Written by Juli Shulem

Sleep is one of the key factors for our cognitive functioning to, well…function. You can probably recall a time when you didn’t get enough sleep and you were not as effective as you could have been: You forgot important information, your memory was foggy, and maybe you weren’t as speedy or focused as you normally are. There is a reason why there are so many sleep aids available – because it is simply too important NOT to have a good night’s sleep. For years I have been sharing sleep information with my clients who either don’t value having a regular sleep schedule or can’t seem to make one happen consistently. It’s worse when you are actually in bed trying to fall asleep and then can’t sleep because you are so worried about NOT falling asleep. There is a name for that: Sleep Onset Insomnia (SOI) and a neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis shared that the pre-sleep stage (when your lights are off and your eyes are closed and you are starting to ‘let go’ of your day) is necessary. If you can’t fall asleep because you have too much on your mind – think of something else – like name cities that start with the alphabet in order…anything to help your mind let go. 

Sometimes we have so much on our minds that we need to be able to give our brains a rest – literally! I recommend a bedtime ritual where you spend a good 45-60 minutes ‘getting ready’ for bed and sleep. When we were babies, our parents had us on a schedule and we got accustomed to it. As we got older and went to school, we may have skipped a few steps. As adults, we may do nothing beyond a few minutes to brush our teeth and change our clothes before falling into bed. For some they sleep – for most they toss and turn. If you take time to let your body ‘wind down’ and you adhere to some consistent rituals every night, that will signal to your brain (and most of your thoughts) to slow down and get ready to sleep. It works.