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Simple ways to improve your sleep quality

Good sleep is one of the best ways to improve your health. Sleep is right up there with diet and exercise as one of the key factors in wellness. Still, too many of us toss and turn at night and wake up tired. The good news: a few changes to your daily routine can vastly improve how well you sleep.

Here are seven simple steps to better slumber.

1. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Go to bed at about the same time every night and get up at the same time in the morning. As much as possible, maintain this routine through the weekend. It might be a hard habit to get started, but most people come to like it over time.

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Also, stay out of bed for reading and miscellaneous activities. Use your bed only for sleeping and romance.

2. Create a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom

Your bedroom should be quiet and dark with a comfortable temperature. Consider darkening shades if there are streetlights outside.

Remove electronic devices. If you have a home office in the bedroom, shut your laptop at night and put it in a drawer. You may not be aware of the blue light that phones and devices put out, but your body notices. They make it seem like daytime.

Your bedroom walls should be a relaxing color. Many experts favor light blue. The room should be neat and free of clutter. Even when the lights are off, you carry the feel of your surroundings to bed with you.

3. Exercise Daily

Being physically active during the day builds a routine that helps your body distinguish between day and night. If you’ve been active, you’ll generally fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.

4. Be Smart with Naps

Short daily naps can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but long naps or late naps can keep you from sleeping at night. For most people, that means avoiding naps longer than about 25 minutes or later than 3:00 PM.

5. Avoid Large Meals, Alcohol and Caffeine Near Bedtime

A light snack is fine, but big meals need to be digested. Both alcohol and heavy foods might help you fall asleep, but you’re likely to wake up during the night and stay awake while your body processes the food and drink.

Caffeine is, of course, a stimulant that will keep you from reaching dreamland in the first place. Most people do well to avoid coffee and caffeinated soda later than early afternoon.

6. Establish an Evening Routine

Make the last hour of the day an hour for you. Listen to some gentle music, do some light reading, meditate or enjoy some relaxing breathing exercises. Most important, put away your electronic devices for this hour of winding down.

7. Sleep with a Good Mattress, Pillow and Bedding

There are more good mattresses available than ever before. Don’t neglect a pillow that fits your sleep style and comfy sheets. This is not merely an expense. It’s an investment in your health.