I am CEO

Physician and Founder Empowers High-Achieving Women Through Sleep

Full Episode from I AM CEO Podcast - IAM2032

In this episode, we have Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown, a triple board-certified sleep medicine physician and pediatric pulmonologist.

Dr. Funke discusses the importance of sleep health, and she shares her personal journey from chronic exhaustion to discovering the power of rest.

She talks about her RestfulSleepMD practice where she helps high achieving women and their children to improve their sleep quality.

Dr. Funke also shares her philosophy on creating impact that aligns with personal values without sacrificing wellness or peace.

Website: www.restfulsleepmd.com

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Full Interview:


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Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown Teaser 00:00

I found myself almost at the point where I was completely burnt out. I was anxious and exhausted, and that motivated me to say, Okay, something needs to change because I'm not gonna last if I continue with this version of myself. And so I discovered how powerful sleep was and how much of it I had lost.

And so I started to set boundaries for my own well-being and work on improving my sleep as a way of improving my self-care. And that changed everything.

Intro 00:29

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I Am CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 01:03

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown. Dr. Funke, it's great to have you on the show.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 01:13

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 01:16

Yes. Super excited to have you on and talk about all the awesome things that you're doing. And of course, before we jumped into doing that, I want to read a little bit more about Dr. Funke so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Dr. Funke is a triple board-certified sleep medicine physician and pediatric pulmonologist. She is the RestfulSleepMD where she helps high-achieving women and their children change their relationship with sleep so they can move from being drained and exhausted to thriving in their families, careers, and relationships.

She achieves this through her clinical practice, coaching, speaking, and organizational consultation. She is a bestselling author and has been featured on various media outlets, including ABC.

She obtained her sleep medicine training at the University of Pennsylvania. And what I absolutely love about Dr. Funke is that she talked a little bit about in an interview that I was reading that her dad was a civil engineer with a PhD in concrete engineering. And her mom was also a librarian.

And it said, it taught her a lot about in hard work and how important that is. And I think going through all the awesome content that she creates and has across her YouTube, and you learn so much and I'm definitely going to binge this like a Netflix series once, I get the opportunity to do that.

But I think so many times when you think about sleep, you don't think about it being something that you could work at. So I really appreciate all the awesome work that you're doing. Dr. Funke appreciated even more that we're going to have a great conversation.

Are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 02:40

Yes. Yes. I'm so thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:44

Yes, absolutely. So to kick everything off, what I wanted to do was rewind the clock a little bit, and hear a little bit more on how you got started. What I call your CEO story.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 02:52

Yeah. So, I think I knew I realized sleep was a thing right from when I was in, I would say medical school, right? As a physician and I connect that really to CEO to leaders of organizations, right? Sleep is just not a thing because there's so much more of the world you want to conquer.

And so I tried to do that by burning the candle on both ends as a hyperachiever. I just kept pushing my body to limits that were unsafe and discontinued through my early training, through the first few years of motherhood and working as a physician.

And I found myself almost at the point where I was completely burnt out. I was anxious and exhausted, and that motivated me to say, Okay, something needs to change because I'm not gonna last if I continue with this version of myself. And so I discovered how powerful sleep was and how much of it I had lost.

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And so I started to set boundaries for my own well being and work on improving my sleep as a way of improving my self-care. And that changed everything. And so it was almost like you see something and you really can't unsee the benefits. I really needed to get the word out. And so I started to talk about it.

And that motivated me to get my sleep fellowship and then I, I started seeing parents show up in my clinic with their kids not sleeping, but the parents are not sleeping. And it became more of a this is not just, it's not just about fixing the child's sleep here.

These are like sometimes, multi-generational issues and narratives that people have heard. If you're sleeping, you're lazy. You should sleep when you're dead. There's no room for sleeping. You hustle and grind until you burn, and so I realized I needed to move this to a bigger scale outside of the four walls of my exam room.

And so that was where I started Restful Sleep MD, where I really focused on high-achieving women because I know what it's like to feel like you're a superwoman and the savior of the world and not ever giving time for yourself. And so, I've done this through so many avenues like I talked about.

So I'm speaking on platforms, I'm teaching, organizing workshops and speaking at workshops as well as through my clinical practice. And it's been an incredible journey.

