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A Good Night's Sleep Means an Energized, Productive Day

You look at the bright red LED display of your bedside alarm clock: it's 2:30 a.m. and you're still awake. Your desperation to doze leads you to turn on your side, fluff a couple pillows and force a yawn. After counting a couple hundred sheep you turn to your clock once more: it's 3:12 a.m. You're supposed to be focused and full of energy for your morning meeting, but you can't get to sleep — so you stare.

It's 5:03 a.m. when you finally fall asleep — just long enough to be jolted awake by your alarm exactly 27 minutes later.

If this scenario plays out nightly, the effects can be debilitating when attempting even nominal tasks. According to WebMD, reducing your sack time by just 90 minutes can cut your daytime alertness by nearly a third. Other short term effects include:
  • Impaired memory and cogitative ability

  • Irritability

  • Lack of energy and motivation, which leads to poor quality of life

  • Injury from automobile or occupational accidents

So, to stay productive and focused during the day, lock in enough personal pillow time at night.

You may already be practicing routine methods for a quality snooze such as adjusting your bedroom's temperature, blacking-out the windows and avoiding caffeine late in the day. However, there are a few lesser-known strategies that are just as effective — maybe even more so — at helping you get some much needed rest:

  • Develop a sleep ritual: Rather than quickly brushing your teeth and hopping into bed, take your time and ease your way into a sleepy state. Studies show that developing a step-by-step ritual before bed can aid insomniacs by moderating their anxieties. Following a bedtime routine will help you mentally prepare for your evening's rest rather than attempting to force your body to relax.

  • Take a shower: About 45 minutes before climbing under your covers, hop in a hot bath or steamy shower to raise your core temperature, then allow your body to cool off. A study by Cornell University Medical College reveals that this sudden drop your body temp can help you snooze faster and reach deeper levels of sleep.

  • Have sex: According to Dr. Laura Berman, Director of The Berman Center for Women's Sexual Health, intimacy can help you sleep. Sexual activity releases endorphins and relieves stress thereby ending the cycle of sleeplessness. "…Couples who kiss regularly and spontaneously not only have higher levels of general intimacy, but also have decreased levels of stress and depression." Berman said. "So instead of taking those sleeping aids, sleeping aids and buying that $1,000 mattress, try just kissing your partner more and cuddling them more."

  • Wear socks to bed: Researchers found that when blood vessels in your feet and hands expand, your body becomes sleepy. When you increase the temperature of your extremities, your blood vessels will dilate and you'll drift off to dreamland. For the sake of everyone involved, remember to put on the socks only after practicing any of the above guidelines.

  • Don't Count Sheep: In a sleep study conducted by Oxford University, scientist found that subjects who were instructed to count sheep as a means of falling asleep, took longer to doze than those given no instructions at all. Instead of playing shepherd, picture relaxing scenes. Participants of the study who did this fell asleep an average of 20 minutes faster.

  • Still not sleeping? Get out of bed: Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only. Don't train your brain to associate getting into bed with watching television or going over tomorrow's reports. Even if you intend to go to sleep and just can't find Mr. Sandman, force yourself to crawl out of bed and relax somewhere else until you can be sure you'll fall asleep within 10-15 minutes.

While a few restless nights might mean a loss of productivity for the week, remember that prolonged sleep deprivation due to untreated sleep disorders can result in serious long-term side effects including heart failure, stroke, obesity and psychiatric issues. If you're experiencing extended bouts of insomnia, seek help from your doctor.

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