Wellness for the Sleep-Deprived

Kelly Coffey
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Q:  Hey, Coffey – how can I consistently exercise, eat well, maintain emotional equilibrium and make steady progress toward my healthiest, happiest self on an average of 5-6 hours of sleep? 

A:  You can’t.

When we’re tired, life is about just making it through the day; getting to work alive, 1 surviving the workday, 2 and pulling off evening obligations. 3 We keep ourselves upright all day with drugs and sugar, collapse in a heap in front of a screen, eat more junk, and go to bed way too late – again.  <!–more–>

Don’t get me wrong, sleep isn’t a magic bullet. Getting eight hours every night won’t make you the kind of person who thinks nothing of preparing healthy meals. Eight hours of shut-eye will not catapult you to the gym every morning at 6 am. But you can bet your butt you’ll be a lot more likely to make those kinds of choices once you’re consistently getting enough sleep.

To that end, here are 5 tips to help get your ass in bed at a reasonable hour:

1- Make it a decafternoon.

In the morning, do what you will in the caffeine department; after noon, cut it out.

2- Front-load your screen time.

Stare at screens earlier in the evening, if at all. Nothing’s going on tonight that you can’t read –  or watch – tomorrow.

3- Set a get-ready-for-bed alarm.

When that puppy goes off, begin the process of bedding down for the night. Aim to be in bed 15 minutes before you’d like to be asleep – set the alarm accordingly.

4- Stick to a pre-sleep routine.

Figure out what yours is, or should be, and follow it. In the same order. Every night.

5- Go to bed when you’re tired.

Assuming your other obligations are met, if you’re tired, go to bed. No one will miss you, and you won’t miss anything good, I promise.



  1. Caffeine.
  2. More caffeine, a sugary snack, followed by a starchy lunch, and probably another sugary snack.
  3. A quick and easy dinner? Hmm, how about pasta?/ref] so we can finally ‘relax.’ 4With a sweet treat because, by God, we deserve it! That, and some counter-productive, hyper-stimulating screen time.

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