Today’s #SocentOriginStory profiles a social business that’s working to improve one of the three key pillars of health. Along with diet and exercise, sleep is increasingly proving to be a fundamental, and often neglected, component of living a healthy life.
The founder, Chris Carruthers, aims to bring the Sleep Well Tonight framework to tired people everywhere. It’s a fantastic example of purpose-driven work, and also a testament to the fact that changemakers arrive in all ages and from all backgrounds!
As a well-timed bonus with this week’s interview, if you happen to struggle with poor sleep, or know someone who does, take a look at Chris’ new Sleep Well Tonight Kickstart Video Series. In three short videos she shares her story along with her top tips for improving sleep.
Now I’ll pass it off to Chris to share her #SocentOriginStory!
When did you realize you wanted to dedicate your time to work that would have a meaningful impact?
Originally I trained as an exercise physiologist and worked in cardiac rehabilitation, but at age 38 I became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. In the seven plus years it took me to recover, I began exploring and researching integrative and complementary therapies.
I began to practice meditation and expressive writing and slowly recovered with enough energy to complete my PhD. Now, I feel a responsibility to share my story and what I have learned.
What is your vision for the change you wish to see in the world?
My driving goal is to educate and advocate about valuing sleep as a key pillar of health, and support those who are ready to conquer their fatigue and improve the quality of their lives. When people feel healthy and energetic after meeting their own personal health needs, they can then can expand their focus to improving the lives of others. They have enormous energy to contribute to what is important to them, and society needs more of those people!
Public awareness is growing about health promotion and how poor sleep significantly increases risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression and mental illnesses. People are concerned and know that positive health behavior change in sleep patterns can reduce these risks.
Twenty-two percent of Americans experience insomnia almost every night, and 48% report occasional insomnia (National Sleep Foundation, 2015). I want to be leader in this health paradigm shift towards valuing sleep as a means to improving overall health, wellness and vitality!
How is your social business, Sleep Well Tonight Global, a positive force for change in the world serving this goal?
I help people improve their sleep using simple approaches and cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a technique that helps improve awareness of habitual thoughts and behaviors. With even small changes in thoughts and behaviors, people can improve the quality, quantity and timing of their sleep!
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered so far and how did you overcome it?
In Canada, people don’t expect to pay for health care services, so I had to learn to communicate very clearly about the value of my services, and help clients understand the benefits they will receive from their investment in their health.
I needed to find a lower cost way to serve more people who needed me. So, I packaged my two key programs into online courses where people who aren’t feeling well (or who are sleepy!), can access from anywhere on the globe and they can receive the information and support that helps them feel better.
Plus, I offer several informative free sleep resources on my website. This helps to serve the social mission of helping people improve their sleep, and it provides potential clients an opportunity to get to know me before hiring for paid services.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
I would pay attention to progress and watch for small wins and achievements, notice the momentum, roll with it, and let that energize me. Sometimes we work really hard and forget that the satisfaction is in the small moments.
Also I think that if I was starting again, I would get an MD degree instead of a PhD, but I would still be doing the same work! When I began, integrative health wasn’t mainstream, so maybe I needed to allow more time to build credibility through my high quality work, my unique approach, and my compassion. I care deeply about the people I work with because I have had CFS and understand their pain.
What are the top three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
My best resources are my colleagues and the people I serve, so I listen well from their wealth of information.
I also know where to look to get the most credible health information online (PubMed and Medline), and I stay involved regularly with my professional associations (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, National Speakers Federation, Global Speakers Association, Canadian Society for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Any advice to share with aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Find some mentors that can give you solid business advice. My challenge was that I had in depth training and experience in health care, but not in business. So I needed to learn about it, or hire and consult with business experts.
If you could have dinner with 3 people (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
Barak Obama – to chat about how he handles his enormous responsibility to lead such an influential nation, and also to understand his solutions for climate change and how it influences global poverty, world hunger, and the economy.
Mother Theresa – to witness and experience her ability to be completely non-judgemental of all humanity.
Bill and Melinda Gates – to discuss money, and our relationship and our responsibility around this amazing resource that has so much power in our culture.
What advice would you give to your 10-years-younger self if you could speak with her now?
Trust yourself. Not to have all the solutions and a smooth sailing, but that you have the ability and resources within you and around you to solve any situation, challenge or opportunity that presents itself.
And finally, if tomorrow was your last day on Earth how would you spend it?
I would insist that my loved ones drop everything and gather together with me for a final day in a spectacular nature spot (up high surrounded by mountains, trees and water), where we would enjoy the day appreciating each other and our shared experiences, and discuss the exciting next adventures for each of us.
Connect with Chris and Sleep Well Tonight Global:
Blog on Medium.com: https://medium.com/@dr_carruthers