionist tendency, or they're ruminating about the decisions they made yesterday and maybe they made a mistake on something or it didn't go exactly right. So their mind is really flashing forward and flashing backwards, taking them out of just being present in the moment. And because they know that sleep is valuable, then they get a little stressed out saying, Oh, I know it was supposed to sleep. So now they're. piling on stress on top of just this low buzzing stress. So what would you say to someone that knows that sleep is valuable? They might have even designed a ritual, but their mind is so active and it's going so quickly that they're not able to get into a relaxed state to fall asleep. Yeah. 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah. And so that's really that brain or that states where we say you're Tired, but wired. It doesn't mean they're not exhausted. They're exhausted. Right. But then many times they may experience this, like you're the switch, the light switch kind of turns on as soon as your head hits the pillow, as you process past experiences and what's in the future. And you'll really have no hard time being in the present. So I think in that kind of situation, again, started off with a routine that really, really helps slow you down. That's one. And I would say be forgetful. It into bed, even if you feel so tired, just taking a moment to do one, a mind dump. So with journaling, again, it doesn't have to be scripted. You can literally do anything you want when it comes to journaling. It could be gratitude. It could be a mind dump, like whatever it is that you feel is on your mind. That may clutter your, your mind space. When you go to bed, just preemptively put it down. It could be your grocery list or your to do list for the next day. You could do that. Now, when you have specific situations, especially worries, this is what I usually would recommend. I usually recommend create two columns. Right, so no 3 so 1 is whatever it is that you're thinking about as much as you can. Like, oh, my gosh, I don't know. I don't know how to get this grant in that. I'm trying to submit for tomorrow or whatever next week. Right? So you put that there. Right? The 2nd thing you're going to put is 1. One single thing that you can do either the next day or the day after to address that issue. You know, maybe I'll reach out to a mentor or I'll go to the library. I don't know. Whatever. I'll get a subscription to a new journal. Right? So one step. That's all you need. And then in the third column, you can then decide which one of, you know, maybe you've written a list of five things. Which one of these things are completely out of my control. Like I cannot control this particular situation and you just write right there. I choose  to let go. Right. And so there is something magical that happens when we take these thoughts that are buzzing in our brain from our beautiful brains and put it on paper and you look back and you're like, Oh. Is that it? It, it, it does something so profound to us. And so what then you're telling your, you know, your amygdala is chill. We got a plan. We're not going to solve all the world's problems tonight. We're going to go to bed and we're going to address it tomorrow. And you can keep that piece of paper or journal right by your lamp, your bedside as well, because you may not be able to, you know, include all the thoughts. So as other thoughts pop up or as you remember other things, you could just put it down, just scribble it down again. And so you're really reinforcing the fact that this is something that we're going to have to put off till the next day. So that's one big one that I think is very, very powerful. Another thing that I recommend too is, you know, we do things like progressive muscle relaxation. I think that is so powerful too really, it's almost like you're willing yourself to get out of that. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and kind of cycle you're running in my, in your mind to be present in your body. So it could be progressive muscle relaxation where you're tensing and releasing, you know, different muscle groups and just kind of working your way up. It could be, you know, doing some, some breath work. So some breathing exercises really just about helping you relax. It could be visual imagery where you are actually projecting and gently guiding yourself from just that spiral to a place that you actually enjoy. For me, it's any kind of body of water. So I could just go there real quick and just combine that with some breathing. So they're definitely strategies, but I would say if you feel like that buzzing is occurring before you hop into bed, just try and pause and see if you can. address some of those things and then, you know, take it from there. Now, the other piece I would say, and this is something we do for my insomnia program is if you are in bed and you are starting to feel that sense of frustration, you're starting to feel your, you know, your heart rate is rising, that increased cognitive arousal. That means your brain is starting to make an association between the bed and being a place of work. Marie or being a place of stress, we usually will recommend just get out of bed, especially if you've been there for a while. And you're like, man, when you sleep, come in, get out of bed and do something that you enjoy. Maybe go back to your book or go back to, or, you know, sometimes maybe play do a crossword puzzle, whatever it is, cannot deactivate you again. And then you could go back in to bed once you start to feel sleepy. