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Seven Steps to Sweet Slumber

Sleep deprivation is a huge health issue. Statistically speaking, more car accidents are caused by drowsy people than drunk people. Long-term sleep deprivation can set you up for health risks including diabetes, obesity, heart disease and irregular hormone levels. Yikes. A good night’s sleep is more important than we though. Nancy Rothstein, self-described "sleep ambassador" wants to make sure you get your ZZZs. She wrote a best-selling children’s book My Daddy Snores, and co-created The Sleep Radio Show. She’s passionate about snoozing. Here are her seven tips on how to hit the sack the right way.
1. Unplug early. Avoid the computer, television, or cell phone before you hit the the sheets. These electronic devices stimulate your body, which is exactly what you don’t want before you start counting sheep.
2. Paint it black. Does the outdoor city light bother you? Does the morning sunlight wake you up earlier than you would like? Invest in black-out curtains, or get eyeshades. Eliminate other light sources, such as your LED alarm clock display or the glare of a computer screen—which should be off at night anyway!
3. Have a routine. Try to get to bed at the same time everyday—even on the weekends. Sticking to a schedule helps your body reinforce regular sleep. This is especially important for children, as irregular and inefficient sleep can have harmful consequences on their development.
4. Just say no. Contrary to popular belief, drinking right before bedtime will not aid your sleep. Try to avoid drinking three to four hours before you go to bed. Avoid caffeine and nicotine for at least eight to nine hours before bedtime.
5. Ritualized relaxation. Some good pre-bedtime activities: taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, reading a book, or just sitting quietly with dim lighting. Nancy even recommends doing a yoga pose called the child’s pose on your bed before going to sleep.
6. Don’t push it. If you can’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something until you feel tired. Practice breathing exercises until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. Try organizing your room, solving a jigsaw puzzle, or listening to soothing music.
7. Beds are for sleeping. Do you live in a small apartment? Tempted to use the bed as a work desk or a couch? Don’t. Make sure your bed is for sleeping only. No exceptions.

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Photo (cc) by Flickr user craigmdennis\n

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