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10 tips to get better sleep

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

As many as 1 in 3 of us have insomnia at some point. This common problem is one of many sleep disorders or problems that can cheat us of enough of the restful sleep at night needed to set us up for the day ahead as well as helping with overall health.

However, you can make it easier to get a good night's sleep every night with these simple steps:

1. Reduce or cut out caffeine. Caffeine can keep you awake. It can stay in your body longer than you might think - the effects of caffeine can take as long as eight hours to wear off. So if you drink a cup of coffee in the afternoon and are still tossing at night, caffeine might be the reason. Reducing or cutting out caffeine at least four to six hours before bedtime can help you fall asleep more easily.

2. Avoid alcohol as a sleep aid. Alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, but it also causes disturbances in sleep resulting in less restful sleep. An alcoholic drink before bedtime may make it more likely that you will wake up during the night.

3. Relax before bedtime. Stress not only makes you miserable, it wreaks havoc on your sleep. Develop some kind of pre-sleep ritual to break the connection between all the day's stress and bedtime. These rituals can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour. Some people find relief in making a list of all the stressful things that have happened during the day, along with a plan to deal with them. This can act as "closure" to the day. Combining this with a period of relaxation perhaps by reading something light, meditating, aromatherapy, light stretching or taking a hot bath can also help you get better sleep. Also, don't look at the clock!

4. Exercise at the right time for you. Regular exercise can help you get a good night's sleep. The timing and intensity of exercise seems to play a key role in its effects on sleep. If you are the type of person who gets energised or becomes more alert after exercise, it may be best not to exercise in the evening. Regular exercise in the morning even can help relieve insomnia, according to some research.

5. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and comfortable. For many people, even the slightest noise or light can disturb sleep like the purring of a cat or the light from your laptop or TV. Consider using earplugs, an eye-mask, window blinds or curtains - everything possible to create an ideal sleep environment. Don't use the overhead light if you need to get up at night; use a small night-light instead. Ideal room temperatures for sleeping are between 15C and 22C (59F and 71F). Temperatures above 24C (75F) or below about 12C (53F) can disrupt sleep.

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