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Hmm. One of my favorite things that you said, and this is something that I talk to with my clients about as well as controlling the controllables, but I love how what you talked about is like, what is not in my control that I keep ruminating over that I keep thinking about or worrying about actually writing down what is the uncontrollable and deciding I'm going to let this one go. And it doesn't mean that we don't care. Like my, the example that's coming to my mind is with my son, he's eight years old and I can't control. What he's going to say and do when he's going to say, I mean, listen, I thought one day, like I thought many years ago when I had a kid, I who just do what I told him to do. There's a rude awakening that it turns out he doesn't do that. So the lesson I'm learning from what you're sharing is sometimes he's going to say things and do things that maybe I'm not loving, but I can let it go and not let him go. I love him so much, but let it go. Like, let the worry go, let the frustration go because it's really depriving me of what you're talking about, which is mindfully getting rest. And the other one that I really enjoyed was making the list of controllables. I think I know what I used to do a lot is worry. Like when am I going a lot of open ended decisions when my decisions were open ended and I hadn't made decisions on things. That's when my mind would probably overwork a lot, especially at night. So I've now done, and this is for anyone. I want to invite everyone to try this, put on your calendar when you're planning on making those decisions. And so in that moment, when you feel worried, like, Oh, I have to, you know, sign the kids up from some for summer camp, like, Oh, remember on Tuesday at nine o'clock, that's when we're making that decision. And like really closing the loop. I think it's like one way to, but don't worry, we have a time and place that will make that decision. We're okay right now. We're safe. We can kind of let the worry go, which I just love. So the next question I have is, you know, when you think about. Um, the impact, especially for women, for professional working moms that are not getting enough sleep, number one, what are some signs and symptoms? And number two, what's the lasting impact for them to not opt to not prioritize their sleep and their rest in a meaningful way? 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah. I think you, you can tell right away when you're not well rested. The quality of decisions you're making as a mom is impaired and not just as a mom, everyone, because and then creativity and mood is something that goes down really, really fast. And they've also looked at things like response time. So you may be slower in terms of your thinking and all that. And so you can imagine how that would affect, you know, leadership. Your team dynamics, you can imagine how that might affect parenting and the kind of decisions we make or, you know, our abilities to be patient in terms of how we respond as well as empathy. And they've actually looked at these, you know, systematically where they've had two groups of people who were sleep deprived and not, and showed them pictures and really looked at They found that those who were sleep deprived were more likely to judge people harsher based on the pictures they saw, which I thought was very powerful. So you'll see that, um, you also notice a change in your, in your feeding patterns. And so more likely to have increased cravings for salty, sugary, crunchy stuff. I always say you're going to maybe go to the fridge and not grab a carrot, maybe grab a carrot cake. And so things like that, you'll see pretty much almost right away, um, in terms of long term, the memory impairment does persist over time, and they've seen some connections to developing Alzheimer's. Uh, we also can see changes in, you know, blood pressure, so people are more at For hypertension at more risk for diabetes, type two diabetes and obesity. It really, you can imagine if you continue, like you said with your story, like you continue to crave, have those cravings without having the ability to self regulate because, um, decision making is impaired how that can then, you know, resulting in obesity. You might also see increased susceptibility to infections and illnesses. So you're more susceptible overall. Unfortunately, there is, there are some studies that show that there's an increase. Increased risk of certain cancers, and I think the mental health piece is huge with a higher, higher rate of anxiety, depression, and unfortunately, suicidality in folks that are poorly slept compared to those who have slept well. I mean, that being said, there's a bidirectional relationship, so you're more likely to. Have poor sleep if you're very anxious and if you are sleeping poorly, you're more likely to be anxious. So it's both ways. So I think those are some key ones. We really usually try to draw people's attention to again, not to scare and to create added stress about to come from a place. Okay. This is really something that's worth paying attention to. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah. And, you know, I, you know, for anyone listening to this podcast episode, the intention of this episode is to just bring awareness. And, you know, my goal with, with my audience and for my clients and anyone listening is how can we empower ourselves to live the life we want in our, in, in however we define it. And especially for type a professional working moms who want to be, you know, feeling focused and feeling like they have power in their day, in their work life, for sure, definitely with their children, with their families. One of the things that I have known, especially because this has been me, I procrastinate on sleep all the time, is the decision making, the decision making capacity and like the threshold for irritability is so impacted with sleep. So I think for anyone that's ever said, Oh, I don't have time. to sleep more. I don't have time for more rest. All that's happening is you're just taking more time in your decisions, in how you do your work, in the projects you're doing, in every email you write, in every patient or client that you're working with. You just take more time there. So I always want to challenge this whole time paradigm, which is I don't have enough time. Or the other one I've heard, I'm curious what you think about this. I'll sleep when I'm dead. It's really kind of indoctrinated. Women, especially to overwork overproducing, it's made us kind of addicted to productivity, which of course now we have a hard time resting.


