How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

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We all know about eating well and exercising for good health, but how many of us know that getting enough sleep is just as important? In our busy lives, sleep is a precious commodity that often gets sacrificed. The truth is that a good night’s sleep plays a huge role in how you feel, how you function, and in your overall health. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep every night, and the quality of your sleep is important as well. Here are some tips for getting the best sleep for your health:

  • Avoid napping during the day, especially in the afternoon. This seems obvious- it will prevent you from feeling sleepy enough at bedtime.
  • Get enough regular exercise, but not within two hours of bedtime, which can leave you feeling overly stimulated and energetic.
  • Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol (yes, alcohol!) 4-6 hours before bed.
  • Don’t eat too much before bedtime. Avoid heavy, spicy, and sugary foods before bed.
  • But don’t go to bed hungry, either, since that can keep you up, too. If you’re hungry, eat a light snack┬áthat will help stimulate sleep inducing chemicals in your body. Examples of good bedtime snacks are half a turkey sandwich, a small bowl of whole grain cereal with low fat milk or yogurt, or a banana.
  • Stick to a regular bedtime routine. That will tell your body that it’s time to start winding down. Take a warm bath, listen to soft music, read a book. Those are all relaxing activities that will help soothe and calm your body and brain for sleep.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day in order to establish a regular sleep/wake cycle.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment. An uncomfortable pillow and mattress can really ruin your night. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature; if it’s too hot or too cold it will affect your sleep. Be careful to block out noise and light. Consider a while noise machine if that helps you, and earplugs if you really can’t control the noise around you. (Snoring partner, anyone?)
  • Use your bed only for sleep. No working in bed! And watching TV in bed is not such a great idea, after all. Or any screens for that matter, since the light can mess with your melatonin- a hormone that affects your sleep. If you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes, get up, do something relaxing, and then come back to bed when you feel drowsy.

It’s also important to be relaxed in the evening. Try to avoid stress so that you can calm down and get a good rest. Sweet dreams!