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The more we learn about sleep, the more we realize how powerful and beneficial it is. Sleeping well (over 7 hours) has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function. The ability of the body to heal in a deep-sleep state reduces our risk of chronic diseases. It ensures we have a better mood throughout the day. It improves our physical performance and recovery.

Getting enough sleep also means we don't get sick so often because of the role it plays in enhancing our immune system.

Here are some habits that contribute to getting enough quality sleep each day.

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule. I know it isn't always easy, but your sleep will benefit greatly when you train yourself to go to sleep and wake up at a similar time each night, even on weekends. The body can't find its groove if you're continually changing this up.
  • Develop a nighttime routine. Whether taking a warm shower, reading a book, or journaling, a routine signals to your body that it's time to wind down.
  • Relax your mind. You can use techniques like mindfulness meditation, where you focus on your breath for a few minutes. You can also try deep breathing, white noise, nasal breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation via body scanning.
  • Avoid exercise right before bed. It might seem obvious to exert energy later in the day so that we're tired before bed, but training will heighten your senses for a few hours. This makes it harder to fall asleep, which is why exercise is better done earlier in the day.
  • Avoid screens an hour before bed. The blue light given off by electronic devices is known to suppress your melatonin production, which is needed to help you fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. These are stimulants that affect your nervous system and accelerate your heart rate. This is the direct opposite state you need to be in to sleep. Avoid drinking caffeine after late morning.
  • Exercise every day. If you struggle to sleep long and deep but then spend most of your day sitting in front of the laptop, you need to change that. Find a way to get moving. You can start simple, with at least 20 minutes of walking each day. The reason you might struggle to sleep may be simply because you haven't used up your energy for the day.
  • Limit eating within an hour before sleeping. The digestive system needs to do its work to break down your food. This will disrupt the process of falling asleep. If you've eaten any high-glycemic index food like white rice or bread, this will spike blood sugar and raise your heart rate, also making it harder to sleep. However, you might try drinking some calming tea like chamomile to aid your sleep.
  • Avoid long naps. A short nap of no more than 15 minutes can be a great way to refresh halfway through the day. But if you're struggling to sleep at night, you'll want to avoid the kind of mid-afternoon naps that get you under the covers for more than an hour.
  • Make your environment comfortable. It seems obvious, but so many have less-than-optimal sleeping environments and wonder why they can't sleep. The best environment means having something comfortable to lie on, a cool temperature, and adequately dark for the sleep duration.

Give light to your unconscious mind with the Night Notes journal. Calm your mind in preparation for sleep, record and analyze your dreams, jot down your bedtime ideas, prioritize tomorrow with to-do lists, and expand on your creative musings.

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