    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah. No, I, I dislike that very much. I think again, when we think about the more serious risks of poor sleep or insufficient sleep, it takes us there faster. We don't want that. And when you talk about productivity, one of the things I say is sleeping is actually one of the most. Powerful performance enhancing tool. So if you have, if you notice that you're trying something, you're trying to write, I don't know, like you said, an email or you're writing a book and you just find yourself just not creative, like the juices are not flowing. First, you may just not be motivated. And then we wonder, okay, could they be related to sleep? And then the second part is maybe because you're so exhausted. And so what I would encourage is stop. You could take a nap depending on what time that that is occurring and come back to it or go to bed if it's late at night and come back to it. And they've done this, they've looked at this in research where they had people learning like a new instrument. I think they were playing the piano and they were trying to learn a new piece and saw just how much faster compared to before sleep and after sleep, how much faster they picked up. Those pieces, and we're able to play the music much more fluently compared to before sleep. So use sleep as your productivity hack, actually, that is something that I would see for those folks that say things like that.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I love that so much. I actually even teach my clients. I do a quarterly strategy workshop where I kind of really walk through a strategy for how my clients lose the weight they want to lose. And sleep is a success variable in the formula. And it's the one that we forget about sleep. Like we always focus on what we're supposed to eat, what we're supposed to, you know, we, we focus on what we're supposed to eat or not eat to lose the weight we want. We forget about these other success variables. And just like it's a productivity hack, probably in the workplace and how you're making decisions, it's going to help all of these other areas of your life, including, you know, people are listening here because they want to lose the weight they want to lose. So I think that's such an important reminder that it's a productivity hack. It will be a productivity tool to actually prioritize sleep, which I love. So for, um, the professional woman between the ages of 30 to 55, 60. What's the optimal amount of sleep that you recommend someone getting? Is there like a range? I hear such a variety of numbers. What would you say? 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Well, seven to nine is the general recommendation we hear about, but I think that really creates some, some sleep related anxiety, especially with high achieving women. So I leave it open ended and say, The amount of sleep that's perfect for you is the amount of sleep that leaves you waking up well rested without needing to binge on caffeine and being able to stay productive and alert throughout the day. And so that will vary again, it might be anywhere from seven to nine. It might be seven, it might be six and a half. It might be a little bit overnight. So there's such a wide range. And I think the important thing is listening to your body and being honest with yourself. And so I've seen women say, Nope, I have no clue what you're talking about. I only need six hours and watch vacation rolling. I usually I do this fun. We call it a sort of like a sleep vacation where we say, okay, you know what? You don't have any. There's no one waking you up. There's no one. Just go to bed when you're naturally sleepy and wake up when you naturally wake up and almost at least 9 out of 10 times. They're like, oh, well, yeah, I actually needed, I don't know, 7. 5 or 8 hours, you know, and so that's really something to reflect on. And so I think it's, it's important to really. Listen to your body and just give your body what it needs. They're just a very few people, a few number of people that are genetically short sleepers. These are people that maybe they need just like five and a half to six hours. Most people tend to be around that seven to nine range. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Do you find, you know, this was one of the things that used to really get in my ways. I used to, I'm a big regimented person. Like I liked for there to be schedules and rituals, but I also know that, you know, my, when I would be on call at the hospital, for example, I used to be on call 72 hours in a row and I might get a call at 2 AM and then I have to go in for a delivery at 4 AM. And so what do you say to someone You know, I'm guessing that having a routine is, is probably better, but if you aren't able to have a routine because of the work you do, whether it's, you know, on call at the hospital, or maybe you just have a really busy work life traveling a lot, how does someone optimize for those scenarios? Should I be pre, like I used to, I remember I used to think maybe I can store sleep, I'll sleep extra in advance. So I'm curious what you think about that. 