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Prepare your room for sleep

Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for a restful night's sleep. Your bedroom should be kept at a cooler temperature during bedtime and should also be free from any noise or other distractions that can disturb your sleep. Your bedroom should also be free of any external light. Check your room for noises, nonessential light or other distractions. This includes a bed partner's sleep disruptions such as snoring. To help you, consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.

Also, it is best to mute the volume on your cellphone and not keep it beside your bed while you sleep. Otherwise, your mind tends to stay more active and not in sleep mode and you might wind up checking your cellphone throughout the night, thus disturbing your much-needed sleep.

The goal is to make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place.

Move the clock

If you have insomnia, looking at the clock can make you anxious. Therefore, it's best to keep it out of view.

Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends

This helps to regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep better and stay asleep for the night.

A bed partner who snores, tosses and turns a lot, talks while sleeping, or gets up often can affect your own sleep

In some cases, using earplugs or adding "white noise" (from a fan or similar humming appliance) can help. If your partner gets up a lot, make sure he or she sleeps closest to the door. If your partner tosses and turns, consider a larger bed, or even separate beds. You may also want to consider an all-foam mattress or a mattress with independent coils. These types of mattresses will have the least amount of "motion transfer."

Get regular exercise

As little as 20 to 30 minutes of activity a day can help make it easier to fall asleep and sleep better, but finish workouts at least two hours before bedtime.

Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual

A relaxing bedtime ritual conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety (which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep). For example:

  • Read a book or magazine by a soft light
  • Take a warm bath
  • Listen to soft music
  • Do some easy stretches
  • Wind down with a favorite hobby
  • Listen to books on tape
  • Make simple preparations for the next day
  • Dim the lights in the hours leading up to bed

Also, practicing relaxation techniques before bed is a great way to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. To help you, try:

  • Deep breathing - Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last
  • Progressive muscle relaxation - Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up to the top of your head
  • Visualizing a peaceful, restful place - Close your eyes and imagine a place that's calming and peaceful. Concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel

If you can't sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired

It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of your sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate an activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.

Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening

Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you're still hungry.