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Wake Up to the Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

March 8, 2011

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The ability to function on as little sleep as possible has long been a point of pride for busy Americans, but getting less than 7 hours not only makes you tired, it make you sick. Insufficient sleep has been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease, such as diabetes and depression. Getting a good night's sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing. 

So how much sleep do you need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for adults and as much as 11 hours for children. 

In honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, which runs March 7-13, here are few tips to help you catch that crucial shut-eye: 

Develop a sleep routine
Send a signal to your body that it is time for bed by following a pre-bedtime routine. Doing the same thing every day before going to bed helps you fall asleep faster and makes it easier to keep a regular sleep schedule. 

Avoid over-stimulation at night
Brightly lit screens trick our minds into thinking it is daytime and stimulants like caffeine are designed to keep us awake, so avoid using them in the evening. Getting 30 minutes of exercise everyday helps you sleep, but avoid strenuous activities for at least 2 hours before bed 

Create your perfect ‘sleep habitat’
Your surroundings are essential for a good night’s sleep. Replace pillows and mattresses that don’t give you proper support, and use different types of blankets and linens to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Keep your bedroom quiet and dark, and use an eye mask or whitenoise machine if that is not possible. 

See a specialist
If you are experiencing chronic insufficient sleep, it might be time to see your doctor. Diagnosis and treatments for sleep disorders are getting better all the time, so you don’t have to continue suffering from sleepless nights. 

So, how did you sleep last night? Do you have tips for getting a good night's rest?