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In performing and feeling your best on an everyday basis, brain function is often key. Being able to think sharply and clearly when you are up against the gun is a tremendous attribute for all people, but especially young business professionals trying to make their way in the world. One of the cornerstones of optimal brain function is good sleep and sleeping habits. While this might seem painfully obvious, a surprising number of people compromise their sleep and restfulness without even knowing it. This article aims to provide some simple steps to ensure deeper, healthier sleep in order to help professionals feel and perform better.

For an adult, a minimum of seven hours of sleep is required in order to recover at your best. While the struggles of completing work and meeting social obligations can sometimes make this a difficult goal, seven hours is the absolute baseline amount of sleep you should be getting on a nightly basis. Lack of sleep can quickly become a toxic cycle, building and compounding upon itself. With each day that you attempt to complete normal tasks while running on a sleep deficit, your brain finds it harder and harder to perform, leading to a sustained drop off in productivity as time goes on. Lack of sleep can also have other negative impacts, like depression and reduced ability to combat sickness. Poor sleep can compromise your immune system and reduce your ability to fight off infections, lengthening colds and illnesses that would normally be trivial into longer, more sustained battles. If you are finding yourself not getting enough sleep, make it a priority to block out seven to ten hours to rest every night. While you might not find yourself reaching seven hours right away, the mere act of lying down to rest still provides your body a degree of rest and recovery. Soon enough, you will settle into a healthy sleep routine.

“Make it a priority to block off seven to ten hours to rest every night…”

 While sleep is eminently important, oversleeping comes with its own dangers and harms. Oversleep can lead to drowsiness and irritability throughout the day and detract from your motivation to be energetic and productive. A nice, balanced sleep schedule of between seven and ten hours every night is optimal, providing a balance of restfulness and focus. Drowsiness can be a problem even if you are sleeping the right amount, however, making caffeine a useful part of any morning routine. Everyone has a different reaction to the effects of caffeine, but a morning tea or coffee provides most young professionals the energy boost they need. Over time, routine becomes an integral part of a person’s sleep cycle. If you go to bed and wake up at consistent hours, meeting sleep requirements will become easier and easier for your body. Caffeine and a healthy breakfast will help your body rev up to be ready for the day, and your body will feel better and better the longer your routine is sustained.

Once you have settled into a sleeping routine, you can shift your focus to quality of sleep. One major obstacle to sleep that has developed in recent years is the ever growing presence of screens, which prompt a great deal of activity in the brain, making it harder to calm down and achieve good quality sleep. The most straightforward solution to this problem is simply avoiding screens entirely for sixty minutes before going to sleep, negating the negative effects of screens on the sleep-wake cycle. The realities of twenty-first century living make this difficult, however, and sometimes compromises must be made. In recent years, blue light glasses have been developed, reducing much of the impact of screens on the eyes and brain. These glasses are cheap and easy to acquire, so consider ordering a pair to use before bed. One habit that is extremely important to avoid is the use of screens in the dark before bed, which reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone which allows you to go to sleep. Even if a sixty minute screen-less guideline is difficult to follow, avoid the use of screens in the bedroom and especially in the dark.

“One habit that is extremely important to avoid is the use of screens in the dark before bed…”

Other strategies to improve sleep beyond the creation of a healthy routine and the avoidance of screens are more time consuming, but are often worth it. Good exercise and diet, when executed properly, can both improve quality of sleep. Cardio exercises of at least thirty minutes per day can improve the deepness and fullness of one’s sleep, as can the consumption of healthy foods containing proteins, grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Another important habit is waiting at least three hours after you have eaten to go to bed. Digesting food while you are asleep has numerous negative consequences, including making it more difficult to stay asleep throughout the night. While it may be difficult and challenging to overhaul one’s entire diet and exercise schedule, even incremental changes will pay off.

The steps to improving the length and quality of one’s sleep are simple and straightforward. Create a consistent bedtime routine and your body will quickly fall into a sleeping rhythm, allowing you to feel much more energetic and focused within days. Avoid the overuse of screens and eating too soon before bed and you will not only get the proper amount of sleep, but better quality sleep as well, visit Simple steps like preparing meals earlier and spending five dollars on blue light glasses can make a world of difference, even if you are not going to the gym everyday or dieting. Your body is asking very little in order to improve your health and brain function, so do not hesitate to give your body what it wants.