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A better night's sleep means better health for both the mind and body. All it takes is eight straight hours to feel more energized, more refreshed, more alive than ever before. Here are tips to help you get the restful sleep you need and deserve.

1. Stick to a schedule - Biologically, we are creatures of habit. Getting to sleep at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning will keep your body wired for restful sleep.

2. Keep the bedroom about sleep - Train your body to associate your bedroom with sleep and sleep alone by keeping TVs, computers, and other sleep distractions outside.

3. Limit caffeine and other stimulants - If you can't avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine completely, try to limit your intake too close to bedtime. You may be surprised at how long they stay in your system.

4. Exercise early and often - In addition to sleep problems, an endless number of health concerns can be helped with regular exercise. Just avoid hyping up your body with a workout too close to bedtime.

5. Consider your mattress - A supportive and comfortable mattress could be the key to unwinding. If you wake up to aches and pains, or if your mattress is 5 to 7 years old, it may be time for a replacement.

6. Avoid eating too close to bedtime - When we eat before bed, our bodies remain active in digestion and produce energy when we are trying to sleep. Save your sleep with earlier snacking.

7. Adjust the temperature dial - Cooler temperatures tend to help us drift off, mirroring the drop in body temperature that occurs when we sleep. Ideal temperatures vary from person to person, so find a temp you are comfortable in.

8. Ritualize your sleep - Just as going to bed at the same time each night will help your sleep patterns, performing the same actions right before bed, such as reading or taking a bath, will help signal your body for restful slumber.

9. Make time for sleep - In our busy lives, sleep is too often sacrificed. Moving sleep higher up on the "to-do" list will result in a healthier, happier, more productive you!

10. Get your doctor involved - If you try these tips and are still having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, don't take it lying down. Consult your doctor to target the problem and explore further options for healthy sleep.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014
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