Caring for our bodies
in a mindful manner
requires sufficient sleep.
The more I study the benefits
of sleep, the more I realize
depriving ourselves of sleep
is toxic.

Self-compassion blesses
us with the delicious
blessing of a good night’s

The Center for Disease Control says if not getting enough sleep is a regular part of your routine, you may be at an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.

“Every night when we sleep,
a system of channels opens up,
called the glymphatic system,
which is like a garbage truck for the brain.

These channels drain away waste products,
helping you wake up fresh.

Researchers speculate that partial failure of this system, from genetic abnormalities
or lack of good sleep,
could cause an accumulation of toxins
in the brain, leading to disorders like dementia.

In fact, researchers have even found that the brain’s waste-disposal system works best when we sleep on our sides, as opposed to on our backs or stomachs.”

Amit Sood, from Mindfulness Redesigned
for the Twenty-First Century: Let’s Not Cage the Hummingbird: A Mindful Path to Resilience

Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.

Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.

Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.

Don’t use tobacco.

Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.


A relaxing bath or shower is
shown to help improve overall sleep quality and help people — especially older adults.
Simply bathing your feet in hot water
can help you relax and improve sleep.

Exercise is one of the best
science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health.

It can enhance all aspects of sleep
and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia.

One study in older adults
determined that exercise 
nearly halved the amount of time
it took to fall asleep and
provided 41 more minutes
of sleep at night.

The good news is that Scientific American says like all debt, with some work, sleep debt can be repaid—though it won’t happen in one extended snooze marathon.

Tacking on an extra hour or two of sleep a night is the way to catch up. For the chronically sleep deprived, take it easy for a few months to get back into a natural sleep pattern, says Lawrence J. Epstein,
medical director of the
Harvard-affiliated Sleep HealthCenters.

Go to bed when you are tired,
and allow your body to wake you in the morning
(no alarm clock allowed).
You may find yourself catatonic in the beginning of the recovery cycle: Expect to bank upward of ten hours shut-eye per night. As the days pass, however, the amount of time sleeping will gradually decrease.

For recovery sleep, both the hours slept and the intensity of the sleep are important.

As you erase sleep debt, your body will come to rest at a sleep pattern that is specifically right for you.

A 2003 study in the journal Sleep found that the more tired we get, the less tired we feel.

So earn back that lost sleep—and follow the dictates of your innate sleep needs. You’ll feel better.

“When you put away sleep debt, you become superhuman,” says Stanford’s Dement, talking about the improved mental and physical capabilities that come with being well rested.

Finally, a scientific reason to sleep in on Saturday.

“I consider sleep my number-one medicine.”

says Dr. Christiane Northrup,
in Goddesses Never Age:
The Secret Prescription for
Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being

“Sleep is restorative at a cellular level.
It allows you to clear accumulated
stress hormones that cause inflammatory processes
that lead to disease.”

Dr. Christiane Northrup, from
Goddesses Never Age

“Sleep serves a larger purpose
than simply keeping us well-rested.
Our brains are extraordinarily active when we are asleep.

In fact, our learning may actually accelerate while we are sleeping. Scientists are discovering that we learn and make connections more effectively when we are asleep than we do when we are awake.”

Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Jim
from Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements

Each night of sleep allows our brain to process what we learned the day before.
As a result, we are more likely to remember what we learned if we get a sound night’s sleep.”

Tom Rath and Jim Harter,
from Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements

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