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10 Easy Things You Could Do to Get Better Sleep

Losing a bit of sleep here and there is natural, but when few hours of quality shut-eye starts looking like a trend, it might be time to identify culprits that are throwing off your slumber. 

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Everyone has an occasional sleepless night, but you might be sabotaging your sleep and not even know it. “Our society is 24/7,” says Rachel Salas, M.D., associate professor in neurology at Johns Hopkins University Center for Sleep. “We can do anything, any time. We’ve made sleep a luxury when it’s actually a basic human need.” Here’s what else wrecks your sleep:

See if you have an underlying sleep disorder.

“It’s easy for women to say, ‘I’m tired because I do everything,’ but if you get consistent sleep yet still feel excessively tired during the day, get evaluated for a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea,” says Salas.

Make your room darker.

Light interferes with your body’s internal clock. Use lamp dimmers before bed. Cover up glowing bedside clocks. Don’t charge your mobile phone on your nightstand, says Salas.

 

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Follow a regularly scheduled program.

Stick to the same bedtime (even on weekends) to regulate your body clock, says the National Sleep Foundation. If you nap, keep it from 10 to 30 minutes -- longer impacts your body’s sleep drive.

Ditch your afternoon brew.

Caffeine can linger in your system for 12 hours, says Salas. Ditch it after noon. Don’t forget it’s in tea, chocolate, and sports beverages.

 

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Get new pillows!

Flat pillows and old mattresses may cause neck or back pain, interfering with your ability to find a comfy sleep position. The National Sleep Foundation suggests you replace your pillows every 18 months. Get a new mattress if yours feels saggy, or try a memory foam topper.

 

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Stick to routine.

“The idea is to let your brain know you’re getting ready to sleep,” says Salas. Create a nightly ritual. Take a warm shower or bath; don your PJs; do some relaxing reading.

Be quiet.

Car doors slamming, the garbage truck, the heat or air conditioning kicking on: You may not realize that subtle noises can awaken you partway throughout the night. “A white noise machine or fan supplies a constant sound to crowd out ambient noise,” says Salas.

Make it just right.

“This is a huge reason people don’t sleep soundly,” says Salas. Keep your room somewhere between 65 to 69 degrees, which is an ideal range for most people.

 

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Watch what you eat.

Spicy or fatty meals may cause you to wake up with indigestion. Eat three hours before bed. Ditto for alcohol. If you’re hungry before bed, a light snack such as yogurt or cereal is fine, says Salas.

Unplug.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, your body clock is in sync with the rise and setting of the sun, but TV and electronics emit blue light that can restrain the production of melatonin, the chemical that makes you sleepy. Unplug at least an hour before bed.

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