Sleep is important to our overall health. Not getting enough sleep can interfere with the growth and healing of tissue, as well as the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, metabolism, brain function and memory. Sleep also helps your immune system function. Insomnia is a general term used to describe an assortment of sleep problems. Insomnia can refer to trouble falling asleep, the inability to stay asleep, and the feeling of still being tired after getting a full night’s sleep. It can be very frustrating to not be able to sleep when you are tired. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to stop insomnia.

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    Follow a sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning can help you get more restful sleep. Having a sleep schedule allows your body’s internal clock to regulate itself, which can help you fall asleep and stay asleep with less effort.

    • Choose a bedtime that is realistic for your lifestyle. If you know you function best early in the morning, try getting up early and going to bed early.
    • Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Life gets hectic and this can be difficult, but you’ll see positive benefits for your overall health.
    • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends. While it’s tempting to grab some extra zzz’s on Sunday mornings, you’re actually doing yourself harm. Instead of trying to sleep later, choose a relaxing activity for weekend mornings. Have brunch with friends or go for a leisurely walk.
    • Try not to fall asleep on the couch. Many people are prone to dozing after dinner. This can disrupt your sleep schedule and keep you from falling asleep later. If you need a pick-me-up after your nighttime meal, do something mildly active, such as doing the dishes or phoning a friend.

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    Create a peaceful sleep environment.Where you sleep has a big impact on how well you sleep. It’s important to create an atmosphere that is conducive to restful sleep. This means you want the temperature and the sounds that are right for you.

    • Research shows that a cool bedroom is most conducive to sleep. Try to make sure that your room is a comfortable 65 degrees.
    • Your mattress, pillows, and bedding all affect your ability to fall asleep. Find a mattress that offers plenty of support. Your pillow should also support your head and neck. Sheets and blankets should not be scratchy. They should feel smooth and cool against your skin.
    • Turn off the electronics. Watching television as you fall asleep can keep your mind racing. You should also avoid taking your laptop to bed or looking at your phone while you try to fall asleep. The light from the screen can cause you to stay awake.
    • Find the right noises. White noise can be soothing and help stop insomnia. Try sleeping with a fan on or consider investing in a sound machine.

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    Relax. Many people who suffer from insomnia are also suffering from some type of anxiety. Maybe you are worried about money or you have a big project coming up at work. Try quieting your mind before heading to bed. It’s difficult, but if you stop worrying, you can sleep better.

    • Try making a list. Write down all of the things you need to do tomorrow. Then set the list aside. Your brain will feel more settled that you have acknowledged your tasks and will be more likely to stop racing.
    • Try not to stress if you are wide awake when you should be sleeping. Instead of staring at the clock and worrying about lack of sleep, give yourself permission to get up. Do something relaxing, such as a few yoga poses. You could also read for a little bit. You’ll be more likely to become sleepy if you stop worrying about it.

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    Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity may help you sleep better. Research shows that moderate exercise each day will help you feel less stress. When you are less anxious, you will sleep more soundly.

    • Try to be active for at least 60 minutes each day, with about 30 minutes of moderate exertion. You could do a low impact activity such as swimming or walking.
    • Don’t exercise within a few hours of your ideal bedtime. Your adrenaline will be flowing and you’ll have a harder time falling asleep.

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    Watch your diet. There is a clear connection between eating healthy and quality sleep. To stop insomnia, try to eat a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and added sugars. You should also aim to stop eating a few hours before you go to bed.

    • Avoid caffeine for seven hours before bed. This includes coffee, sodas, and chocolate.
    • Stop drinking alcohol three hours before bedtime. A glass of wine after dinner might help you relax, but it’s effects will interfere with the quality of your sleep.