Yawn.

Recently, I gave a short presentation to my classmates on the importance of sleep…and some tips on how to catch your zzzzz’s.

Let me share an excerpt.

My name is Julia Denker, and I’m a sleeper.

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Now, while this may seem rather unremarkable to most of you, after 30 years as an insomniac, this is nothing short of extraordinary for me!

Sleep is the number one performance enhancer for meeting the challenges of the next day. Studies suggest that we need 1 hour for every 2 that we stay awake, preferably around 71/2 to 8 hours. On average, Canadians get 6 hours or less per night.

We pay an enormous health cost for missing out on our zzzzz’s, including:

  1. Decreased health status. There is a direct link between insufficient sleep and heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, weight gain, and obesity.
  2. Increased brain fog. Sleep loss impacts cognition, therefore we are more likely to make bad decisions and have impaired memory.
  3. Increased pain. Studies show a connection between lack of sleep and lowered pain threshold.
  4. Bad mood. Insufficient sleep affects emotional regulation…you get cranky!
  5. Poor weight control. When you lose sleep, levels of the hormone called leptin decrease. Leptin normally gives you that feeling of satiety or fullness; with lowered levels, you are more apt to feel hungry and eat more.

Yikes. This is nothing to yawn at.

In a nutshell: you can’t think straight, your heart is in bad shape, you’re gaining weight, and you’re in pain. And all because you didn’t get enough sleep. What’s a poor sleeper to do?

Adopt a sleep regimen. And follow it as religiously as possible. That’s exactly what I did (and do)…and it worked!

Here are my very simple rules and/or suggestions:

  1. The bedroom is for sleep and sex. Only. This means no electronics and no reading.
  2. Arrange a quiet time before bed – 10, 15, 20 minutes in a room other than the bedroom AFTER you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face. Cozy up on the sofa; nix the electronics, dim the lights, read, listen to soft music.
  3. Go to bed by 11pm. Better yet, hit the hay by 10pm.
  4. Once you’re under the sheets, do some deep breathing to slow your heart and relax your mind and body. Inhale on a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, exhale on a count of 8. Repeat this cycle until you feel your body melting into the mattress. Turn off the light.

This protocol has worked for me and helped end 30 years of a waking nightmare.

Let’s recap:

  1. You need a solid night’s sleep – preferably 71/2 to 8 hours – to be fully capable of, well, anything.
  2. Studies show that chronic sleep deprivation can make us cranky, dumb, overweight and sore.

So, adopt a sleep regimen, get your 8 hours, and stop yawning!

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