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How to sleep better and win the morning

Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014.

“How are you?” “So busy!”

It’s a bragging point in the young professional demographic, but beware: Sleep deprivation isn’t particularly intelligent, according to Dr. Andrew C. Peterson, Medical Director of the Eastern Iowa Sleep Center.

“Sleep helps you consolidate memory and learning. If you’re sleep deprived, your brain is fuzzy, you’re thinking slowly, your memory isn’t as good,” said Peterson.

The 25- to 34-year-old brain requires eight hours of sleep per night to function at 100 percent. Those replacing the eight hours with a triple espresso are at increased risk for car accidents, and suffer in their relationships and at work.


Here are five simple suggestions from Peterson to help Juice readers sleep better and win the morning.

Respect your internal clock by staying on routine: If you use Friday night to catch up on socializing, and then Saturday sleeping it off, you’re altering the body’s circadian rhythm and feeling it early in the work week.

“What happens is the brain thinks it’s supposed to get up at noon and go to bed at 2 a.m. When Monday morning rolls around, you’ve shifted the clock in your head by almost four hours,” Dr. Peterson said.

Let go: Ever lay down for bed only to have your mind race, seeming to rehash every bad decision you’ve made in life?

“People lay down with worries and start to think about it. The harder you try to fall asleep, the harder it is to fall asleep. Worry compounds on worry.”

Falling asleep is about letting go, not something you can force.

Lose the snooze: You need those extra five to 15 minutes of morning relief sometimes. However, the snooze button shouldn’t be part of your routine. Use of the snooze button is an indicator of sleep deprivation, according to Peterson. Ideally, you’re waking up before the alarm.

Stop checking Facebook before bed: Our brains mistake the blue glow emanating from smart phones as sunlight. If you check social media just before bed, you’re tricking the brain and impacting sleep.

You will not sleep when you’re dead: Sleep is not something to fight. The best environment is a dark, cool room, with minimal unexpected noise. Non-rhythmic noise like a fan soothes the brain, which filters out familiar sounds.

“If you’re not sleeping well it’s something you’re doing to yourself. It’s internal, not external. If you’re doing everything right, sleeping eight to nine hours a day and still tired, you should probably see a sleep specialist,” he said.