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Tips for better sleep

If you don't sleep comfortably through the night you'll have a hard time waking up

7 Tips for a Better Night's Sleep

By Jennifer Gruenemay, ACE-Certified, Staff Writer

 If you don’t sleep comfortably through the night, you’ll have a hard time waking up. Being groggy and cranky is not the ideal way to start out a brand new day full of possibilities. And even if you aim for eight full hours of sleep every night, you’re not guaranteed a restful night. So if you find that you wake up at odd hours of the night or constantly toss and turn during sleep, you could really use a better night’s sleep. Plus: Test your sleep IQ…

1. Dark, Quiet & Cool

The three fundamentals of a great night’s sleep are dark, quiet and cool.

To create a dark, quiet environment and get rid of distracting lights and sounds:

- Shut all the curtains or blinds in your bedroom, and turn off the night light (you’re an adult now.)

- If other family members are going to be staying up later than you and keeping the lights or television on, keep your door closed and ask them not to bother you once you’re in bed.

- Open your window (as long as it’s quiet outside) or keep the fan or air conditioner on to keep a comfortably cool temperature in the room.

A dark, quiet and cool room will help your body realize it’s time for bed, and will help you stay asleep longer.

2. Early Exercise

If you’re restless in the evening and can’t wind down by the time you climb into bed, it could be because you’re not using up enough energy during the day.

Believe it or not, exercising early on in the day helps you better utilize your energy stores during the day.

It also boosts your metabolism and helps you think more clearly.

Better yet, the old restless, agitated feeling you used to experience at night will be replaced by the need to rest your tired body and mind.

By the end of a day that began with exercise, you'll be so exhausted that you won’t want to wait to hit the sack.

3. Food Police

Watch what you eat!

Are you eating or drinking caffeinated foods late in the day?

Do you eat too close to bedtime?

Caffeine’s effects can last for up to seven hours, so lay off the caffeine after noon to ensure that any caffeine left in your system will be used up by the time you’re ready to lie down.

This includes coffee, chocolate and soda, which means that you may have to adjust your evening snack to something healthier, like fruit or popcorn, which is a win-win situation for your waistline.

Also, stop eating at least two hours before you go to bed. The digestive process can disrupt your sleep cycle and may even trigger strange dreams and nightmares.

4. Stress Less

Do the day’s events run through your head non-stop when all you want to do is shut off your mind and drift off to sleep?

Letting stress get the better of you during the day can affect your sleep cycle, making a bad problem worse.

Stress is also linked to countless diseases and a weakened immune system.

5. Get into a Routine

Think about how your heart beats – it’s a steady rhythm: buh-boom, buh-boom, buh-boom. Well your body craves routine, too, particularly during the sleep cycle.

If you’re having a difficult time getting a full eight hours of sleep every night, set yourself some boundaries.

If your bedtime is 10 p.m., and it takes you 30 minutes to fall asleep, set your alarm for 6:30 a.m.

Not only will you ensure that you'll be getting a full eight hours of sleep every night, you’ll also give your body the routine it needs.

Soon, this routine will become familiar to your body. You'll recognize the change once you can't help but be sleepy by 10 p.m. every night.

6. Turn Off the Television

This should be the easiest tip to follow, yet it’s often the most difficult to enforce: turn off the TV, log off the computer, put away the game, turn off the lights, and go to sleep on time!

A full night’s sleep allows your body to rest and prepares you for the day ahead – it’s just that simple.

TV might seem like a great way to lull you to sleep, but you’re actually prolonging the time between crawling into bed and actually falling asleep.

And if you’re not asleep, it doesn’t count as sleep time.

TV also captivates the mind and the imagination, stimulating your brain with vibrant colors and sounds and keeping you awake longer.

Watching TV or a scary movie can also affect the types of dreams you have.

If you really need some entertainment before bed, read a book under a soft light, which is sure to send you dozing in no time at all.

7. Smart Supplements

Certain supplements may help you to relax naturally. For example, taking a daily dose of valerian root extract is said to promote restful sleep.

5-HTP, a derivative of the amino acid Tryptophan, can induce a restful sleep because it boosts serotonin levels, which help you relax. This is the same amino acid that is found in high amounts in turkey; and we all know what happens after a big Thanksgiving meal!

If you prefer a nice, hot cup of tea to popping pills, just make sure it’s decaffeinated.

Try chamomile tea, which promotes restful sleep and will peacefully send you off to dream land.

Are You Smart About Sleep?

Do you wake up feeling rested on most days of the week, or are you just not a morning person? Getting a good night’s sleep affects every aspect of your day, including your mood and your ability to be productive.