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Your Guide to Never Feeling Tired Again

Get a Restorative Rest

When you have a lot to do (um...always), usually the first thing to get squeezed off your agenda is sleep. But miss out on shut-eye and your energy, positivity, productivity, and memory are sure to suffer. And nearly a quarter of American adults aren't getting enough rest, which has led to an epidemic of daytime sleepiness, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation. The key to bucking this trend is to brush up on sleep hygiene. Try these steps for starters.

  • Cut back on TV and computer time after 8 p.m. If you're already a night owl (you go to bed late and sleep in on weekends), the bright light emitted from television and computer screens can make falling asleep at a decent hour even harder. The reason: Light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted at sunset that tells the brain that it's nighttime, explains John Herman, Ph.D., director of the training program in sleep medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. And when melatonin levels are low, your brain is fooled into thinking that it's still daytime — and remains raring to go. Whenever possible, wait until the next morning to tune in and/or log on. If you must use light-emitting technology at night, try to turn it off an hour or two before hitting the sack.
  • Hide your alarm clock. Watching the clock to see how long it's taking you to drift off or how much time you have left before your alarm goes off can result in a poor night's sleep, says Kelly A. Carden, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Health Center Affiliated with Hallmark Health at Medford in Medford, MA. This hypervigilance keeps the brain awake and alert and prevents you from slipping into deep, restorative sleep. The easy fix: Set your alarm clock, then either face the numbers away from you or put it on the floor, in a drawer, or across the room.
  • Give your pet his own separate sleeping space. At night, pets snore, jiggle their tags, move around a lot, and even hog the covers and bed space. It's no wonder that 53 percent of pet owners who sleep with their pets in the bedroom have some type of disrupted sleep every night, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester, MN. Consider relocating your furry friend's sleeping quarters to another area, even if it's just his own bed in your bedroom.
  • Lower the thermostat. For a good night's sleep, make sure your room is comfortably cool — enough so that you need a light blanket. This ensures that your environment is in sync with your body's internal temperature, which naturally drops during the night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Studies suggest the ideal sleeping temperature is between 54 and 75 degrees; anything cooler or warmer may cause you to wake up.
  • Skip the nightcap. Alcohol depresses the nervous system — the system of cells, tissues, nerves, and organs that controls the body's responses to internal and external stimuli. So while sipping a glass of wine before bed may help you nod off, the sedative effects wear off as your body metabolizes the alcohol, which may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep. Alcohol has also been shown to interfere with the body's natural 24-hour biorhythms, causing blood pressure to rise and heart rate to race at night when it's normally calm and relaxed. You don't have to give up that evening cocktail entirely to achieve sound sleep — just try to avoid alcohol within two to three hours of bedtime.
  • Get your exercise. While scientists don't yet understand why, aerobic exercise has been proved to help you fall asleep faster at bedtime, spend more hours in deep sleep, and wake up less often throughout the night, says Komaroff. At the same time, vigorous exercise can act like a stimulant (which is a great daytime energizer), so schedule your workouts in the morning or afternoon, when you need a boost the most.
  • Follow the 15-minute rule. If you can't fall asleep, or if you wake up and can't get back to sleep within about 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing that will help clear your head, such as reading, meditating, or knitting (but not watching TV or surfing the Web). Then, once you feel sleepy again, go back to bed. If you stay put and fret about being awake, you'll only make yourself more anxious — and less likely to catch the z's you need.
  • Write down your worries. During the day, jot down any stressors that are weighing on you, says Carden. Then, do some mental problem-solving before your head hits the pillow — or, if you're falling short on solutions, tuck your list away and resolve to brainstorm ideas during your morning shower or commute to work. Just knowing you've established a plan for tackling your to-do's will make you feel like you've made some progress, allowing you to relax, drift off — and wake up the next morning ready to take on the day.

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