I know you've heard it. It's the lingo that's “hot" in the streets for driven adults between the ages of 18 and 45.
“Girl I don't need sleep! I'm grinding!"
“Sleep is for the dead!"
“Poor people sleep. I'll sleep when I'm dead."
WHAT?! Okay, wait a minute. Rewind. Please.
I've heard those statements so many times over the last five years that it started to make me feel rather unworthy inside.
I started having thoughts of inferiority and was riddled with contemplation that I was somehow less strong, less talented and less incredible than my sleep deprived peers.
But why? Because I wasn't up every night until 3 A.M. “working" on my dreams before jumping back up three hours later and hitting the day job? Well…yes. The social media standard of a hard-working individual making things happen for themselves became the real life standard. And if you were a SUPER entrepreneur like everyone was claiming to be, then you most definitely were part of the “no sleep" club. Not wanting to be left out of all of the great success that all of these folks seemed to be having, I became a card-carrying member, please and thank you.
Social media had started putting a value on people's capabilities according to how much they didn't sleep at night, with many trying to one-up one another, almost braggadocious about how much rest they never got. It was admirable to go four days running on fumes. They even taunt those that went to bed before midnight.
I know, because I was a taunter.
I would laugh at people who DARED to go to bed when their body told them to.
Sometimes I'd even judge them.
That is, until I started to become ill.
My immune system just couldn't seem to keep it together, and I didn't know why! For months, I had a terrible illness that wouldn't go away, along with pounding headaches, patchy skin and a blah attitude. My energy was so low and I became emotional. I may have only been sleeping 4.5 (sometimes a glorious 5) hours a night, but I was taking herbs, vitamins and eating vegetables, so what was going on?
That's when I started to study sleep and the effects of it on the human immune system. I began to learn and study something that mattered way more than some extra dollars in the bank--my health and my very livelihood. I didn't realize at the time how important 7 hours (or more) of sleep a night was to stay healthy and fight off bugs, pathogens and disease. I then thought about how many years I had allowed myself to be fooled by the, “sleep when you're dead," advice. The same advice, in fact, that was actually breaking down and killing my body.
I began tracing my lack of sleep back to how easily I got sick. I felt bad not staying up late every night, but even worse when I did. I decided that if I wanted to be successful and healthy, things had to change, and since I love my body and want to live to see my success, they did! I'm here to tell you that you can be successful AND take care of yourself at the same time. You have to be wise and practical.
Sometimes women feel guilty for caring for themselves first and put it on the backburner for the greater good of the cause, but that's not always the best approach.
Women on average, need more sleep than men--don't feel slighted, it's science. A study at Duke University showed that we women suffer more than our male counterparts both physically and mentally when we “shade" our rest. Recall above when I shared how my health AND emotions were suffering due to my constant (and then proud) lack of sleep. That's because sleep affects the brain!
The article continued, “As well as a higher risk of heart disease, depression and psychological problems, sleep-deprived women have extra clotting factors in their blood, which can lead to a stroke. They also have higher inflammation markers, which indicate developing health problems." Ummm, uh-oh.
You do not have to compete with men in this area, and you're not made to. For a better overall sense of wellness, get your rest. If you want to compete, you'll do it much better with a clear mind. Here are some tips on how to sneak a few extra z's into your schedule without he guilt trip of not doing enough.
1. BALANCE. Do what works for YOU!
You know what your body can and can't handle. Always be honest with yourself. If you feel yourself coming under the weather, try to shorten your wake time and get some much-needed sleep so you can feel great and tackle your projects again. Trust that a healthier, more alert you is a better, smarter you. You always want to be at your best when you have your business hat on. Plus, your skin looks SO much better when you're getting proper sleep.
2. Yes, go ahead and burn the midnight oil, but not every night.
Don't be irresponsible and not get the things done that need to get done. That's the worst because it can cause anxiety or create dire consequences in the long-run. However, use body wisdom and make enough time for adequate sleep or take naps when you are able. Sometimes there are deadlines and you may only get five hours in the sack on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Hey, you're working on your awesome next best-selling novel! I get it. Just make sure that on Thursday afternoon, you embrace that welcomed two-hour nap. Guess what? You can still be a Superwoman with over six hours of sleep.
3. Stop allowing others actions to dictate your level of success.
4. Remember that sleeping is used by the body to repair, rebuild and strengthen you.
Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania walks us through the three (which was once four) stages of sleep in addition to REM sleep, and what takes place inside of your body during this sacred time. Within these stages, your heart and vascular system get the rest they call for. Your brain also uses pillow time to get smarter. While sleeping? Yes! A lot is going on during our nocturnal visits!
Sleeping forms the pathways in our brains for memory and learning. Don't just take my word for it. You might be reading this, shaking your head thinking, “This is impractical. You don't know how busy my life is!" I urge you to read the articles and studies…unless it's time for bed of course, which in that case, please pick back up on this with your cereal in the morning.
I am NOT saying go to bed at 10 every night; I certainly don't. But what I am encouraging is that you evaluate your schedule and see what can be adjusted to allow yourself the much-needed sleep that your body was made to have. That might mean midnight for some and 3 A.M. for the rest, which is fine if you know that you will be able to sleep for more than 5 hours when you do go to bed. The truth is some of us have our businesses to attend to and at night is truly the only time we can devote to it.
Others have schoolwork for a master's degree to finish, kids to tend to, and other extremely important life responsibilities that must be taken care of after hours. Sleep to busy people can feel like a set-back or a curse! But it's far from a curse; it's a biological need! I used to think that by sleeping, I was missing out on something. Well I was--my well-being.
I've learned to rest when my body calls me to and no longer spend weeks at a time blazing through life shunning my yummy sleep when I can help it. This is not to say that I don't struggle with this sometimes, but I quickly get myself back in check. I've become much more in tune with myself, and it's made me a more balanced, happier spirit. I want the same for you. So take care of you. Let's take care of each other.
Helpful Tips For Better Sleep
- Log off of the computer/cell phone/social media at a reasonable time.
- Make sure that the room you sleep in is both dark and slightly cool.
- Trouble relaxing into a good night's rest but want to stay away from all meds? Try sprinkling a few drops of either lavender or chamomile essential oil to your pillow and inhale. No need to drench your pillow; less is more. The aroma can make for an awesome quieting of the soul. The pillow not enough? Then also dab some of that precious, calming oil onto your wrists, behind your ears and even your scalp for a total, “AAAAAAHHHHH!!!" affect!
- Troubled mind at night? Try “thanking" your way into sleep. No matter how rough your day is you can always find matters to be grateful for. I've counted my blessings right into a peaceful, happy sleep on several occasions.
Now go get your zzz's and never allow yourself to feel guilty about it!
Miesha Lynn is a free spirited writer and owner of a private consulting business. She adores the art of whimsy and has a marked penchant for all things weird, outrageous and magical.
Featured image by Getty Images
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs