I realized my startup might be killing me.

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I love building startups. Creating products and solving people\’s problems is what I do best. In fact, starting ChallengeBox was a completely unintentional side project and it\’s been fun watching it grow.

I also really enjoy working out. I run 15-20 miles and workout 3-4 days per week. I pride myself on being in shape and keeping healthy.

However this is really hard for me to admit… despite all of this, I\’ve realized my passion for building startups might be taking years off my life.

Running a business is stressful.  Every day there are hard decisions to make. The decisions range from balancing time with family and friends and work to ensuring you\’re making the right financial decisions to grow.

As much as I love what I do,  before now I never took the time to consider the impact my work is having on me physically. That is, until we began to look Fitbit data to deliver fitness challenges to customers.

When I looked at my data what I found about my health was pretty scary…

Stress and lack of sleep are significantly impacting my body:

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Here\’s my resting heart rate in beats per minute (BPM). A lower resting heart rate generally means you\’re healthier.

During Christmas I left the city and spent 4 days with my family. Amazing what a little rest and relaxation will do for your health. My resting heart rate came down from its high at 77 bpm to 66 bpm. Thats about 15% off it\’s highs.

It was shocking to see how quickly my stress levels change in such a short period of time. I quickly went from hovering the line of average to below average to above average.

Below is a chart of average resting heart rate by age and gender:

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And then there\’s sleep.

Most founders will tell you that they don\’t sleep a lot. In fact, it in some circles it\’s a badge of honor. In my case it\’s not something I enjoy. Right now I\’m on this weird sleeping schedule where I just end up falling asleep for a few hours and then waking up in the middle of the night.

 

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There are an increasing number of studies that show lack of sleep has a negative impact on mental, emotional and physical well being.

Between higher sustained stress levels, and lack of sleep I\’m probably at higher risks for the following:

  • Getting colds more often
  • Alzheimers
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Aging Skin
  • Hair loss
  • Lower sex drive
  • Shorter lifespan

Yep pretty scary stuff…

There\’s a saying that goes \”I\’ll sleep when I\’m dead\”.  It just might be true!

So what am I gonna do about it? Well, here\’s my gameplan:

  1. Meditate every day. There are a few apps that are awesome aides for this. I\’ve tried both Calm and Pause apps to relax a bit.
  2. Get more sleep. On average I sleep about 5 .5 hours per night.  Currently my sleep patterns are seriously messed up. I fall asleep early, then wake up in the middle of the night until I can get back to sleep again.
  3. Unplug. Take a half day a week to do no work at all.
  4. Vacation. I haven\’t taken a vacation in years. Plan one.

I\’m also giving myself a personal 30-Day Challenge for February:

  • Average 8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Meditate for at least 15 minutes per day.

It\’s hard to admit that something you love might be negatively impacting your health. Stress can be just as impactful on life as neglecting to eat healthy or work out. However, I\’m pumped that I have data to actively work on fixing it.

What are some areas of your health could you improve? Are you actively doing anything improve them?

If you run a startup, or have other stress in your life don\’t ignore it.  Address it proactively to live healthier and hopefully longer.

Here\’s my Fitbit profile. You can add me as a friend or just take a look at my data.

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