One of the top complaints I am hearing from my clients, colleagues and friends is, “I just can’t sleep.” Can you relate? I can too. Although sleep is something I fight hard for, the uncertainty of today’s new “business unusual” is enough to keep anyone up at night.

There is no doubt about it, these are unprecedented, and yes – scary times we are living in. Stress is at an all-time high with all of the uncertainty in today’s world. Some business leaders are reeling from job loss, while others are working longer hours than ever before trying to meet the changing needs and keep their businesses afloat.

If your high stress is affecting your sleep, you are not alone.

Whether your problem is you can’t fall asleep, or you can’t stay asleep, or you just can’t seem to shut off your mind, a poor night’s sleep affects your day.

I am passionate about getting good sleep as I struggled with it for many years. It took research, reflection, and a long-term commitment to changing my sleep habits. I was able to overcome my sleepless nights and for the last three years I have been consistently sleeping an average of 8+ hours a night.

There is one sleep rule I incorporated that finally made the difference. The 8 p.m. Sleep Rule. It is the #1 Sleep Rule that I work hard to follow consistently. When I do, I beat my stress, and enjoy consistent, quality sleep.

Here’s what it looks like. At 8 p.m. do these three things:

  1. Stop the work talk. This is critical. I found my sleep was disrupted the most due to this issue – talking about work, either work problems or opportunities before bed. Both gets your mind in a mode of active thinking, list building, or problem solving. When you prepare for a good night’s sleep you want to wind the mind down, not amp it up. This is especially hard when you work with your spouse as I do. I recommend setting a time that you agree you will no longer talk about work. We set the time of 8 p.m. and make a pact to keep this rule.
  2. Feed your mind with positivity. In the last couple of hours before bed, avoid filling up on negativity. You want to prevent anything that puts your mind in a negative state before going to sleep. Save your deep conversations or disagreements to settle for another time. When you are thinking negative thoughts, you are likely to lay and ruminate over them. Instead, feed your mind with positive thoughts. Ask yourself what went well during your day. Think about what you appreciate.
  3. Boost your natural rhythm with dark and light. My 8 p.m. rule includes turning down the lights. You may not know that your body has a circadian rhythm that it would like to follow naturally. Back in the days before electricity and alarm clocks, people would wake with the sun and go to bed when it got dark. Use the benefits of morning and evening light to improve your sleep. Dim the lights in the evening, and in the morning open things up and turn them on bright.

A good night’s sleep is critical for your wellbeing, and will help you to perform at your best. Keeping a consistent evening routine makes the difference, especially in times of high stress. Use my 8 p.m. rule to let go of your day, and prepare your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.


  • Janelle Bruland

    Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Co-Founder of Legacy Leader

    Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.
    Janelle is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Washington and is married with five children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, as well as keeping fit through various sports and activities.