Better Sleep for Parents During Back to School


Fall can be a beautiful and exciting time of the year, but for parents of school-age kids, it is also a time of extra stress. Getting up early to drop kids off at school, preparing lunches and driving them to ballet or martial arts classes can take a toll on busy parents’ time, energy and, frequently, sleep.

Here is how moms and dads can survive the fall transition and still get enough sleep.

Make a plan

Staying organized is key, says Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. The best way to do this is with a detailed to-do list.

“Write out what needs to be done,” Alpert recommends. “Include all tasks—such things as preparing lunches for the kids, picking out outfits, etc.”

Knowing exactly what to do the next morning will help you feel less anxious when trying to get kids off to school, Alpert says. Anxiety can negatively impact sleep, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Take care of yourself

While investing so much time in your family, it’s easy to forget to do the same for one very important member: yourself.

“Make sure you take care of yourself—the healthier you are, the better you’ll be able to manage the household,” Alpert says.

No matter how busy you are, try to schedule some exercise every day and stick to a healthy diet.

Prepare for sleep

An hour before bed, start creating an environment conducive to sleep: Shut the blinds if street lights flood your room, and only do calming activities, Alpert recommends.

“That means no scary movies, riveting books, or intense conversations,” he says.

Finally, stay positive.

“End your day with a positive mindset by thinking of three things from your day that you feel good about and three things you look forward to the next day,” Alpert says.

7 Reasons Sleeping Helps You Perform Better


Skipping sleep isn’t how you achieve more. In fact, not sleeping enough deprives your body of the functions it requires to perform well.

“These two threads that run through our life—one pulling us into the world to achieve and make things happen, the other pulling us back from the world to nourish and replenish ourselves—can seem at odds,” Ariana Huffington points out in her new book,The Sleep Revolution,” “but in fact they reinforce each other.”

Research agrees. A few studies, noted here, explain why sleep is actually the most productive thing you can do.

1. Sleep is how your brain de-clutters.

It’s not a coincidence that the problems on your mind when you fall asleep seem clearer, and simpler, come morning: While asleep, your brain “takes out the trash,” or clears metabolic waste products that are otherwise toxic. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester, says this happens at night because it takes a lot of energy. “It’s probably not possible for the brain to both clean itself and at the same time [be] aware of the surroundings and talk and move and so on,” she told NPR.

2. You learn while you sleep.

You’ve probably heard that sleep is good for memory, which is also crucial for learning, according to the National Institutes of Health. Think of retaining information the same way you work out a muscle: It’s during rest, not repetition, that strength is built.

3. Lack of sleep leads to poor decisions.

Sleep deprivation impairs cognitive function, according to the journal Progress in Brain Research. When you’re faced with making a choice in the moment, you won’t be conscious of the fact that you’re not thinking clearly. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that people who go without rest make choices based on an optimistic but delusional assumption about the result.

4. Sleep feeds productivity.

Whatever benefits you think you are reaping from a few extra hours of studying or working instead of sleeping are not worth it, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. A lack of rest affects your mood, your ability to focus and your access to “higher-level brain functions” for not only the day after the missed sleep, but many more after that.

5. Leadership behavior depends on sleep.

The prefrontal cortex is rendered far less useful when deprived of sleep—and it’s the same part of the brain that governs organization, critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning.

6. Your brain needs sleep.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, research shows that “some form of sleep disruption is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders.” Maintaining mental health is essential to being able to function well, according to Harvard Health Publications.

7. Sleep inspires insight.

Research published in the journal Nature showed that sleep impacts insight, or a “mental restructuring that leads to a sudden gain of explicit knowledge allowing qualitatively changed behavior.” As your brain files and processes information, you’re able to see patterns, draw conclusions and identify the bigger picture.

The Sleep Routines of Successful People


Success is neither random nor singular, and perhaps the habits that some of the most accomplished people in the world have mastered begin where some may least expect it: when they check out for the night.

The basic daytime routines of many successful people get a lot of press; what about when the lights go off?

1. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post Media Group

Huffington sleeps for 7 hours, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. In her book “The Sleep Revolution” she explains why she believes in a tech-free bedroom and reads “real books” before sleep. She also advocates for taking time to wind down before bed each night, and believes that the bedroom should be an oasis, a place to escape from the day.

2. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of

Bezos is known for being a sleep advocate. Inc. reports that he considers his 8 hours a necessity to maintain “alertness and clarity of thought necessary to tackle each day’s challenges.” He also makes sure that he spends each morning with his wife, as he wants her to receive the best of his energy each day. When he first started out, he was known to take naps in a sleeping bag he would bring to his office.

3. Vera Wang, fashion designer

Wang’s trick to getting a great night’s sleep lies in decor, of course. She told Fortune that her bedroom is her “sanctuary,” or “refuge.” She attributes enough rest to ensuring she doesn’t experience burnout, and it’s in her bedroom that she does a great deal of designing, too.

4. Barack Obama, president of the United States

Obama sleeps barely 6 hours each night, after 1 a.m., according to the New York Times. He’s known to be a night owl, often holding meetings late into the night. He says he reads for a half hour before bed, and then writes. Beforehand, he makes sure he has dinner with his family, hangs out with his kids, and is there to help put them to sleep, too.

5. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter

Dorsey makes sure to log exactly 7 hours of sleep before he logs online for the day, he says in a question-and-answer session on Product Hunt.. He also practices yoga and meditation, making sure he hits the mat for some deep breathing and mindfulness for 30 minutes each morning (he wakes up at 5 a.m.). He also does a 7-minute workout three times, has a cup of coffee in the morning, and recommends blackout curtains when it’s time for rest.

6. Mariah Carey, Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter

Carey sleeps for a whopping 15 hours each night and has numerous humidifiers around her while she does so. “Basically it’s like sleeping in a steam room,” she told V Magazine. The humidifiers are supposed to help her throat, her most delicate instrument.

7. Melissa Stockwell, Olympic paratriathlete

To gear up for the games, Stockwell practices “sleep training,” arguing that restorative rest and visualization are her secrets to success. “Deep sleep not only restores the spirit, but energizes the brain and body. Too little, and your ability to make split-second decisions is compromised,” she writes in The Huffington Post

A Good Night’s Sleep Can Boost Your Job Satisfaction

If you’ve been feeling grumpy about your job, a lack of sleep may be to blame as much as a demanding boss or annoying coworkers.


In a recent study, researchers in Sweden found that sleep-deprived employees felt as though they had way more demanding workloads, less control over their work and less social support than their well-rested colleagues.

The results suggest that getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for workers to be happy with their jobs, the scientists say.

“Interventions to improve sleep may be important in reducing stress and negative views of work, and perhaps life in general,” according to the researchers in their study, published in the journal Sleep.

In the Swedish study, researchers looked at 4,827 workers, who held a variety of white- and blue-collar jobs and work schedules, from traditional 9-to-5 posts to late-night shifts.

At the start of the study, the researchers asked the participants how often they experienced problems falling asleep, restless sleep, and repeated awakenings at night. They also asked about their sense of control over their workloads, their feelings of social support at work, and the extent of their work demands. The scientists followed up with the same questions two years later.

People who had trouble sleeping tended to see their workplaces as less socially supportive and more demanding—in other words, more stressful—than those who generally slept well, the researchers found. The people with sleeping problems were also more likely to have negative attitudes about their work.

The study findings don’t indicate absolutely that sleep problems cause people to perceive their workplaces as more stressful, but the study does suggest a link. Workers tired due to sleep loss may perceive their work environment as worse than it really is, the scientists posit.

In addition, the research team found that people who reported working in a stressful environment at the start of the study also experienced more sleep problems two years later. This result suggests that work-related stress may lead to sleep problems. In fact, any kind of stress tends to go hand in hand with sleep problems, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

The connection between work stress and sleep problems held even after the Swedish researchers accounted for work schedules, long hours at the office, and the physical demands of a job.

The findings imply that both individual employees and organizations may benefit from promoting better sleep. By making sure that employees get as much sleep as they need, companies can help workers feel satisfied with their jobs and improve their long-term performance.

Obsessively Checking Social Media? You May Need More Sleep.

If you ever feel that you spend too much time on Facebook, you may want to take a look at your sleep habits.


Scientists say a lack of sleep might lead people to browse their Facebook profiles too frequently.

“When you get less sleep, you’re more prone to distraction,” lead author Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine, says in a statement. “If you’re being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It’s lightweight, it’s easy, and you’re tired.”

The new findings were presented at a conference in San Jose, California.

Previous research, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, has suggested that social media overuse may contribute to sleep deficiencies in young adults. But the authors of the new study wondered whether the reverse could also be true.

Mark and her team followed 76 college students for one week. The scientists equipped the students’ computers and smartphones with software that tracked their online activity. The researchers looked at things like how frequently the students switched between apps, how they slept, and how engaged they were at work.

Sleep-deprived students tended to spend more time browsing Facebook than those who regularly got enough sleep. The less sleep students got, the more frequently they switched between apps, which suggests sleep loss leads to higher distractibility.

Similarly, other research, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, has suggested that tired people are more prone to distraction.

People who are sleep deprived may not be as mentally sharp as they would be if they got enough sleep. They may unconsciously seek out mindless activities, like using Facebook, to avoid overexerting their drowsy brains, the researchers posit. Indeed, the students in the study seemed to view social media use as intellectually undemanding.

“It’s just easy. Scroll down, open a funny picture, move on to the next thing,” one of the students told the scientists.

The new findings add to a growing body of research on the complex relationship between sleep and the use of modern technology, the researchers conclude. People who don’t get enough sleep in the first place may find themselves in the vicious circle of spending too much time on social media, which can then impact their ability to sleep well.

Sleep Is Key for a Flu-Free Winter


With flu season on its way, now is the time to take steps to avoid that pesky virus. Flu seasons run roughly from early October through April, sometimes even into May, but the severity varies from year to year. It’s impossible to accurately predict what to expect this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some things never change, such as what you can do to reduce your risk of catching the flu.

Children and the elderly have the greatest risk of complications from the flu, but anyone can catch it and possibly end up in the hospital, or worse, according to the CDC. If you are exposed, what matters most is that your body has the resources to fight back. That starts with getting vaccinated, according to Dr. Jay Kahng, an internist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The flu vaccine’s effectiveness fluctuates, but any protection is better than none.

Common-sense hygiene rules also apply, such as regularly washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough. But just as important is getting a good night’s sleep every night. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends adults sleep seven to eight hours a night. Children need at least 10 hours each night, and teenagers need nine to 10 hours a night.

“If we do not sleep well, our body does not get a chance to develop and maintain the healthy immune system,” Kahng says. “Without it, we are more susceptible to viral infections such as the flu.”

In fact, research has shown that being well rested is important even when you get the vaccine, says the Sleep Geek, Sleep Number’s Vice President of Sleep Science & Research Pete Bils.

“Chronic lack of sleep is not only associated with an increase in inflammation but also causes immunodeficiency,” says Dr. Arfa Babaknia, a group medical director at the Memorial Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California. “People who receive the flu vaccine will decrease their immunity against the flu after just one week of insomnia.”

A study in the Nature journal Scientific Reports found evidence for the strong link between sleep and immune system functioning when researchers tracked nearly 3,000 adults for several years. They discovered that those with more daytime sleepiness also developed more infections over that time.

More recently, researchers reported this June in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that adults who got five hours of sleep or less each night had nearly twice the risk of developing infections such as influenza or pneumonia compared to those who slept seven to eight hours a night.

“We know from laboratory studies that sleep is intimately related to the immune system,” says Aric Prather, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco, and the lead author of that study. “When sleep is deprived, for a night or even just part of a night, many aspects of the immune system key to protecting us from viruses are affected.”

Even when Prather’s team took into account factors such as smoking, physical activity and weight, short sleepers had 50 percent greater odds of getting an infection than those getting seven to eight hours per night. These findings matched up with a 2015 study that Prather conducted and reported in the journal Sleep that found individuals were four times more likely to catch the common cold when they slept just five to six hours or less per night compared to those who got at least seven hours of shut-eye.

Some people dismiss the flu as just a few days of feeling cruddy, but influenza can knock you flat with fever, aches and pains for two weeks. It sends thousands of people to the hospital every year. That makes sleep even more important if you do come down with the flu.

“Sleep appears to play an important role in recovery, though how this exactly happens is not well known,” Prather says. “It’s possible that energy needed to power the immune system, particularly during an infection, may be more easily diverted during sleep than during wake time.”

But one thing is clear: if you want to stay healthy this winter, whether it’s avoiding a common cold or more serious infections like flu, you need your sleep.

As Prather notes, “the scientific literature supporting a link between sufficient sleep and physical health gets stronger every day.”

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