Simple Ways to a Better Night's Sleep

Few things are more enjoyable and valuable than a good night's sleep. In addition to making us feel better, a good night's sleep also enables us to be more productive and handle all that a day can throw at us.

While nearly everyone is aware of the value of sleep, a 2008 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicated that many Americans simply aren't getting enough sleep. That problem was illustrated when comparing the typical sleep schedules on workdays and non-workdays. On workdays, respondents typically went to bed at 10:53 p.m. and awoke at 5:35 a.m., for an average of 6 hours, 42 minutes of sleep on a worknight. On non-workdays, however, respondents typically went to bed at 11:24 p.m. and awoke at 7:12 a.m., an average of 7 hours, 48 minutes of sleep. That's telling, as many people, intentionally or not, attempting to make up for lost workday sleep on non-workdays.

But sleep is just as important on workdays as it is on non-workdays, and Americans must place the same emphasis on getting a good night's sleep each and every night of the week, regardless of whether or not they're getting up to go to work the next day. To ensure a better night's sleep, consider the following tips.

* Create a better sleep environment. The ideal sleeping environment is a cool room with no light. Rather than cranking the heat before going to bed, turn the heat down a little bit. Also, don't fall asleep with the television on. The television not only lights up a bedroom, but it's also a distraction and can be an interruption after you've fallen asleep.

* Don't work in the bedroom. A bedroom should be for sleeping. Spending time in bed working or reading can make it difficult to fall asleep when you want to.

* Stick to a sleep schedule. As noticed in the National Sleep Foundation poll mentioned above, sleep schedules vary on workdays and non-workdays. However, the body runs best when it's on a regular sleep schedule, so try to stick to a regular schedule as much as possible. On non-workdays, for example, try to wake up no more than an hour later than you would on a typical workday.

* Watch what you eat or drink before going to bed. It's ideal to avoid eating within three hours of going to bed. With respect to beverages, avoid stimulants such as coffees and soft drinks, replacing them with something more mild such as skim milk.

Healthy Lifestyle Online Special Section