Dream On! Tips for Truly Better Sleep

Dream On! Tips for Truly Better Sleep

If you want to succeed in your career, if you want a better quality of life, read this.

Despite so many studies that show how crucial enough sleep is to health, there still persists the myth that sleep just isn't that important—and that being awake to do the things you need to do must take precedence. We've spoken to so many working moms who say, "I can sleep later." But if you want to succeed at work, you might want to get adequate rest, now.

That's exactly the point of Sleeping Your Way to the Top: How to Get the Sleep You Need to Succeed. Written by sleep psychologist W. David Brown, Ph.D. and certified clinical sleep educator Terry Cralle, R.N., the book details the huge role sleep plays in achievement. Contrary to popular belief, those leading the business world are typically not sleep-deprived. "There’s this myth out there that to be successful, you really have to give up sleep," Dr. Brown says. "But our knowledge shows just the opposite, that to be successful, you need to predict your sleep and get an adequate amount on a regular basis."

For National Sleep Comfort Month, we spoke with Dr. Brown about tips for better sleep.

Focus on both quantity and quality of sleep.

The majority of adults require around seven to nine hours of sleep, according to Dr. Brown. But the quantity of sleep isn't the only important factor. You also need good quality sleep, "long periods of sleep without interruption." Believe it or not, even good sleepers wake up five to 11 times a night, including every time you toss and turn or every time you lift your head up or adjust your pillow. To figure out if you're getting good sleep, assess how you feel during the day: If you still feel drowsy after eight or nine hours of sleep, are falling asleep at meetings or feel tired driving, you might want to take a closer look at your sleep quality.

If you've been sleep-deprived all week, don't expect a couple of days of sleeping in to fix that completely. "You can catch up to some degree, but it’s nowhere near enough to make up for the sleep loss," says Dr. Brown. "It gives you a false sense of security."

Minimize distractions in your bedroom.

Got a clock in your room or keep your phone at your bedside? This may contribute to bad sleep if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night and check the time, says Dr. Brown. "The moment you see that time, you calculate two numbers: how long have I been here, and how much time do I have left," he explains. "Both of those can be anxiety provoking. We recommend you set an alarm to make sure you get up in the morning, but turn the face of the clock away from you and try to forget time as much as you possibly can."

If you tend to sleep with the TV on in the background, at least shut it off before you go to sleep. "I'm a big advocate of getting the electronics out of the bedroom, or at least staying off of them at bedtime," says Dr. Brown, who suggests people put down electronics one to two hours before going to bed. If that's not going to happen, use blue blocking filters on your screen or wear yellow glasses, whichchange the amount of blue you see. Our eyes, Dr. Brown says, have a retinal cell that are very sensitive to blue light, which is why yellow tinted apps or glasses can help counteract it.

Put yourself in the mood—physically and mentally.

Make a warm soak a part of your sleep ritual.

"What we’re trying to do, and why it has to be a bath not a shower, is raise the core body temperature," says Dr. Brown. "Anything that cools your body will make you sleepy. If you soak in a hot bath, when you get out, the cooling of the body has a very mild but real sleep effect."

Go for lavender, known to be a relaxing scent.

Use it in oil form or as a spray for sheets. Steer clear of peppermint, however, which can arouse you and wake up your senses.

Save your worry for later.

If you're an active thinker who has trouble clearing your mind for sleep, Dr. Brown advises saving your worry for the 16 hours you're awake, and not for bedtime. Your mind is more emotional during the night, so it's pretty much working against you anyway, he says. "Your ability to think through a problem is impaired at night, so no matter what decision you come up with in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t trust it." What to do instead? Try some guided imagery. Use that active mind of yours to dream up a relaxing, happy place. Feel the breeze. Smell the salt in the air. You get the picture.

Written by Maricar Santos for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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