Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep

An age-old adage says that an hour before midnight is worth three afterwards. But does it have any substance? Seven or eight hours of sleep are ideal for most of us. More than that can mean we wake up looking puffy and feeling sluggish. Chronic lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, has an incredibly negative effect on the way we feel - and on the way we look. When we are asleep, our cells rebuild and repair themselves (the growth hormone functions only at night). If you dont sleep, this function is impaired. If you sleep badly, you are likely to become stressed, and this can cause the capillaries to tighten up, affecting the flow of nutrients to the skin and scalp and causing the skin and hair to look dull. ...

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School has identified some simple tips for making the sleep of your dreams a nightly reality:

(1) Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment: A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. And make sure your bedroom is equipped with a comfortable mattress and pillows.

(2) Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine: Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch television, or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities—doing work, discussing emotional issues.

(3) Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired: Struggling to fall sleep just leads to frustration. If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, like reading or listening to music until you are tired enough to sleep.

(4) Don’t Be a Nighttime Clock-Watcher: Staring at a clock in your bedroom, either when you are trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep. Turn your clock’s face away from you.

(5) Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s internal clock to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.

(6) Nap Early—Or Not at All: Many people make naps a regular part of their day. However, for those who find falling asleep or staying asleep through the night problematic, afternoon napping may be one of the culprits.

(7) Exercise Early: Exercise helps promote restful sleep if it is done several hours before you go to bed. Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly—as long as its done at the right time.

(8) Follow Through: Some of these tips will be easier to include in your daily and nightly routine than others. However, if you stick with them, your chances of achieving restful sleep will improve. ...