1. Keep in mind the seven keys to sleeping soundly: save your caffeine for the morning, defend your last hour, keep your sleep cave dark and cool, sleep 7-8 hours per night, don't snooze, and optimize your naps. Even if you can't achieve these on a daily basis due to your line of work, at least prioritize your sleep on your days off. 

2. Sleeping better will reduce the risk factors associated with heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, will strengthen your immune system, will build muscle, will regulate your appetite, and will help with learning, problem-solving, creativity, and your ability to manage stress. 

We’re at the end of the sleep component….but you’re going to keep working at it. You know how important sleep is. You can’t be exhausted and lead a high performance life. You can’t drag around and be your best self at work or at home.

Here’s what you’ve achieved:

You learned that sleep maintains your health. You know it reduces the risk factors associated with heart attacks, strokes and cancer. You know that your immune system is strengthened by sleep, helping to keep colds, flu bugs, inflammation and infection at bay. You know that you build muscle and regulate appetite when you sleep well. You know that your brain gets scrubbed clean. And you know that your learning, problem-solving, creativity and ability to manage stress are boosted.

Here are the 7 micro-wins for sleeping soundly, performing better and being healthier.

1. Save your coffee for the morning. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that stays in your system for about six hours or even longer. Avoid foods or drinks with caffeine for 6-8 hours before your bedtime. That coffee after dinner is just not a good idea. 

2. Defend your last hour. Our hectic lives mean that we often come home from work jacked up and are still revved at bedtime. Create a calming ritual to help lower the cortisol in your body. Make a to-do list and put it aside, stop checking email or other electronic devices by 8 p.m., and read in bed. 

3. Your sleep cave should be pitch black. Light reduces your melatonin levels, and low melatonin can lead to disrupted sleep. Even light from your alarm clock is enough to wake you up. Keep it really, really dark.

4. Your sleep cave should be cool. Your body naturally cools down at night by about 0.3-0.4 degrees C, and that drop in temperature makes you drowsy. Keep the room no warmer than 19 degrees C to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

5. Sleep 7-8 hours per night and be consistent. Our brains and bodies love regular routines. Not only are your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin well regulated by a good sleep routine, you lower the amount of stress caused by constantly changing sleep and wake times. Sleep for at least 7.5 hours and keep your fall-asleep and wake-up times consistent. 

6. Snoozers are losers. Keeping a regular sleep cycle and clocking at least 7.5 hours of shut-eye means that you’re likely to wake up out of REM sleep. This is a good time to wake up, as you’ll feel refreshed. Hitting the snooze button means waking up out of Stage 1 or Stage 2 sleep – not good! You’ll feel groggy and gross. Don’t do it.

7. Nap happy. There is growing evidence that napping improves energy, productivity, cognitive functioning and health. If you don't have time for a full 90-minute full cycle nap, take a short 15-minute power nap to improve alertness.

There you have it, folks… all of the sleep wisdom wrapped up in a warm (but not too warm!) blanket to take into your (very dark and quite cool) bedroom with you. With this knowledge of practical things to do to improve your sleep, your days will be the best they can be.

It seems like a no-brainer to get the right amount of rest. And yet, I know it’s a daily struggle.

Practical steps help a lot. Embrace the process of building your sleep cave: getting your bedroom really dark, keeping screens out, cooling the air, and having a few good fiction books at hand. Also, monitor your caffeine, avoid gastro-distressing foods, be consistent in your bedtime and wake time, fight like a hyena to get 7.5 hours of sleep, and avoid snoozing before or after your alarm.

Remember, make 1% improvements. You can’t do everything at once. Small steps really matter and you can always do a bit more. And you really can sleep better.

Today's POWER-UP: Apply the 1% Better concept to your Sleep

Every night, you can make a 1% improvement to your sleep situation! Aim for 15 minute improvements and 1% better sleep. Micro-wins add up over time to change your life!