Whether you’re an athlete, an executive, a student, or a parent, you’re balancing many obligations and demands throughout the week. Staying productive and focused requires effective time management and organizational skills but there’s another proven tactic that many of us have forgotten: the effects of a good night’s sleep.

Sleep reduces stress, increases productivity, helps us maintain a healthy weight and diet, maximizes physical stamina, increases our ability to pay attention, and results in higher test scores. In fact, it’s an essential component of effective learning. Current research shows that adequate sleep is critical for processing information that has been learned during the day. After taking a class, studying, acquiring a new skill, or completing a round of homework, it’s important to get a full night’s rest so that your brain can consolidate and practice what it knows.

It’s a myth that we need less sleep as we get older. What is true, however, is that as a society we sleep less and have trouble waking up to start the day. How much sleep is enough? Children need 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night, adolescents need between eight and 9.25 hours, and adults should aim for seven to nine hours of shuteye.

If you’re having difficulty putting strong sleep habits into practice, try these tips.

  • Dim the lights at night and be sure to get lots of daylight in the morning
  • Exercise or play sports early in the day
  • Establish a sleep routine with a regular bedtime (10 pm is best for teens and adults) and begin to wind down with a bath or meditation before you hit the hay
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
  • Sleep in a quiet and cool environment
  • Love your bed: invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, sheets, and nightclothes
  • Turn off music, electronic devices, and your television before you turn in
  • Sleep in on weekends for an extra hour or two, but avoid binge sleeping, which can throw your body off track
  • Give up smoking

References:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/brain/a-good-sleep-makes-everyone-sharper-healthier-and-calmer-especially-teens/article8765535/

http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/09/offline-learning-how-the-mind-learns-during-sleep.php

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need