Sleep is apparently a little known secret to good leadership that is critical to high performance and well-being. It is not just for beauty rest; there are plenty of leadership and health reasons for getting a good night's sleep.

It has unfortunately become acceptable and even encouraged in our society to stay busy. Nature cycles, and human beings are a part of this nature. When we disrupt our natural sleep cycles in favor or getting more done, we actually become less effective. Typically, because we don't take time to reflect on what is purposeful and important to us, we often find ourselves doing things that are not really relevant to our own goals and dreams.

Did you think, "What goals and dreams?" Some of us have lost sight of what is truly important to us.

We become addicted to to-do lists without holding a clear endpoint goal in mind. This is energetically inefficient and draining. There's typically no passion in this, and thus it becomes hard work instead of enjoyable. It can also take much longer to do when we are not focused. Also, because our society tends to devalue self-nurturance, play, and creative relaxing pursuits, many people feel guilty or invalidated by those around them when they attempt to live with more balance and restoration.

Well, it takes courage and vision to create space in your life so that you can stay healthy in spirit, mind and body. It takes courage to listen to your heart above the noise of the many distractions vying for your attention and your money. And it will take courage and focused attention to slow down in the evening early enough to get your mind and body prepared to go to sleep at a decent hour. Here are three benefits to encourage you to consider how sleep can help you to become a better leader:

1. Improved memory - Sleep helps to integrate learning. Greater focus and concentration improves with a good night's sleep. Great leaders are learners. Burning out your brain is not going to inspire anyone.

2. Stress Reduction - Sleep restores the body and mind and helps to balance well-being. When we are too stressed, it may be more difficult to sleep at night, and this can become a vicious cycle. When we don't get enough sleep, it makes it more difficult to deal with stress. Great leaders demonstrate a healthy lifestyle, as well as building their business. What good is having money and a booming business if you die of a heart attack in the process?

3. Bodily healing and rejuvenation - Sleep reduces inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with heart attack, stroke, premature aging, diabetes and arthritis. A healthy leader can be more productive and miss less time at work. A healthy leader is more likely to also be a happy leader. And a passionate, happy leader more easily inspires others!

On average, at least seven hours of sleep is best for most people. If you have troubling falling asleep at night, here are a few tips:

1. Start to wind your mind down about 90 minutes before bedtime. Avoid stimulating entertainment or intense concentration/study too close to bedtime. Meditation/mindfulness can be helpful in getting your mind and body to relax and reduces stress.

2. Avoid drinking alcohol, ideally, at least three to four hours before bedtime. Alcohol can interfere with deep, satisfying sleep. Skip the 'night cap' if you want to feel refreshed in the morning.

3. Avoid eating late dinners - eat at least two to three hours before lying down to sleep. It can help you to manage your weight, as well.

Life is not a sprint; it is a long-distance journey. It is shortsighted to abuse your mind and body as in the long run stress and lack of sleep not only makes you less productive, it can accelerate the aging process and even contribute to such things as Alzheimer's disease. Be wise. Be courageous. Take good care of yourself and expand the vision for your life - with purpose.

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at