This Sunday is the day we all dread, when we lose an hour thanks to Daylight Saving Time. Who can afford to give up 60 minutes of work, play or, perhaps most importantly, sleep?

To prepare us for setting our clocks -- real and internal -- ahead, I turned to Kristin Daley, a licensed clinical psychologist at Southeast Psych in Charlotte, N.C to chat about sleep. Sleep is Daley's specialty.

The quality of stress affects slumber.

When I reached out to Daley recently, it was to tell her that in my relatively new life as an entrepreneur I'm sleeping better than ever. (Gosh, I hope I haven't jinxed things.)

Why is that? Why is it easier to sleep when we love our work and harder when we hate our job or it's stressing us out?

Daley told me about neuropsychologist, Kelly McGonigal, who gave a TED Talk on how to make stress your friend, and research that shows how the body responds to stress has to do with our perception of the cause of stress. 

"If it is something we feel is our calling to do or adds meaning to our lives, our bodies will be a lot less reactive to stress. If it's your passion project, and you are thrilled to work 24/7, it will have less effect on your sleep," Daley said. "But if we feel the source of stress is outside our personal control, our body is significantly more reactive."

Put a "curfew" on your work.

But is it okay for entrepreneurs who love their work to get by on precious little sleep?

No, everyone needs good, quality sleep at some point, Daley said.

If you don't regularly get the prescribed amount of sleep -- ideally seven to nine hours -- you risk your health and your business, Daley said.

The effects of sleep deprivation on physical health are clear: suppressed immune system and dietary functions, she said. Too little sleep leads to cravings of simple carbs and less awareness of food that's been consumed, so that impacts metabolism. There's increase in overall compulsivity, which isn't good for those who have to make a lot of decisions every day.

"For entrepreneurs, sometimes the wrong decision could be catastrophic," Daley said.

She advises putting a curfew on work. No work emails past a certain time. No screens a few hours before bed. But work curfews are hard for people who who are passionate about what they do. They can become martyrs when it comes to sleep, giving up slumber to answer one more email or check one more item off the to-do list.

"I have a client who is a pretty successful entrepreneur, and his insomnia started before he started his company," Daley said. "His insomnia is almost part of his success story. It's like `I care so much that I am sacrificing sleep for it.'"

You are not Richard Branson.

What about Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo!, who said she sleeps three to four hours a night so she can work 130 hours a week?

It depends on your metabolism for sleep, Daley said. Some people are so-called short sleepers, she said, citing Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who goes to bed at 11 p.m. and wakes up at 5 a.m. 

"If your metabolism for sleep is naturally low, that's different than someone cutting their sleep to six hours," she said.

The only way you know how much sleep you need is to have times when you step away from work and relax, Daley said. It's called vacation.

Think about your accomplishments.

Daley also recommends you pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments. Take a moment to savor the highlights of every day. 

We tend to move quickly from task to task, not taking time to relish our wins, she said. Our brains will focus more on fears than our victories, so we have to work extra hard to tell our brains the good stuff.

Daley advises taking a few moments each day to write down what we've done and how we will tackle tomorrow's challenges. 

"If we don't have it in writing, our brains will chatter to us about it in the middle of the night," she said. "There's something about writing out a plan that gives our brains this wonderful sense of control and allows for rest."

You could also write down this date: Nov. 4.

That's when we get our hour back.

Published on: Mar 8, 2018
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of