In my quest for self-improvement, I wanted to explore the importance of sleep as a foundational centerpiece to overall health. I’m personally worried I don’t get enough sleep, and not giving sleep the attention, or importance it deserves – from the mental to the physical.

If in the real estate biz it’s – “location, location, location” – then for health, fitness, and overall well-being it’s “sleep, sleep, sleep”!

Part of my New Year’s resolution checklist for each of the last four years has been to get more sleep. I consistently struggle with getting to bed at a decent hour, and when I do finally shut my lids, it’s immediate lights out! However upon waking in around six hours later, to borrow from Jerry Seinfeld, morning guy is not happy with night guy.

From what I’ve read, as well as how I generally feel, I realize a good night’s sleep is the foundation for everything else I’m doing or trying to do in life, so I’m making a concerted effort to increase the amount of sleep I get, with an emphasis on quality and consistency. After all, getting the optimal amount of sleep for mind and body, will help in the quest to eat, work, play, and simply live a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Personally, I normally get around six hours of sleep per night, and striving for at least seven on a consistent basis – seemingly my “sweet spot” –  where I feel well-rested, prepared, and have enough energy and focus to avoid multiple cups of caffeine throughout the day.

To gain a better understanding of why you may need more sleep, or to confirm you are getting the optimal amount, the following list may provide some insight. Please also consider studying other sources, including consulting with a medical professional if you feel you may not be getting the proper amount of sleep and it’s affecting your physical and/or mental well-being.

Following is a list of negative effects of not getting enough sleep, from Web MD, and why it really is a foundational element of optimal health, and how it can be a significant aiding force in other life aspirations.

  • Greatly Increases the Chance of Accidents – whether at home, on the road, at work, or at play – this is serious, and not to be taken lightly. You could seriously or injure or kill yourself or others.
  • Makes You Dumb – impairing attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. C’mon who wants to be dumb? I know I can feel this way when I get less than six hours of sleep.
  • Squashes Sex Drive – creating lower libidos and less sex drive. Perhaps this is all some people need, and not prescribed ED meds! Get your sleep on!
  • Can Lead to Depression – or at least the symptoms of. Depression is serious and prevalent in our fast-paced non-stop society. Many of us could benefit from some good ol’ fashion eight hours of sleep. Make it happen!
  • Ages Your Skin – chronic sleep loss can lead to poor skin appearance, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. Really, sleeping can help you look younger? Need I say more…
  • Makes You Forgetful – to improve your memory, get more sleep. Also see “Dumb” above.
  • Can Drive Up Your Weight – It’s likely that lack of sleep is related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. More sleep can potentially help you lose weight – perhaps one of the easier ways to “diet”.
  • Increases the Risk of Death, Yep Death! – chronic lack of sleep has a significant impact on your health, and can lead to Heart disease, Heart attack, Heart failure, Irregular heartbeat, High blood pressure, Stroke, Diabetes.
  • Overall Impairment of Judgement – lack of sleep hinders an ability to accurately and fully interpret events, this includes the effects of not getting enough sleep!

For me at least, this was an eye-opening list of adverse effects associated with not getting consistent and sufficient sleep. So this begged the question, am I getting enough sleep?

Another article I found interesting and useful was from It provides a quick, albeit informal method to assess whether you’re lacking sleep. If any of the following apply for you, then you may not be getting enough sleep. This list should be only a starting point.  If you feel you’re affected by chronic lack of sleep, please consult with a medical professional.

  • Do I need an alarm clock to wake up at the right time?
  • Do I have trouble getting out of bed every morning?
  • Do I get tired quickly when driving?
  • Do I have trouble remembering things or concentrating?
  • Do I fall asleep as soon as I get in bed?

If you’re like me, you can probably say ‘yes’ to at least three or four of the questions, so probably a decent gauge to understanding if you’re sleep deprived.

Good, Quality Sleep is Critical to Health and Well Being

Seemingly the simple solution is go to bed earlier and/or sleep later. However this won’t work for everyone, and can also be difficult to maintain. Building quality sleep into a consistent and sustainable habit can be a challenge for many. It’s been my struggle for years. Following are some great tips from on how to get to bed earlier, and create a healthy sleep habit for the long run.

You will likely need to experiment with the following tips to determine which technique(s) work best for you and your situation.

