The Art of Relaxation: 8 Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets for Satisfying Sleep


Dr. Maxwell Maltz, one of the first to tout the power of positive self-image in the ’60s, once famously said, “happiness is the art of relaxation.”

A good night’s sleep has long been linked to good mental health but experts in the wellness industry agree: It’s not just about getting eight hours in the sack but a good amount of rest and relaxation throughout the rest of the day as well.

To get you off to a good start, PayPal has put together some favorite tips from some sleep experts in the industry.

Create Daily Habits

It all starts with establishing some strong daily habits, says Julie Westervelt, founder of Sleep Crown, an over-the-head pillow product. She points to her own routine -- hydration, movement, spending time outside – as well as her nightly sleep ritual.

Julie Westervelt, owner of Sleep Crown
Julie Westervelt, owner of Sleep Crown

“I always go back to the basics when I feel out of alignment,” she said. “I cancel as much as I can to allow the space and time to regulate.” 

Mark Zhang, CEO (or “Chief Napper” as he likes to say) of Manta Sleep, is a self-proclaimed light sleeper. He said he prioritizes making time for naps, meditation, and walking his dog. More importantly, the main thing is to remember to relax and build life around sleep – not the other way around.

However, he cautions that the path to better sleep doesn’t happen overnight. For those struggling with sleep—either getting it or prioritizing it—Zhang recommends two books: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, and Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind by Nick Littlehales.

Picking up any book that you’re interested in is a great way to wind down, according to Ross J. Barr, a women’s health expert and acupuncturist out in the UK.

“With patients, I noticed reading is a huge barometer for people feeling peaceful and in a good place. When you are in a heightened state of anxiety or cortisol, you can't stay on the page or you just always feel like there's something more important for you to be doing,” he said. “But for me, reading a book is worth hundreds of pounds of sleep treatment.”

Get the proper support

From having the right mattress and pillow to a duvet that will keep you comfortably cozy, having the right products is key to getting good sleep.

Dan McKinley from Sleep Country suggests creating a cozy sleep environment
Dan McKinley from Sleep Country suggests creating a cozy "sleep environment"

“Over the years your body temperature will change and temperature regulating products can help make all the difference,” says Dan McKinley, SVP of Sales and Customer Experience at Sleep Country, a mattress and bedding retailer in Canada.

“Set up a sleep environment so that you crawl into bed and let out a big sigh because you are comfortable, cozy and your body is getting the right support and comfort,” he continued. “You want to make it a great seven or eight hours of rest.”

Sometimes, just the fabric on our skin can make a difference, according to friends and business partners Cassandra Cannon and Anne Lattimore. Together they founded Lake Pajamas, a high-quality sleepwear company, to ease their comfort and relaxation at home, especially as moms of infants at the time.

Aside from having physical support, people should make sure they are surrounded by people who can give them the mental support they need, said Ann Crady Weiss, CEO and co-founder of Hatch, a company that sells sleep solution products.

“Balancing my business and personal wellness is a priority for me so I make an effort to make the time from actually blocking out time on my calendar to exercise to spending time with my family,” she said. “I’ve also learned over the years that I can’t do it all so I never shy away from asking for help when I need it.”

Eliminate External Factors

It’s not just what’s in your bed that will make you cozy but what’s outside your bed too.

Try and eliminate any external factors that could impede your sleep, including electronic devices, Sleep Country’s McKinley said. He suggests shutting the TV off and putting phones away at least an hour before bedtime and he also advises investing in blackout curtains to block out light

“Find a way to wind down and get ready for rest,” he said.

Be Good to Yourself

Most importantly, the sleep experts we talked to agreed that throughout the process, it’s critical to be kind to yourself.

Kitty Shum, owner of Loti Wellness
Kitty Shum, owner of Loti Wellness

“For me, personal wellness starts with being kind to myself when I don’t feel I’m at my best,” said Kitty Shum, founder of Loti Wellness, a company that provides subscription boxes of wellness-inspired products.

“When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I stop,” she explained. “You might think that by not tackling the tasks that are piling up you will be more overwhelmed but I find that some time away can help you to refocus and fill your cup with the energy you need to tackle your tasks at your best.”

Adair Finucane, an Ayurvedic wellness coach and burnout recovery consultant, said self-compassion, meditation, and self-talk are key to getting past those tough, stressful moments.

“I put love and energy into relationships with people who see me as a whole person and support me when I get overwhelmed by my expectations of myself and my business,” she said.

She also advises being clear with yourself and others about your work-life boundaries.

“While rhythm and routine don’t come to me naturally, they’re worth working at because they keep my sense of competence bolstered and my overwhelm in check,” she said.

For more on why sleep is critical for success, particularly for entrepreneurs, check out our feature, The Cost of Lost Sleep.”

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