Sleep Habits of Entrepreneurs: Dulcie Madden, Rest Devices – Somn

Sleep Habits of Entrepreneurs: Dulcie Madden, Rest Devices

In SomnLabs’ Sleep Habits of Entrepreneurs series, we talk with leading founders and creators to explore the role of sleep in innovation. This week, we talked with Dulcie Madden.

Dulcie is a co-founder and the CEO of Rest Devices, a Boston-based startup that builds software and hardware for parents to help their babies sleep better.

The Basics

Name: Dulcie Madden
Age: 37
Avg. Caffeinated Drinks Per Day: 1
Avg. Naps Per Week: 0
Avg. Hours of Sleep Each Night: 7

Dulcie’s Sleep Profile

Do you feel like you’ve “figured out” your sleep?

Yeah, but it’s changed over time. Back when my company was just starting out and I didn’t have kids, I would stay up late and work. I knew I could get by with four hours of sleep. But, when I hit my mid-30s, I realized I was more productive with 7.5 hours of sleep. Now that I’m a running a business and a parent, sleep is a bigger priority because I don’t want to be exhausted at work and a zombie around my kids.

How do you define “good sleep”?

Getting an uninterrupted 3-hour stretch of sleep.

What helps you wake up in the morning?

My husband is a wonderful human and wakes up early with the kids if the baby is up at night. He’ll bring me a cup of coffee and refill my water. (I drink so much water!) And, my kids come over to my bed in the morning. That’s the best thing in the world.

How do you like to start your day?

My husband and I are co-founders of Rest Devices, so it’s easy for us to talk about work first thing in the morning. But, now that we have kids, I focus my mornings on reading with my son, Sammy, and feeding my daughter, Mathilda.

Do you have any nighttime rituals?

Reading to the kids at night helps me relax and get ready for bed. And, I try to drink a couple pints of water so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night feeling dehydrated. 

Another thing that’s big for me is avoiding screens. I don’t like looking at my phone for any reason at night. It represents work. Like computers, phones are tools. And, I don’t want these things around areas of relaxation. Also, my husband and I go to sleep at exactly the same time. It’s important to us that we don’t have a separate bedtime and I can’t really articulate why. I just know that, if you have a partner, discovering how you approach sleep together is meaningful.

What helps you stay asleep?

Temperature is really important. I’ll make the bedroom is as cool as possible. Also, fresh sheets are essential.

What keeps you from going to bed?

If I’m really stressed out about my business or someone on my team, I won’t be able to sleep. Or, if I’m freaked out about a meeting and feeling unprepared. When this happens, I try to be super communicative about what I’m stressed about it. Just getting it out there – instead of letting it rattle around in my head – helps a lot. As a CEO, 90% of my job is communication.

How do you balance work and sleep?

I see sleep and work as function of each other. I need sleep to be a great CEO (and a great mom, sister, daughter, and wife).

What sleep advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Don’t discount sleep. It’s easy (and I did this for a long time) to erode your sleep because there aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s a tricky cycle to get into. So, give yourself time to sleep and learn what you need to do to unwind.

If you have trouble relaxing at night, it’s worth exploring yoga and meditation. When I was living in India, I did these things every day. And, because of that, I now naturally release thoughts and do breathing exercises that help me relax. But, something different may work for you. Find a practice that helps you process stress.

Read more Sleep Habits of Entrepreneurs Series…

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