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Sleep: Habits2Have®

Sleep is vitally important to health and overall well-being. The first step to getting more sleep is learning how to sleep. Follow these tips for better sleep habits and better health.

1. Set a bedtime routine—and stick to it.

Go to bed around the same time every night, both during the week and on the weekend. Also, make sure the room you sleep in is dark and quiet, and not too hot or too cold.

2. Turn off the screens.

Television, e-readers, laptops, and smart phones may keep users up later and prevent them from relaxing before bedtime. Also, there is evidence that the artificial light from the screens can trick the brain into thinking it's not nighttime. This may reduce the release of melatonin, a hormone that the body naturally produces to help make you sleepy. Instead, select a relaxing activity, such as reading, listening to quiet music, meditating or taking a warm shower or bath before you turn off the light. These activities can help relax you and help prepare your body for sleep.

3. Don’t stress out.

Ironically, worrying about falling asleep often leads to sleeplessness. To manage sleep-related stress, keep a notebook next to your bed where you can write to-do lists and thoughts that might cause stress and keep you from falling or staying asleep.

4. Get moving and eat right for better sleep.

Try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy or spicy foods within 4 to 6 hours of bed. While a nightcap can help people fall asleep, it also prevents people from falling into deeper, more restorative sleep. Exercise is closely linked to healthy sleep, and the more regularly you exercise, the better you'll sleep. A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found people who exercise reported getting a good night’s sleep more often than non-exercisers. Even when they slept the same amount, exercisers reported better sleep.

5. Talk to a healthcare provider.

If sleep problems persist or are having a big impact on your quality of life, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider who can discuss better sleep habits. You may have a treatable sleep disorder. A healthcare provider also can help find out if another health issue is leading to sleep problems that are keeping you from getting more sleep.

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