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Ah, sleep. Perchance to dream (of a good workday)

By Melissa Babcock

As of last Tuesday, my daughter is officially a first grader. Getting her ready for her first day of school brought back many memories for me: shopping for shiny new supplies and new clothes, getting a snazzy back-to-school haircut and the less-fun task of getting back on a proper sleep schedule.

Summertime, with its late sunsets and warm temperatures, usually brings about later bedtimes for kids on school vacation and as summer comes to an end, so must the late nights. I’ve been trying to impart upon my daughter the importance of going to bed earlier, because I know she’ll be unfocused and unlikely to perform well at school (not to mention cranky as a bear) without the proper amount of sleep. Turns out, the same can be said for grownups and their work. I know I have trouble focusing when I’m tired. And depending on what kind of work you do, not getting enough sleep can have dire consequences. So how can we ensure we’re getting the right amount of Z’s?

Get physical. Regular exercise can quiet the mind and help the body fall asleep faster and more deeply. Just make sure you don’t hit the gym too close to bedtime – early is better.

Follow a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day (yes, even weekends). Doing so will strengthen your body’s sleep-wake schedule and your sleep will be better and more restful.

Create a bedtime ritual. My daughter cannot go to bed without a drink of water, a story and all of her stuffed animals arranged carefully around her. Your ritual doesn’t have to include stuffed animals, but making time each night for a warm shower or bath and relaxing with a good book can signal to your body that bedtime is imminent.

Get comfy. Where you sleep should be cool, dark and quiet, with a bed and pillows that feel comfortable to you. And we know it’s hard to let go of our electronics (who’s buying the iWatch?!) but try to limit things like TV and computers in your bedroom as they can interfere with a good night’s rest.

And even if after following all these tips, you still don’t get a good night’s sleep (it happens to the best of us), there are some things you can do to try and make it through the work day without incident:

Go for a walk.  Fresh air and sunlight are natural stimulants.

Indulge in a Double-Double. But do so early and don’t overdo it. Caffeine can continue to affect you for up ten hours after you’ve consumed it.

Nap. If you can manage it, a quick power nap (no more than 15 minutes) might refresh you.

All this talk of sleep has made ME sleepy. And it’s still early! Off to the coffee pot I go…

Do you get enough sleep? How do you get through the day when you’re feeling less than rested? Tell us by leaving a comment, or tweet us @HeadsUPAB.



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