7 Tips to Help You Sleep Better

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Tired? You Might Be Guilty of One of These 7 Sleep Sins

Are you a tosser and a turner? A stare-at-the-ceiling fretter? Do you walk around all day feeling like you could close your eyes and fall asleep…right…now…?

If you’re having trouble getting quality sleep, one of the following might be the culprit.

You lie in bed looking at your phone.

Thou shalt not scroll through Facebook in bed. And yet, it’s so tempting to see what’s going on at that moment. Keeping electronics in the bedroom is bad for three reasons: One, they emit light that tells our brains it’s time to stay awake. Two, staring at our devices keeps us from interacting with our bed partners, whether that means conversation, cuddles or hanky-panky. Three, dispatches from our phones, whether they’re news alerts or rants from a friend, can stress us out. Power down!

You like to pour a nightcap or light up a cigarette.

Yes, booze might help you fall asleep faster, but studies show that drinking alcohol before bed leads to less REM sleep (the stage in which we consolidate learning and memories) and more middle-of-the-night wake-ups. And the nicotine that makes cigarettes so deadly in the long run also robs you of sleep in the short run: It’s a stimulant that keeps you awake.

You can only find time to work out at 9 p.m.

Exercise is good for you — that’s not news. But it also raises your body temperature, which can keep you awake if your workout is close to bedtime. Try to get in some sort of exercise every day, but aim to do it in the morning or early afternoon.

You eat heavy, rich dinners.

Yes, a pulled pork sandwich with a side of homemade mac and cheese is delicious, but it might also give you indigestion and heartburn. That’s because rich, fatty foods can trigger acid reflux, which is miserable at any time, but especially in the middle of the night when you want to be snoozing. Just as watching your portion sizes and calorie intake can help you lose weight, it can also help you get better sleep. Try moving your larger meal to midday.

Your weekend and weekday sleep schedules are totally different.

Part of the fun of the weekend is staying up a little later and sleeping in a little more. But having a regular sleep schedule, when you go to bed and wake up at about the same time, is best for your body’s internal clock. When your body knows when to wake up and when to sleep, you will feel more awake during the day and sleepy when it’s time for bed.

You’re a clock watcher.

We’ve all been there. You wake up in the middle of the night and look at the alarm clock. It’s 3:45 a.m., and your mind starts racing. The alarm will go off in two hours. I have to get more sleep, or I’ll be ruined for work. Then you’re too stressed to sleep. If you have an alarm clock, turn its glowing face away from you or put it in a drawer. Resist the urge to check the time until it’s buzzing.

Your bedroom is a lousy place to sleep.

The best room for sleep is dark and cool, about 65 degrees, and uncluttered. Having stacks of paper or visual reminders of undone tasks is anything but relaxing. Sleep experts also recommend a quiet room, which means no falling asleep to the TV. If the rest of your household is noisy and keeps you awake, try a white noise machine or a fan.

Still not getting the rest you need? A sleep specialist can help.

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