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah, no, that's a great question. I mean, a lot of folks are shift workers and we need shift workers. So what I would say, but then there are two different things. There's being a shift worker and having a shift work sleep disorder, which is an actual sleep disorder. Most folks are just sleep shift workers who maybe have some struggles with getting enough sleep. So I think the key is really making sure you make sleep a priority. So it starts with the intention and guard And try to get as much sleep as you can. So like you said, yeah, you can, in that case, you can preemptively try to get in some sleep. It's not going to be perfect. I would usually recommend it depending on what your shift work is like, if it's a rotating schedule versus a fixed schedule, really protecting your sleep as much as possible. So you're done with your shift. Don't go do grocery shopping. Just go straight home. You know, make sure that the, the, the, You know, the, the environment is as dark as possible because now you're sleeping. I'm talking about a night shift. Now you're sleeping opposite your circadian rhythm. So your body wants to stay awake, but you have such a high sleep drive. So you need to capitalize on that sleep drive. So going to bed as soon as you get home and trying to get as much sleep as possible during the day, you know, Waking up, if you're going back to do a shift the next day, maybe after, you know, waking up, going, running some errands, try to get a nap in again. And so I think that is really key. Now, when you are off, like when you're not on your shift, the days you're off, some people recommend what we call anchor sleep. So you may want to kind of try to overlap between, and it's a little bit complicated, but maybe not. You want to try to overlap with. Your shift and when you would have typically been asleep when you came back from your shift.

    So for instance, if you're off, but you know, like in a couple of days, I'm going to be back on my night shift. Then you may want to go to bed a little bit later. So instead of going to bed with everybody else at 10 PM, maybe you go to bed at 1 AM or 2 AM. Right. So you're not completely re synchronized with the natural, The typical time, because that will make your adjustment easier. And then another thing you may want to ask for is a clockwise rotating shift. Your body just naturally adjusts to that better than an anti clockwise. And really just being a good advocate for yourself. You may have, you may feel formal, but you really do need to protect that sleep as much as possible. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I think that that's, that's the key. What I'm hearing you say kind of in different ways is that prioritizing sleep has all of these innumerable benefits that you've been talking about. It has a cost to us to not be sleeping for our health, for our mental clarity, for our focus, for our decision making. So it's our job to prioritize it. And I think that that's, that's one of the things. And, and can I also just drip in here that like, it doesn't have to go perfectly the first time around, like we're having this conversation. So you might be inspired. Okay. This is the week I'm going to start sleeping perfectly. Just let it be a practice. It doesn't have to be perfect, but just becoming mindful and aware of how often, especially professional working moms are quick to, Sacrifice their sleep, they're quick to say yes to other things and say no to this, that this is just one area that we can start turning around, which I love. Thank you so much for that. So if there's any last takeaways that you would want someone to know today that they can practically start introducing, what would you say to them that they can maybe walk away with today?


    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah, so I would say, so I use an acronym that I think you can actually start today and you don't have to do all five. You could just pick one and it's the acronym CREATE. So how do you create restful sleep habits? The first thing is consistency. So have no consistent sleep time and wake up time. The second thing which we already talked about is having a routine, which is, you know, a few activities that really cure your body and your brain in preparation for, for bed. And then E stands for the environment. So you want to make sure that your room is dark, it is cool, and it is hopefully noise free, because all those things can disrupt your sleep. And then A stands for assign the bed for sleep and sleep in bed. So sleep in bed, intimacy in bed, but all other non sleep activities should be outside of your bed and your bedroom as much as possible. T is technology, right?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I scroll my Instagram in bed? Like, is that a no no? 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: That's a non sleep activity. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Ah, okay. So I need to have a chair. Whatever. Yeah. That's kind of what you're saying. Yes. Okay. 

