7 A.M.: Make your bed.
Your mother was right—you should tidy up those sheets: People who make their bed every day are 19 percent more likely to report a better night's rest, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation. "Research shows that people with sleep problems who use their bed only for sleep improve their rest," says Judith Davidson, PhD, author of Sink into Sleep: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Reversing Insomnia
. Plus, when your bed is neat and tidy, you're less tempted to crawl in to read a book or talk on the phone.
7:15 A.M.: Throw open the shades.
Getting natural sunlight on your face within two hours of waking helps sync your internal clock to the environment, says Robert Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center in Flagstaff, Arizona
. When your body is aligned with nature's light-dark cycle, the release of melatonin will regulate, so you'll find it easier to fall asleep at night.
12 P.M.: Take a gym break.
A recent study from Oregon State University found that at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week improves sleep quality by 65 percent. Researchers believe that the natural cooldown that occurs after a workout may help hasten the decline in core body temperature that's associated with sleep, so you'll fall asleep more easily when you finally get in bed.
7 P.M.: Dine on whole grains.
Try adding one cup of whole wheat macaroni to your dinner a few nights a week—it contains 38 percent of your daily value of magnesium. "Magnesium has a relaxing effect on the muscles and the nervous system," says Rosenberg. "It also helps with production and absorption of one of the main sleep-promoting neurotransmitters."
8:30 P.M.: Take a bath.
Indulging in a relaxing nighttime ritual that separates you from the worries of the day is key. And a hot bath is a good place to start: A small study published in the journal Sleep
found that older female insomniacs who took a bath at least 90 minutes before bed reported improved sleep quality.
9 P.M.: Watch TV on the couch instead of in bed.
Don't tuck in for the night until you're truly tired. "Every minute you spend awake—and out of your bed—increases your need for deep sleep, also known as your sleep drive," says Colleen Carney, PhD, coauthor of the upcoming book Goodnight Mind: Turn Off Your Noisy Thoughts and Get a Good Night's Sleep
. "Spending more time in bed actually tells your body that you need less rest, so you end up cutting your sleep drive short."
10 P.M.: Sweet dreams!
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