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5 musts for better sleep

Lawyers are typically high-achieving people for whom sleep often becomes one of many sacrifices made along the course of professional advancement.

But – “If we are sleep-deprived, we are more vulnerable to stress and anxiety and we don’t cope as well as we should,” says psychology professor June J. Pilcher of Clemson University during the On-Demand CLE webinar “Attorney Wellness: The Wonder of Sleep.”

Here are Pilcher’s top five tips for improving your slumber:

  1. Keep a sleep schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, seven days a week, to help regulate your body clock.
  2. Minimize distractions – Banish the television and cellphone from your bedroom; use an alarm clock instead of your cellphone alarm to wake up.
  3. Eliminate the “blue light” effect – The blue light emitted from the screens we watch suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin. So, turn off the TV and electronics 30 minutes before bedtime.
  4. Develop a relaxing routine – A pre-sleep ritual, which may include reading or other calming activities, helps to “inform” the brain that it’s ready to go to sleep.
  5. Create a good sleep environment – This includes a dark, cool bedroom, a comfortable bed and minimal noise interruptions.

“If you are still awake after 30 minutes, tossing and turning in bed and staring at the clock, get out of bed and do something like read a legal report that is boring you to death for about 30 minutes. Then, get back into bed and try to fall asleep again,” Pilcher advises.

If you have tried all these steps and you are still having trouble sleeping, Pilcher recommends decreasing or changing the ambient lighting, and/or purchasing a new mattress or pillow.

Attorney Wellness: The Wonder of Sleep” is available to ABA members at no charge. It is co-sponsored by the ABA Young Lawyers Division and ABA CLE