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: You could do that. You could do that. But not, not right before you get into bed though. So with the appropriate time and self regulation, you can absolutely scroll on Instagram and then see, Oh, that's technology. And then ease, really think about things, you know, do a, do an audit. What are things that you need to eliminate? So drama, right? stress as much as you can. Caffeine, too close to bedtime. Alcohol, too close to bedtime. Intense, super vigorous exercise, too close to bedtime. Exercise is perfect for sleep, but not too, too close to bedtime. So that I feel like really kind of takes you through very practically how to optimize your sleep. And again, don't feel overwhelmed. It sounds like a lot. Pick one. Maybe you'll say from now, I'm just going to have a regular sleep time and wake up and just take it from there. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I kind of feel like everything today, this whole episode has almost been like what you were describing as a menu. There's a menu with so many items that we get to each pick from, take it through the lens of where you're at with your family. If you have really little ones, little babies, maybe you're going to modify, maybe this is not going to be, you know, everything may not apply, but also to take it to the lens of how might it, how might I protect the sleep that I maybe have been procrastinating on and, and, you know, have a lot of value. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast and having this conversation. It's been something that I'm always thinking about how to optimize for myself, but also to help other women realize how we just push it inside and we don't do it as much as we should. So thank you so much. Tell everyone how they can find you and hear more about everything you have to share with us.

    Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: Yeah, no, thank you so much for having me and for the work you do. This is so powerful. So I'm on, uh, I'm on my website. You could find me on my website. It's uh, www.restfulsleepmd.com and so on. There is just really different ways to work with me, including my coaching program. I'm also on, uh, Instagram and Facebook at Restful Sleep MD, so that's also somewhere that you can find me. And there, I drop quite a lot of information, just practical things to kind of get you started. 

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I love it. If you took away something from this episode and you're on Instagram or Facebook tag, both of us, I'm @theunstoppablemombrain and @therestfulMD. This is going to be so fun where we can kind of see what nuggets you took away from this episode. And we would love to know how you guys enjoy today. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It has been amazing. And my friends, I will see you all next week. Oh, I loved today's episode. I hope that you took away as many gems as me. I think that there were three big takeaways that I am taking away and I'd love to know what your takeaways were from today's podcast episode. Send me an email at [email protected]. If you had some takeaways and you're not on Instagram, or of course, tag me @theunstoppablemombrain. I'd love to know your takeaways. The things that I'm taking away are how can we start to introduce more me time in small, mindful moments throughout the day, so we're not in this podcast, graspy neediness at the end of the day. That's where I know for me historically, I'm like, now I need my me time. And like a squirrel, I tried to quote unquote, get it while I can, which is really overindulging in social media. And you know, a few years ago, it would be snacks and food and wine, which was really leading to a deficit overall in my life. So that's the first one. How can we introduce more me time in little moments throughout the day, so we're not trying to overshoot in the evening. The second one that I really loved that she shared was to think about really a sleep ritual, almost like a menu, and to address those three areas, thinking about our body, Our mind and touching on spirituality. How can we touch on all three areas so that we are addressing and priming our brain to get that high quality rest? And then the third one, I really loved her three columns where she talked about, what are the controllables and actually deciding, okay, I don't need to just make this. Decision right now, I'm going to at this date at this time, just make a decision on this. I don't have to think about it right now. And my favorite one, of course, was what are the uncontrollables deciding to let it go? Let the uncontrollables go. What I've discovered really with doing new things like this, like introducing new habits and new rituals is when we start practicing them and proving to ourselves, Oh, this actually feels so much better. We start to actually rewire our brain with new habits, not because we have to, but because we start to experience the positive benefits. So I hope you all enjoyed today's episode and if you did, definitely let us know and make sure you come back next week to help me celebrate the two year anniversary of the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast.

    I am so honored that you have been on the ride with me and I cannot wait to see them. Have an amazing day. Thanks for listening to The Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast. It's been an honor spending this time with you and your brilliant brain. If you want more resources or information from the show, head on over to theunstoppablemombrain.com.



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