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7 Ways to Improve Your Sleep for Sleep Awareness Week

By Brian Acton

The National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week is March 11th  - March 17th this year. The organization is devoted to educating the public and promoting the benefits of a good night’s rest. Sleep is an important component of your overall health, affecting your physical and psychological wellbeing and dictating the quality of your waking life. If you aren’t getting good sleep on a regular basis, Sleep Awareness Week is the perfect time to take action. Here are seven ways to improve your sleeping for Sleep Awareness Week.
  1. Start Following a Sleep Schedule
Your circadian rhythm (also known as your internal clock) regulates your sleeping and waking cycles. If you go to sleep and wake up at random or inconsistent times, you’re disrupting that rhythm and your body will have trouble recognizing when it’s time to sleep and wake up. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends) you’ll help your body maintain its internal rhythm and you’ll get better rest.
  1. Get a Better Pillow
The quality of your sleep can depend on your pillow. A pillow with the wrong level of support will lead to neck pain or stiffness. Some pillows tend to retain heat, making you sweat. Others are simply uncomfortable, causing you to toss and turn. If your pillow isn’t getting the job done, it’s time to get a better one.
  1. Ditch the Electronics
The light emitted by electronics, such as televisions, cell phones, and tablets, inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. Using gadgets right before bed can actually sabotage your ability to get a good night’s rest. Lay off the electronics at least an hour before bed.
  1. Block the Light
If you don’t hang curtains, or if the curtains you do have let in too much light, you might be reducing your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Outside light can cause you to wake up or prevent you from getting a truly deep sleep. Investing in some blackout curtains could do you a world of good.
  1. Get Some Exercise
A consistent exercise routine reduces stress and tires you out, making it easier to doze off and improving the quality and duration of your sleep. Getting into exercise will convey many other health benefits as well. Just avoid exercising immediately before bed, as the stimulation and increased heart rate will actually make it harder to fall asleep.
  1. Relax
This may seem obvious, but your body needs time to unwind before bed. If you’re running errands or working right up to the moment you go to bed, your mind may still be too active and stimulated to allow you to get quality sleep. Give yourself some time to relax.
  1. Reduce Noise
Busy streets and loud neighbors can contribute a lot of sleep-disturbing environmental noise. On the flipside, some people have trouble falling asleep when it’s dead silent. You can reduce noise with earplugs or create a better noise environment with a sound machine. These solutions are affordable and easy to use.  Sources: https://sleep.org/ https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/what-circadian-rhythm
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