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Published on April 27, 2017

9 tips for a better night’s sleep

What if one simple health tweak could help you lose weight, feel energized and happier, look younger, and reduce your risk of death? By getting enough sleep each night, you can enjoy these benefits and more.

How to sleep better

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your slumber.

1. Avoid naps if you have trouble falling asleep at night. Otherwise, feel free to take a 20-minute catnap in the afternoon, ideally around 2 or 3 p.m.

2. Create a bedtime ritual. A relaxing routine can soothe stress and signal to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep. Avoid screen time (including your TV, smartphone, computer, tablet, etc.) an hour before bed. Instead, enjoy a few gentle stretches, prayer or meditation, or a good book (just avoid murder-mystery page-turners).

3. Don’t toss and turn. If you can’t sleep, get up and try a relaxation or breathing exercise to ease you back into sleep.

4. Follow a set sleeping schedule. This helps your body know when to sleep and when to wake up. Try to go to bed and get up the same time each day, even on the weekends or your days off.

5. Get some exercise. Even just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking, can significantly improve your sleep. Exercise may also reduce your risk of sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, two common sleep disorders. Try an after-dinner walk for almost immediate results.

6. Limit alcohol consumption. If you drink, limit it to one or two drinks in the evening, if any. More than that will disrupt your sleep.

7. Make your room a sleep sanctuary. Get rid of the television, put away your smartphone or tablet, adjust the temperature to between 60 and 67 degrees, and invest in a high-quality mattress and pillow.

8. Nix caffeine—including tea, coffee and chocolate—in the early afternoon so it has time to wear off before bedtime.

9. Sideline distractions. Make sure your room is as dark and distraction-free as possible with blackout curtains, a white noise machine or fan, earplugs and an eye mask.

The side effects of too little sleep

Not getting enough sleep—whether you stay up late watching TV or have an untreated sleep disorder—can increase your risk of:

• Accidents

• Death from all causes

• Decreased alertness, memory and problem-solving skills

• Depression

• Diabetes

• Heart attack

• Heart disease

• Heart failure

• High blood pressure

• Irregular heartbeat

• Lower sex drive

• Overeating

• Skin aging

• Stroke

• Weight gain

How much sleep do you need each night?

The National Sleep Foundation has this handy chart that breaks down how much sleep you need in each stage of life. Adults 18 to 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, while adults over the age of 65 may only need seven to eight.

What to do if you don’t get enough sleep

There’s no way around it: Getting enough high-quality sleep is a key to physical and mental well-being. Incorporate these tips and turn in early tonight to start feeling better tomorrow.

If you still struggle to clock a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor. A sleep study at the Pardee Sleep Center can help determine if you have a sleep disorder like insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy or restless leg syndrome.

Source: The National Sleep Foundation