Wouldn’t you like to feel good and have energy every day instead of just on the “good” days? Wouldn’t you also like to burn fat and lose weight?

Did you know that weightlifting burns over 500% more fat than aerobic exercise? Did you know that people form their first impression of you in four seconds. Energy . . . weight loss, and great first impressions . . . Is there anyone among us who wouldn’t want to sparkle with as much energy as Robin Williams on a bad day? And, who wouldn’t like to lose weight without lifting a pound?

Happily, there is a magic way to achieve all three and the magic doesn’t come in the shape of a pill.

The magic lies in the joy of a good night’s sleep. If you get a good night’s sleep, you will be moving so often and so energetically, you’ll be losing weight and making better first impressions than the government mint. So how can you get the sleep you need to have a life that sizzles?

Before you begin, understand REM sleep and the four, key stages of sleep.

Sleep and Dreams

The most important first step you can take to achieve a good night’s sleep (teens need ten hours) is to establish a fifteen-minute, before-sleep routine. And here’s a surprise. You should begin your nightly routine by flossing your teeth and brushing your tongue. Why? Well, if you don’t, the bacteria that stays in your mouth will be one more thing your immune system will have to wrestle with all night long. Recent studies have even suggested that the simple act of flossing will add years to your life.

Secondly, begin a pleasant pre-sleep routine at the same time every night. Just as parents set a regular time to tell bedtime stories to signal sleep, so too, the same tricks will work their magic on your mind.

Thirdly, to get a deeper night’s sleep, it is important to relax both mind and body. Before getting into bed, relax your body with three stretches followed by slow, deep breaths. For example, stretch above your head, then deep breathe, stretch horizontally, deep breathe, and stretch toward your feet. Then, deep breathe.

Next, clear the decks—mentally! Write the day’s events and feelings in a journal. Note upcoming events and concerns. Then close the book. Processing will help you move to the next stage—letting go.

Once you’re in bed, close your eyes and take seven, relaxing breaths. Then, visualize a beautiful scene from nature—imagine a scene that includes water—imagine waterfalls, lakes, or winding rivers. Imagine sounds—the call of the loon, chickadees, soft chanting. See movement—a kite flying, a fish jumping near a rock. Finish your nightly routine by picturing yourself awakening in the morning feeling alert and energized. You might affirm three times: “Tomorrow morning, I will awaken feeling alert and energized. Tomorrow morning, I will awaken feeling alert and energized. . .” The more detail you add to your visualizations, the more effective the results will be.

Some Basic “Don’ts”

After supper, don’t drink alcohol or take caffeine (soda, chocolate, or tea).

After seven p.m., don’t drink more than a half glass of water.

I was visiting my father recently and was alarmed to hear him wake up four times each night.

“Oh, that’s nothing to be worried about,” he reassured me. “Most older people say they wake up frequently throughout the night.”

“Dad, are you still taking your nightly coffee each evening?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, I am, but it’s not the coffee. It never used to wake me up before. It’s just the ravages of old age finally getting to your dear old Dad.”

My father was right about older folks having lighter sleep as they aged, but he was wrong to think he had no control over the number of his nightly awakenings. At any age, but especially in older age, increased fluid input in the evening can become frequent fluid output all night long.

Basic “Do’s”

To enhance the depth of your sleep, avoid food and drink after 7:00 p.m.

The next morning is the best time to replenish your body’s fluids by immediately drinking a refreshing glass of water and, as usual, drink the remaining sevenglasses by 7:00 p.m.

Follow a pleasant, pre-sleep routine that includes flossing your teeth and brushing your tongue.

Relax your mind and your body.

Before sleep, write in a journal.

Fill your day with fifteen minutes of exercise that makes you huff and puff—dance, skip, or jog.

Since active, interesting days also lead to deeper sleep, create meaningful projects.

After your work is done, surround yourself with friends who enjoy activities that involve good, old-fashioned, belly laughter—enjoy cards, pot-luck parties, and group outings.

Isn’t it time that you said good-bye to nights of tossing and turning? You no longer need to fear that when dawn breaks, you will be slow-thinking in your mind or sluggish in your body.

Follow these simple routines, and in the twilight of each day, you can look forward to the sleep of the angels.

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