Gresham Harkless 05:13

Yeah, I absolutely love that. One of the things I really loved, is that word relationship. And I never really saw sleep as a relationship, but it sounds like you went through that process yourself and been able to empower people to really understand that and understand ultimately how to have that better relationship.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 05:29

Yeah, no, I used to actually say, it's always about right. As this is a talk, we're talking to CEOs here. It's about that message. So initially I would say, yeah, I help people prioritize sleep. And it started to almost feel as if it was something else you have to do, like additional work.

But I realized it was beyond just prioritizing it. It was really changing that. In that narrative in our minds about what sleep is or what sleep does for us, sleep is our best friend. And so instead of seeing sleep as a nuisance, as something that you have to do at the end of the day, but really seeing it like a life-changing opportunity every night, like I have an appointment with what is going to help my brain, my heart, my memory, my executive decision making skills, my emotional intelligence, my relationships, right?

So it's not just a thing. It is the thing upon which most of other things are founded. There's really just as important as air, just as important as water and diets and food. Sleep is so critical.

In fact, there is one condition where you're not able to sleep and it's called fatal familial insomnia. So this is a very rare condition where you have a some genetic risks that puts you makes you unable to sleep on those people die within months of that diagnosis. It just shows that you cannot go without sleep.

So again, it's not just something to not just something to prioritize, but something to really change what narratives you're telling yourself about sleep.

Gresham Harkless 07:06

Yeah. I love that. And especially like looking at it from being like your best friend, because it does spill into all aspects of your life.

So I know you touched on a little bit on how you work with your clients. We'd love to hear a little bit more on. What that looks like. I know there's a lot of different ways that you help to reach people where they are. Can you take us through a little bit more on what that looks like supporting your clients?

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown: 07:24

Yeah. So I have a practice. It's the restful sleep piece. It's it's a direct care practice, meaning that I. Have this system where patients can get to me, not go through any loopholes or third party or anything. And we treat sleep from a very holistic lens. So we're not just saying, oh, yeah, you need to go get 7 to 9 hours of sleep.

We're figuring out why. Why are you waking up tired? Why are you having a hard time falling asleep? Why is your mind racing at bedtime? What is going on during your day? What has to do with boundaries? So it's a combination of clinical work and coaching as well. Sometimes it ends up people are coming in saying they're tired, but it's because they're doing too much.

So we help with time management, creating systems in place so that you're able to sleep. And so even though the end goal is to get you sleep, the end goal is actually to get you less tired, more functional, to perform well. And so, through that, so I see, again, like I said, women, I see kids and young adults as well.

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And we have different packages for that. Sometimes we may need to work on this for four weeks for eight weeks or so there are sometimes when you just need more of a strategy session. You're a high achiever You're like I gotta reset my internal clock because I can't get up at I don't know 6 a. m I need help with that and come up with a strategy for that But then sometimes it's a lot more mindset and coaching that we do. So those are different things.

And then also I organize, I speak at workshops and help with facilitating sleep workshops for organizations, employees, teams, where we do a deep in-depth analysis of sleep and have, I give you tools that you can use to kind of screen, if you have a sleep disorder, figure out what else is going on, figure out from a, from a really deep, Bigger holistic lens.

Like, how can we move forward? How can our performance improve as an organization without necessarily feeling like we're working less, and so some of those things are also something that I'm really passionate about.

Gresham Harkless 09:26

Nice. I love that. So what would you consider to be your secret sauce in the company and the organization is it that ability to be able to understand that, to understand.

Not just like how important sleep is, but just how that manifests itself in so many different ways. Like you mentioned, maybe having too big of it to do list. Is it that holistic part? Do you feel like that's what kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 09:49

Yes, I would say so. Again, I consider myself a high achiever, right?

I want to get to those goals, but I think I'm constantly, because I understand the impact of sleep and rest on my performance and on my well-being and productivity. It allows me step back to pay more attention to my body and what it needs. To listen to my mind and the thoughts that are coming up and really address them.

I think that's really important because sometimes, within this space, the people that are light years ahead of you, there's the sometimes the feeling of imposter syndrome. You might try something and it fails on you. You may just feel like there are feats that are really unsurmountable, but when you step back and listen to the narrative that's running in your mind, you'll be able to say, okay, how much of these are actually true?

I'm not a failure. No, I just learned one way not to do something. But when I'm drained and exhausted, I make myself more susceptible to those thoughts, those defeated thoughts that then it makes it hard for me to move forward. So, Ends up starting from a place of rest and sleep, but then it trickles into every other area.

