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8 ways to help you sleep better

1. Keep regular hours

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekend). Avoid longer than a 20-minutes nap during the day.

2. Do not go to bed too full or too hungry

If you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, your stomach has several hours of work to do. If you must eat late, eat light. It also can be hard to sleep if your stomach is empty. If you are dieting, have a low calorie snack before bedtime.

3.Cut down on cigarettes, secondhand smoke and caffeine

Stimulants may affect your nerves for hours into the night. Avoid caffeine consumption starting in the late afternoon.

4. Do not drink alcohol after dinner

Drinking in the late evening may help you go to sleep. However, as the alcohol wears off, you may become restless and wake up early.

5. Develop a bedtime routine

Set up a routine so your body knows it is time to go to sleep. For example, listen to some relaxing music, then read for 10 minutes, brush your teeth and go to bed.

6. Expose yourself to bright light in the morning

Open up curtains or blinds to let natural light in.

7. Exercise regularly during the day but not right before bedtime

Heavy exercise in the late evening increases your breathing and heart rate. This interferes with relaxation. Schedule work outs for earlier in the day. A leisurely walk before bed is okay and can try gentle exercises like stretching or yoga to help you relax at night.

8. Keep your bed as a place to sleep

Do not eat, write, watch TV or talk on the phone in bed and try to keep the bedroom dark, quiet and a little cool to help you sleep. Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy. If you do not fall asleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get up and go to another room and do something to relax. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed.

If after following these guidelines you still struggle with getting a full night’s sleep, talk to your doctor or psychologist.

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