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Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

Set a schedule: Go to bed at approximately the same time each night and get up at approximately the same time each morning. Sleeping in on weekends makes it harder to wake up early on Monday morning because it resets your sleep cycles for a later awakening.

Try and spend some time in the sunlight after awakening: Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep, this helps the body's internal biological clock reset itself each day.

Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day: Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although a workout shortly before bedtime may interfere with sleep. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about five to six hours before going to bed.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol: Drinks that contain caffeine act as a stimulant and keep people away when consumed in the evening. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs and some pain medication. Smokers tend to sleep very lightly and often wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs people of deep sleep and REM sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep.

Relax before bed: A warm bath, reading or any other relaxing routine can make it easier to fall asleep. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual. Avoid activities that stimulate you before going to bed, these will tend to keep you awake and they can include activities such as playing computer games, listening to vigorous music or having a shower.

Control your room temperature: It is important that the room be kept at a comfortable temperature that is not too hot or not too cold. Extreme temperatures disrupt sleep or prevent you from falling asleep. It is also important to ensure that your feet are warm, recent research has shown that cold feet are often associated with insomnia and warming the feet can help to sleep more easily.

Don't lie in bed awake: If you can't get to sleep, don't just lie in bed. Do something else like reading, listen to relaxing music or watch TV until you feel tired. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia.

Beware of over the counter sleep medications: Although these medications may be of benefit to help you get to sleep during an occasional bout of sleeplessness, regular use can actually contribute to insomnia by failing to address the underlying causes of the insomnia.

If your sleeping problem is ongoing it is important that you seek professional help as most sleep disorders can be treated effectively using nutritional or herbal medicine.

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