First things first: There's no prescribed amount of sleep everyone should have per night. Sure, you'll hear "eight hours" tossed around, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no specific magic number. Sleep needs vary with age groups as well as the individual. You may be at your absolute best with seven hours of full sleep per night, while someone else may need nine.
Once you determine the proper amount of sleep per night for your body, adhere to a set bedtime. Often, we pack so much into our days that our heads hit the pillows later and later each night. The key is setting a bedtime and actually sticking to it. If this means you need to cut out an extra television show at night, by all means, do it. Once you get your body into a routine, you'll be able to establish good sleeping habits. And that's what TiVo is for, right?
It sounds like a no brainer, but you might be surprised at how early you actually need to stop drinking caffeine in the day to have a restful night of beauty sleep. This is highly individualized, too, so determine your own body's clock through some trial and error. If you've had a few restless nights, think about when you had your last soda, coffee or double tall mocha-choca-latte. Those few sips might be robbing you of restful sleep.
Sleep experts recommend wrapping up your exercise at least three hours before bedtime. Actually, the best time to exercise is the late afternoon. Here's why: Your body temperature is related to sleep. Since body temps rise during exercise and take at least six hours to drop, wrapping up your routine earlier will give your body time to cool off before hitting the sheets.
Any decorator will tell you to decorate the bedroom in soothing tones without too much clutter. That means no bills, computer, Blackberry or other distracting, worrying items. Keep your bedroom calm and clutter-free so your dreams will be the same!
Even quiet, rural neighborhoods can be noisy at night -- dogs barking, the occasional emergency siren. If you live in the city, these slight distractions probably sound like a welcome relief compared to the din of the city. Wherever you live, nighttime noises may be waking you just enough to prevent you from getting into the deepest levels of sleep. Consider getting a bedside fan or white noise machine to block out things that go bump in the night.
Above all, think of yourself as a properly functioning car. If you're not sleeping sufficiently, there's no gas in the tank. But with proper sleep, you'll have full energetic effect with glowing skin, bright eyes and eagerness to tackle your day. Sleeping Beauty was onto something!
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