Sleep allows your brain to have a much-needed break from all the stresses of your day. When you sleep, your mind is rejuvenated so it could process information. But the biggest question is how much sleep you actually need.

While everyone's needs vary, research shows that adults who get to sleep for 8 hours a day tend to be healthier, and have lower mortality rates compared to those who sleep more or less than 8 hours.

There are also many health problems you may experience due to lack of sleep. For instance, you could be more prone to catching colds and gaining weight. That's because lack of sleep prevents your body from regulating the hormones related to appetite. What's worse is that those who are often sleep-deprived are likely to have high blood pressure and inability to focus and concentrate.

The quality of sleep you get may also affect your performance at work. Lack of sleep can have negative effects on your learning, creativity, memory, emotional stability, and productivity.

Practical Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

1. Do regular exercise. Exercising regularly can significantly improve your sleep. Through exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones that help elevate your mood, reduce stress, and relieve anxiety. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day is usually enough. Take note, however, that it's not recommended that you do any strenuous activity such as exercises within 3 hours of your bedtime as this can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

2. Get enough exposure to daylight. The more you expose yourself to natural daylight, the more melatonin hormone is produced in your body, and this is what makes you feel sleepy. You should try to get at least 2 hours of exposure each day as this will allow you to sleep better at night.

3. Stay away from heavy meals or snacks close to bedtime. It's not a good idea to eat heavy before bedtime because your body will find it hard to sleep when your stomach is digesting food.

4. Get rid of stress before bedtime. It's very important that you feel relaxed before hitting the bed. If you are worried about the busy day ahead, create a To-Do list so you won't forget anything. By preparing your mind for the following day, you are allowing yourself to relax and get quality sleep.

5. Establish a consistent sleep pattern. It's recommended that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day so you'll have better chances of getting good sleep. Consistency is very important, so you have to stick to your bedtime even during weekends.

Sleep plays a vital role in keeping your mind refreshed after a busy and stressful day, and it can also enhance your performance at work. Not getting enough of it may cause various health problems, and may affect your capacity to perform your best. That's why even life coaching professionals emphasize the need of an individual to get the right amount and quality of sleep.

Author's Bio: 

Cecile Peterkin is a certified career and retirement coach, and a registered member of the Career Professionals of Canada and the International Coach Federation. She is also the Founder and Senior Career Strategist at Cosmic Coaching Centre, provider of career and life management services for middle managers and mid-career professionals across Canada, United States and Europe.