In January’s blog post, I committed to setting an intention every morning in order to bring focus to my day. In February’s blog post, I layered in 10 minutes of meditation every day.

Habit #1 of 6 – Setting Intentionst
Wake-up time: Before getting out of bed, before even opening your eyes, practice the art of setting intentions for the day. This will help to gain and maintain focus throughout the day. A focused mind is a more confident mind.

Habit #2 of 6 – 10 minutes of Mindfulness Meditation
First thing after getting out of bed: Take 10 minutes to meditate! (There are many meditation tools and apps out there. Some of my favorites are Headspace and Buddhify.) A reassuring thought; even if you don’t manage to clear your head of thoughts for the entire 10min., you still get benefits; feeling grounded, at peace with yourself, and unhurried as you start the day.

Now it is time to bring in the third step of our routine. We’re still setting an intention every morning, still going to meditate for 10 minutes and now it will be after a good night’s rest! This month’s step of the morning routine starts the night before.

The next step in the Confidence-Building Morning Routine: 8 hours of sleep!

Last fall, I got the honor of running a Sleep Workshop for a prominent pharmaceutical company. It was a wake-up call (literally!) as I did my research and learned how critical it is to get 8, (or at the very least 7) hours of sleep each night. Ariana Huffington insists sleep deprivation is the new smoking. She thinks that soon people will stop bragging about how little they sleep and it will be unethical and maybe even illegal to require employees to work so much that they cannot get a full night’s rest. In fact, the World Health Organization now classifies night shift work as a probable carcinogen.

Thanks to Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and author of the new book Why We Sleep, there is new information available which shows what actually happens to our brain and body as we sleep. They have found that there is a direct link between lack of sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, weight issues, and the list goes on…. I learned that you cannot skip sleep during the week and make up for it at the weekend. Even one night of lack of sleep has detrimental effects.

Being in the business of learning, I found it especially interesting to find out that sleep after learning something new is essential in order to not forget what you just learned. Also sleeping well before learning prepares your brain, like squeezing out a wet sponge. Without sleep, the sponge is waterlogged and cannot take on new info. In fact, they now know there is a 40% deficit in the ability of the brain to make new memories if you have sleep deprivation. Why? The hippocampus is the memory inbox of your brain. It receives new files and holds on to them. Sleep deprivation shuts down the activity in the hippocampus. What is it about sleep that promotes learning and memory? There are powerful brain waves that happen when you sleep that protect and refresh your memory and learning. They now believe that our memories fade with age only when there is sleep deprivation.

Another reason to prioritize sleep; stabilize and support your mental health. We process emotional events of the day during the night. The reactivity in our amygdala can be twice as high as normal when we are deprived of sleep. That is why depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders are always correlated with sleep problems. There is also a 70% reduction in the immune system after just one night of 4h-5h of sleep. In fact, there is a 2014 study that suggests that losing just one hour of sleep can be detrimental. How do they know? The average number of Monday morning heart attacks rises by 25% after daylight savings robs us of an hour and diminishes by 21% later in the year when we gain one.

Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your body health every day!

Tips for better sleep:

  • Get in bed 8.5 hours before you want to wake up. Give yourself time to wind down.
  • Have a “digital sunset” no screens or devices for 60-90 min before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol – turns out they do not help us be awake or fall asleep as they are famous for…
  • If you get insomnia during the night – get out of bed right away and have a cup of herbal tea or write down what you are thinking about. Go back to bed after 15 min or so and try again.
  • Make your room pitch black – even little LEDs can disturb sleep.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Make sure your room is cool at night.

How does sleep impact your confidence?

Ask yourself, last time you felt sleep deprived, were you at your best? Chances are you were not thinking clearly, and it is very hard to be confident when our head is in a fog. The worst part is, it turns out we are very bad judges of the impact sleep impairment has on us.

Wishing you all a good night!!

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