Wake up at the same time every day.

• Jet Lag – By switching around your sleep schedule you actually create the same conditions as traveling between time zones.

• Inconsistent Sleep Drive – When you sleep in to “catch up” on sleep you shorten the time your body has between waking and sleeping. By switching this around you throw off your natural sleep rhythm.

• Confusion – Your body likes routine. You know how cats can tell time? They always know exactly when it’s feeding time, even if there isn’t a clock in sight. Your body is like a cat – it thrives on routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day allows your system to establish a strong routine.

Don’t go to bed until you are sleepy.

• Going to Bed Too Early – When you go to bed before you are tired you send mixed signals to your mind/body system. If you are not tired, then stay out of the bed. Sit in your most comfortable chair or on the couch until you are ready to fall asleep.

• Train Your Brain That Your Bed is For Sleeping – Eliminate all your extracur- ricular activities from your bed. (Well, ok, almost all.) You need to create a

• Your Mind is Like a River – The faster your mind is racing the larger the bridge needs to be to span it from wakefulness to sleep. A sleep bridge is the time and activities you engage in to bridge this span.

• Switch from Problem-Solving Mode to Restfulness Mode – The first step is to wind down your problem-solving and begin shifting into a lighter mental mode. During this sleep bridge time you don’t want to be checking emails, mak-

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strong association between your bed and sleep. This association helps over- ride other distractions and allows you to get to sleep faster. It’s like having a special place for your daily meditations. As soon as you sit in that chair or on that particular cushion your mind and body are crystal clear on why you are there and what you expect them to do.

• The Difference Between Tired and Sleepy – This is a crucial distinction. Tired has to do with feeling physically worn out. You can be tired after swim- ming the English Channel even though you are not sleepy. When I say wait until you are sleepy to go to bed I mean when your eyelids are droopy and want to close. That’s your body’s signal it is time to head to the land of nod.

Maintain a sleep bridge for about an hour before bedtime.

ing phone calls, or working on a project. This time is for wind- ing down.

• Wind Down with Stuff That’s Interesting but not Mentally Taxing – Use this time to work puzzles, read fiction, watch TV, do yoga, meditate, or perhaps you have a hobby that relaxes you. The important piece is to actively engage your mind in something that allows it to drift and re- lax.

Sleep is so important for your overall

health and well-being. I know it’s not sexy or flashy to set up a strict sleep routine but the benefits far outweigh the hassle factor. Take these steps to give yourself the amaz- ing gift of a good night’s sleep – you will be astounded at the multitude of benefits you will receive in return.

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