Like my body might be tired. My mind is tired. I need rest. And then when I come back to that situation and say, Oh, why on earth did I think I failed? No, I didn't. So it really does change everything for me.

Gresham Harkless 11:17

Yeah, that's so powerful. And just, thinking, how that can manifest itself in so many different ways.

I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack.

So this could be like an Apple book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 11:31

They feel of them. Of course, I'm going to tell you sleep again.

Gresham Harkless 11:35

Yes, I expected that on brand, right?

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 11:39

Another thing I use as a hack, especially for someone who does, a lot of my work is through either telemedicine or virtual and things like that is I use naps.

I nap. So people, I'm sure if you go out in the space here, oh, no, you shouldn't take a nap. I use nap strategically. So when if I work for a bit, there are a few things I do. I take a break. Of course. So I may take a walk. I may walk on my treadmill while having a meeting. So exercise is good. It enhances and increases those endorphins that keeps you motivated.

And then also sometime during the day, if you're starting to feel that slump where you're tired and you're not feeling too motivated, take a nap. Yeah. So, Yeah, it's a ten to 15-minute nap, not too early, I'm sorry, not too late so maybe a bite, you don't want to nap after about two or three PM because then you're not going to sleep well at night.

I have a morning routine that really jump starts my day. It starts with prayer and affirmations. I am a believer, so I studied the word, so I spend some time reading my Bible. I'm just declaring the type of day I want to see and manifest.

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And then I exercise, so that's where I'll do, a little workout. And after that I I'll read. So do some personal development on my own and then I get started.

Gresham Harkless 12:55

Nice. I appreciate you breaking that down. So what would you consider to be a little bit more of a CEO nugget? We might have already touched on this.

But it could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice that you might give to your favorite client. Or as I like to say, if you were to happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 13:12

Yeah, man, it would be just keep going. It's not like literally there's that straight line of progress we think.

And then we see real progress. What it looks like. I need a weekly line, but. I can't remember where I read this. It may have been Brian Tracy, one of his books, where he said, as long as you're putting one foot in front of the other, you will get so destined. The only way you will not is either if you go backwards or you stop moving at all.

So. Keep going. You'll start to see it all come together. There will be moments to want to give it up. Of course, you have to be realistic with yourself. So checking in to see where you're going relative to where you set up in them initially. And if you're aligned with your goals, because changes will come, you may need to pivot, but don't give up.

Gresham Harkless 14:05

Yeah, rest if you must, but just don't quit. So now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO.

And our goal is to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So Dr. Funke, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 14:17

A CEO to me means creating impact in a way that aligns with your values. So I want to change the world. I want to change the narrative of sleep, but I want to do it in a version that's most authentic to me.

I want to do it without sacrificing my health, my wellness, my family, my peace. And the only way I could truly achieve that was to create a life that I dream of. I'm not there yet, but I'm very well on my way. That's what a CEO is to me.

Gresham Harkless 15:02

Nice. I absolutely love that. So Dr. Funke, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best people can get out of view, and find about all the awesome things that you are working on.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 15:19

In terms of where to find me, I'm on social media as RestfulSleepMD.

My website is restfulsleepmd.com. If you're wondering where to start with your sleep, you can actually download and create a healthy sleep habits sheet that I have on my website, so if you subscribe to my newsletter, it'll come into your mailbox and that's a good piece to start in terms of what are evidence-based strategies to even start to figure out this new thing.

Gresham Harkless 15:45

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And Dr. Funke, just to clarify too, you don't have to necessarily be located in physical area for you to be able to help support, right?

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 15:52

No, exactly. Yeah. You don't have to be. Yeah. For my coaching program, my clinical practice. Yes. But just get on a call with me first and let's talk. You can connect on my website and then we'll be able to figure out and navigate that. But yeah, and there's no, there are no state restrictions to my coaching.

Gresham Harkless 16:08

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I truly appreciate that. And of course, to make everything a lot easier, we're going to have the links and information that show us as well too, so that everybody can follow up with you, get that free downloadable and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Appreciate your time today. And I hope you have a phenomenal day.

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown 16:23

Thank you.

Outro 16:24

Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I Am CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Want to level up your business even more read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at cbnation.co. Also, check out our I Am CEO Facebook group. This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


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