Sweet Dreams – Why sleep is important and how to get enough of it


20140116_211027000_iOSMost people really enjoy sleep but not many realize just how critical sleep is for your overall well-being. Sleep is the time your body uses to recover from both physical and mental stressors. 7-9 hours of sleep is perfect. Generally speaking, your body will tell you how much sleep you need. If you are fighting a cold for example, more rest will help you speed up your recovery. Shoot for 8 hours and avoid the extremes – 4 hours is not much more than a nap and 12 hours is more like hibernation.

I am a big believer in getting up early – like 5am early – so if you plan on waking up at 5am, you’ll need to hit the sack by 9pm to get your 8 hours in. Personally, this is a daily struggle for me. Even though I get up early, I don’t like it one bit. So here’s what I do to make it happen.

Stick to a schedule. Busy schedules, kids, and the many other demands of life often make it difficult to stick to a strict sleep schedule but do your best to hit a rhythm.  You should be able to work it out so you are sleeping/waking within an hour of your usual schedule.  Try to stick with it on the weekends too, if you don’t have any late night plans.

Plan ahead. I get as much ready for the morning as I can before I go to bed. Packing lunch, setting out clothes, find car keys, etc. This doesn’t happen all of the time but things go much smoother in the morning when I take a few minutes to prep the night before.  If you have trouble remembering all of the things you need to do – I tend to forget my lunch – make yourself a checklist or set reminders on your phone.

Commit to bed time. If you plan on waking up at 5am, your head should be on the pillow at 9pm. Under the covers by 10pm if you get up at 6. If you end up having a late night, push back your wake time, if possible, so you can still get your 8 hours.

Set your alarm. Set it 10 minutes early. The snooze button is your enemy. I love, love, love to hit the snooze button. If you do too, then you may need to set your alarm even earlier to compensate for slapping the snooze button a few times.

Track your sleep patterns.  Tracking your sleep sounds tedious and boring. It is. But it’s important because if you pay attention to your sleep patterns you can make corrections that will improve your health and your happiness.  Always cranky on Monday mornings? Not enough energy to exercise after work? Sleeping through your alarm? Some fitness trackers have sleep tracking components or you can use the analog method and just write it down. I use the Bob Betterman Weekly Planner to keep tabs on my sleep. Like us on Facebook for access to the planner.

And finally, some musical therapy…

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – the Eurythmics 

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