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    If you want to be successful in life, sleep more. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. In fact, three of the richest men in America — Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates — are all huge proponents of sleep.

    Numerous studies have documented how good (or bad) sleep affects human health. For example, sleep helps remove toxic proteins from the neurons in our brains, which helps us think clearly. A lack of sleep, on the other hand, increases the hormone cortisol in our bodies, which damages skin and lead to a number of other health problems. It also hurts creativity, elevates stress, and increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

    Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one third of all U.S. workers are getting less than 6 hours. The CDC also found lost sleep is costing companies more than $63 billion in lost productivity every year.

    If you think skipping sleep from time to time in order to get things done is a smart idea, think again. According to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, the short-term benefit of skipping sleep is nullified by the impact that sleep deprivation has on the brain’s ability to focus for days after the fact.

    Many people claim sleep deprivation actually helps creative thinking. That may be true, but that lack of sleep can lead to poor decision-making, which leads to mistakes and accidents. The Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, says 88% of all pilot errors were tied to fatigue, which decreases attention span and reaction time.

    Of course, most of us know sleep is important, but we struggle at getting enough.

    If you have trouble spending enough time in dreamland, here are 3 simple tips to try

    • Avoid sleep aides. They may help you get to sleep, but they interfere with the natural sleep process, as well as both REM and delta wave sleep, which are important for healthy brain function.
    • Reduce caffeine. Most people think caffeine is only effective for a few hours. While caffeine loses effectiveness during the day, it actually stays in your body 24 hours. That means you’re still feeling the effects at bedtime. We’re not telling anyone to quit cold turkey, but you’re better off keeping it to one or two cups in the morning.
    • Turn off those screens. The lights from your phone screen and your TV set are not soothing your brain — they’re keeping you awake. If you want a good night’s sleep, turn them off!

    The benefits of getting enough sleep go far beyond good health. Because you’ll be less stressed, you’ll be happier at work and more able to deal with small obstacles and hurdles throughout the day. You’ll also have better memory and improved brain functions, so your work quality will improve.

    Not many professions could benefit from adequate sleep as much as the hyper-competitive and challenging mortgage business. Successful loan officers act quickly and think on their feet, but they’re also able to think deeply to solve problems, often pulling from memory ideas and strategies that proved effective in helping previous borrowers. The more they sleep, the better able they can do these things.

    So, go to sleep — and dream about the positive impact it will have on your business, your health, and your life.

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