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The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep – and How to Get One!!

As the kids head back to school and you start to settle back into the normal work week routine, it’s more important than ever to get a good night’s sleep. Properly resting and recharging your body will allow you to wake up refreshed and ready to put your best foot forward, both in your professional and personal life. So keep reading to learn more about the importance of a good night’s sleep, and to find out some quick and simple hacks on how to get one!

Why Sleep is So Important

We’ve all heard it before – we should ideally get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, come hell or high water. But what exactly does sleep do? Quite a lot, actually! We often just think of sleep as a time to rest from the day, but much more goes on beneath the covers.

One important function of sleep is to help synthesize and solidify our memories from the day. Sometimes our minds are over-performing and too busy to do this during the day, so sleep allows the brain to transfer short-term memories into “consolidated” long-term memories. This will help you better recall the minutes of the latest board meeting, your kids’ busy schedules, and the plot of that novel you read for book club!

Sleep is also an important time for your body to recover from illness or your latest workout, in addition to the daily wear and tear our bodies go through on a daily basis. More than a quick powernap can provide, a good night’s sleep can ensure that your body fully recovers from the day and rebuilds any tissues that were overtaxed.

Top 4 Tips for Getting a Great Night’s Sleep

Now that you know why sleep is so important, here are some super simple ways for improving the quantity and quality of your sleep!

  1. Stick to a schedule. It’s easy to get sucked into one more episode of your favorite binge-worthy series, or to stay out with your friends until last call, but think of your bedtime just as you would an important meeting: this is part of your schedule and should not be ignored!
  2. Avoid certain foods and drinks. It seems odd, but try to think about your stomach before you sleep! This means you need to watch what you’re eating and drinking in the couple hours or so leading up to your bedtime. While it’s obviously important to stay hydrated, drinking copious amounts of water right before bed will inevitably lead to a late-night trip to the bathroom, after which you may have trouble getting back to sleep. While drinking alcohol before bed can also have the same side effects as drinking water (i.e.: middle of the night bathroom breaks!), alcohol also decreases the quality of your sleep. When it comes to foods, spicy foods and foods with high acidity (citrus fruits, tomato sauce, etc.) can lead to stomach irritation and acid reflux, both of which can also disrupt your sleep. Foods with high fat content, such as hamburgers and pizza, can also cause digestion issues and keep you from getting those necessary 7-8 hours.
  3. Move during the day. Getting your daily dose of exercise can also help you get better quality sleep. While we may feel mentally and emotionally drained after a long day at work and/or with the kids, sometimes our bodies don’t feel that same level of exhaustion. Therefore, it can become harder to fall asleep at night because our bodies aren’t actually tired! To help you fall asleep faster and achieve that restful deep sleep, make sure to be active during the day. This doesn’t mean you have to attend a grueling barre class or run a 5K after work: just try to fit in a little more activity to your daily schedule, such as taking a power walk during your lunch break, fitting in a quick 20-minute home workout when you can (YouTube and OnDemand services have great choices!), or getting off one bus stop earlier to extend your walk home.
  4. Turn off the screens. Not only does watching television, constantly scrolling through the latest Instagram or Facebook posts, and catching up on those last-minute emails keep your mind buzzing longer, these distractions actually disrupt the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin from releasing. Our phones, laptops, and even our Kindles therefore delay our body from actually falling asleep naturally – so stay off your screens at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime! Instead, read a (paperback or hardcover) book, have a distraction-free evening chat with your partner or roommate, or tell your children a bedtime story.
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