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Improve Your Sleep

woman waking up from restful sleep

Sleep is a key factor in your mental and physical health. Poor sleep can have negative effects on your brain function, hormones, mental acuity and can lead to weight gain. If you are tossing and turning at night, there are some easy ways you can take back control of your quality of sleep.

Here are some simple habits one can incorporate each day to promote improved sleep:

Avoid stimulants

Stay away from caffeine for at least 12 hours before bedtime and avoid nicotine for several hours before bedtime. Avoid any over-the-counter medications that may disturb sleep such as diet pills, decongestants and pain medications that contain caffeine. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your prescription medicines to determine if they may interfere with sleep.

Wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends

This consistent pattern will strengthen your internal clock. Exposure to bright daylight (or equivalent) at wake-up time for 30 – 60 minutes can help keep your internal clock “on time.”  This may be particularly important for young adults who tend to have a slower internal clock.

Exercise daily over time

This improves sleep quality. Even 30 minutes of walking daily can improve the quality of your sleep. Make sure to finish exercising at least two hours before bedtime to give your body a chance to wind down after the exercise.

Avoid over-stimulation before bedtime

Reduce the brightness of lights, take a warm bath to relax and avoid exciting or arousing activities just before bed; sex is an exception as it can be relaxing. Avoid scary or thrilling books or movies, and arguments with family members or friends just before going to bed.

Discontinue napping

Avoiding naps especially in the afternoon will affect the ease to fall asleep at night. If you have pain or chronic discomfort, you need to rest in the late morning or early afternoon to reduce fatigue associated with this pain.

Reduce disturbances of your sleep

Check your bed and bedding for comfort and make note of noises and lights outside your bedroom. Attempt to reduce these disturbances so that obtaining sleep becomes easier. Make sure the room temperature is comfortable and consider sleeping alone if your bed partner disturbs your sleep with increased movement or snoring.

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