5 tips for a good night’s sleep

After a long day, the thought of sleep may be enough to put a smile on a person’s face unless he or she happens to be one of the millions of Americans who struggle with insomnia.

Nearly 60 million Americans experience insomnia each year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Another 40 million suffer from long-term sleep disorders.

Dr. Muhammad Hamadeh, pulmonologist and medical director of Advocate Christ Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep.

“When people don’t get sleep on a regular basis it can cause daytime drowsiness, irritability and low concentration,” he says. “Sleep is also vital to the immune system, so lack of sleep can potentially lead to illnesses.”

For a full night’s sleep, Dr. Hamadeh recommends five tips:

  1. Relax an hour before bed and develop sleep rituals – After a day of running around, it may be hard to calm yourself down at night. Allow yourself an hour before bed to let your mind and body wind down with soothing activities and thoughts.
  1. Head into bed only when you are tired – Only lay in bed when you’re ready to go to sleep. You want your mind to associate your bed with sleep, not work or television. If you are still awake after 20 minutes, go into another room for a relaxing activity until you are ready for bed.
  1. Don’t watch the clock – Continuously checking the clock puts pressure on yourself, adding more stress to the environment and preventing you from falling asleep.
  1. Follow a regular sleep schedule – Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Fluctuating bedtimes confuse your internal clock, throwing off your sleep schedule.
  1. No naps – No matter how good they make you feel, do not nap. It can throw off your sleep schedule at night.

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