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Getting An Extra Hour Of Sleep A Day Can Make You More Emotionally Intelligent

Sticking to a sleep schedule can be invaluable.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Get an extra hour of sleep.

For whenever you’re feeling: Constantly tired; sluggish; but also, maybe you just love sleep and want to do it more.

What it is: These are the people who have told me to get more sleep: my doctor, my mom, Instagram “influencers,” bloggers, health experts in the media, and my husband. Before I had a baby, I used to get a lot of it. Now I get a lot less and I’m constantly tired. But that’s parenting for ya.

If I could, I would love to get eight to nine hours of sleep a night, but that’s not possible, right? Yes, I do have to get up earlier to accommodate my busy schedule, but I don’t have to stay up until midnight reading a book, or watching a dozen ASMR videos.

So, in an effort to be healthier, I’m going to try to get an extra hour of sleep at night by going to bed earlier.

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How it can help: The amount of sleep you need in a 24-hour cycle depends on the person (and their age), so the National Sleep Foundation has created a rule-of-thumb chart that shows the average number of hours of sleep you should get, depending on your age. For example, if you’re between the ages of 26 to 64, you should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep a day.

Even if you feel like you’re getting a decent amount of sleep, experts say that most teens and adults are sleep deprived (30 per cent of adults get fewer than six hours a night). So, an extra hour of zzz’s can make a huge difference in how you feel, both physically and mentally.

You’re going to feel better, you’ll have more energy, you’ll have better ideas ... your mood’s going to be better,” Rachel Salas, an associate professor of neurology who specializes in sleep medicine and sleep disorders at Johns Hopkins University, told BBC News.

Getting a good night’s sleep will help you concentrate better, be more productive, give you more energy and speed, lower the risk of heart disease, prevent depression, and make you more emotionally intelligent.

How to get started: The National Sleep Foundation has a few helpful tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, including:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule
  • Practice a relaxing nighttime ritual
  • Get regular exercise
  • Turn off your devices (phones, laptops, e-readers, iPads) before you go to bed
  • Make sure the temperature levels are comfortable
  • Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before bed
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow

Personally, because I know that my phone is keeping me up later, I turn it off and put it on my bookshelf across from my bed so I can’t reach for it. This forces me to turn off the lights earlier because now all I can do is read for a few minutes rather than watch YouTube videos for an hour or two.

So, if you can pinpoint the one thing that is preventing you from going to bed earlier, like a late dinner, a TV show, the kids’ bedtime routine, or checking work emails, find a way to deal with it earlier so it doesn’t keep you up late.

If you have insomnia (trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep), talk to your doctor about how you can tackle it. Maybe anxiety is keeping you awake, and if that’s the case, learning relaxation and meditation techniques is a good start to help calm your mind when you’re trying to fall asleep.

How it makes us feel: Getting eight hours of sleep a day as opposed to my usual six hours makes me feel like a brand new person. I feel like I can tackle anything, whether it’s my baby’s tantrums, a work deadline, or making dinner.

And generally, I’m in a much better mood and feel more content during the day.

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And that’s your habit of the day.

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