Whether you are working with young athletes in a junior program, competing yourself or trying to do your best in your job or career, sleep is an important variable that should not be overlooked. In our high achievement oriented culture, there is a strong tendency to “burn the candle at both ends”. Getting up early and going to bed late seems to the norm, especially in those who want to get ahead in their careers. The belief is that packing more into the day and longer days will lead to greater productivity. The reality is someone different. According to a recent issue of the “Harvard Mental Health Letter” lack of too little sleep and poor quality of sleep can lead to a variety of problems that can adversely affect health, mood and performance. Symptoms of reduced sleep may show itself through having less endurance, reduced reaction time, looking and feeling tired, making careless mistakes, difficulty staying focused, being more irritable at home and at work and increased risk of sickness and accidents.

Insufficient sleep may also be due from insomnia, difficulty falling asleep. Exercising or eating too much too close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. “Worrying or thinking too much” at bedtime is another common factor associated with sleep difficulties. Certain medications and products containing caffeine can also lead to sleep loss.

Here are some strategies to help you get the sleep you need to wake up feeling refreshed, alert and wide awake.

  1. View sleep as an investment you make to help you function at your best.
  2. Get into a routine of going to bed and waking up approximately the same time every day.
  3. Plan to “wind down” a few hours before bedtime.
  4. Get a good sleeping mattress.
  5. Keep the room temperature on the “cool side”.
  6. If your spouse snores, wear earplugs.
  7. Think or talk about plans or problems earlier in the evening in another room.
  8. Breathe deeply and slowly and focus on pleasant thoughts and images.

Pleasant dreams and sleep tight!.

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