Five Tips for A Getting A Better Night’s Sleep

Sleeping better at night leads to more productive days and better overall health. Tired days and restless nights should be the exception, not the norm. If you find yourself staring at the clock at 3 a.m. more often than not, you may be sabotaging your sleep without even knowing. Have you found that counting sheep just isn���t cutting it? Here are five lifestyle tweaks for getting a better night���s sleep:

Get on schedule
Go to bed around the same time every night and get up the same time each morning — even on weekends. Having more energy during the day may be worth the tradeoff.

Your daily routine also plays a role in how well you sleep. Stay away from big meals close to bedtime. Exercise regularly. Experiment by exercising at different times of the day until you find the window that works best. If you get a burst of energy after you sweat, stay away from intense physical activity at night.

Turn off your TV and computer at least an hour before you go to bed. The light from the screen may suppress the production of melatonin, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Your mind will continue to be stimulated even after you close your eyes, even if you find it relaxing to fall asleep with the TV on. Electronics with back-light, such as tablets, have a similar affect. Change your before bed ritual to include activities that help you and your brain unwind. Listen to soothing music or audiobooks. Practice progressive relaxation or meditation. This will also help you keep stress and anxiety in check, both of which will keep you awake at night.

Create a comfortable sleeping environment
When it is time to shut out the lights, make sure you do so literally. Make your bedroom more conducive to sleep by keeping it dark and cool. Use comfortable pillows and blankets. Wear socks if your feet get cold. If your environment does not leave room for peace and quiet, think about trying an eye mask or ear plugs. White noise may help block out unwanted sounds and lull you to sleep. Oscillating fans, air conditioners or sound machines may do the trick. Turn your bedside clock so you cannot see the time. Watching the clock all night will stress you out and make it harder to fall asleep.

Know how to nap
Sleeping throughout the day may be influencing your insomnia. Naps can worsen sleeping problems, but there are times when napping can make you more alert, so stick to 30-minute power naps at least eight hours before your bedtime.

Cut alcohol
Alcohol may knock you out, but it will also decrease the quality of your sleep and interfere with REM sleep. Avoid booze before bed. As a general rule of thumb, don���t drink too many fluids before bed. You don���t want to wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Also cut your caffeine intake. Your late afternoon cup of coffee may be to blame for your sleeping difficulties. Smoking also functions as a stimulant. Kicking the habit will help you sleep better.