  • Keep In-Sync With Your Body’s Natural Sleep-Wake Cycle
    One of the most critical and powerful step you can take to improve sleep is to get in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. You want to strive to maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule. It will make you more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times, even if you only alter your sleep schedule by an hour or two.

    • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, including weekends (this is a tough one!).
    • Avoid sleeping in—even on weekends (again, a difficult ask, but you’ll be better for it!).
    • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
    • If sleepy after dinner, but before your bedtime, do something mildly stimulating.


  • Control Exposure to Light
    The naturally occurring hormone, Melatonin, is influenced by light exposure. It helps regulate your sleep and wake cycle. Basically, your brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark (making you sleepy) and less when there’s light (increasing alertness). Unfortunately in our current digital-age, melatonin production and therefore optimal sleep patterns are impacted. Here are some ideas on how to ensure you get the optimal amount of light to assist your sleep and wake pattern.

    • Day (or your “alert” time):
      • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning.
      • Spend more time outside during daylight.
      • Let as much natural light into your home or work-space as possible.
      • If necessary, use a light therapy box.
    • Night (or your “sleep” time):
      • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. Just say no to late-night television, or any screen time for that matter!
      • Don’t read with back-lit devices.
      • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
      • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.


  • Exercise!
    • Consistent exercise will help you sleep better, and feel less tired through your daily grind. It can also help with symptoms of insomnia, sleep apnea, and enhances the time you spend in critical, deep sleep stages. However watch when you exercise. Morning or afternoon exercise is best, both to ensure workout consistency, and better sleep.


  • Watch What Your Eat and Drink
    • Daily eating habits can dictate how well you sleep, especially in the hours before your head to bed.
      • Limit your caffeine and nicotine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it!
      • Avoid big meals at night – especially spicy foods.
        However for some people, a small snack before bed may help with sleep. Try a banana, your favorite type of milk, or some bread with a natural nut butter.
      • Avoid alcohol before bed – it interferes with sleep cycles.
      • Avoid drinking excessive liquids in the evening – it can cause frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
      • Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs – even eating during the day can trigger wakefulness at night.


  • Relax and Clear Your Mind!
    • If you’re feeling stressed and overloaded from work, family, or just life, you very well may need some help and guidance. Beyond just affecting your sleep, stress is destructive to your health and overall well-being. Here are a couple great resources from for dealing with worry and stress, and also some great relaxation techniques.
    • In conjunction with understanding and dealing with your stress, you can also try Relaxation techniques to help your mood and improve sleep.
      • Deep breathing.
      • Progressive muscle relaxation.
      • Visualizing a peaceful, restful place.
      • For details on these methods, check out this great article from Relaxation Techniques


  • Improve Your Environment
    • Create a peaceful bedtime environment that allows calmness to consume you. Try to avoid a television in the room.
    • Keep noise down from inside and outside your home. Use a sound machine or ear plugs as needed.
    • Keep your room dark and cool. Optimal sleeping temperature is around 65° F (18° C) with adequate ventilation.
    • Be sure your bed is comfortable and you have the right amount of covers for ideal temperature. If you have any neck or back pains, consider testing out some new mattresses with different firmness levels.
    • Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex to make it easier to wind down at bedtime. Try no screens.


  • Get Back to Sleep
    • Do not stress if you can’t fall back to sleep, as this will only make matters worse.
    • If you’re having trouble falling back to sleep, try a relaxation technique such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. You can do these in bed, and they’ll help rest your body, and very likely allow you to fall back to sleep.
    • If you’ve been awake for longer than 15 minutes, try getting up and doing a quiet activity such as reading a book, but avoid any screen activity.
    • If you awake with a feeling of worry, anxiousness, or even a great idea, simply note it on a piece of paper and tell yourself you’ll handle it in the morning when you’re better able.

For the detailed list of how to improve sleep, check out the article from

Quality and sufficient sleep that supports your mind and body requirements is vital to your overall well-being, and beyond. I’m finding as I work through improving the types of food I consume, I must first have mental clarity and the energy it requires to pursue a new method of thinking and doing. I’m intent on changing my diet, in an achievable and sustainable manner, and with that, I need the mental focus and the myriad of other wellness benefits good sleep affords.

Before you start down the path of improving your health via diet, exercise, meditation, or whatever you think you need, first step back and consider whether you’re getting sufficient, quality sleep on a consistent basis. It’s not always the first thing you consider when you’re not feeling your finest, however as a foundational element of health and well-being, it must!

Now go get your sleep on!