1. Lose Control
Of all the things you have power over in your life, sleep isn't one of them. No amount of wishing, hoping or willing can make it happen. As soon as you accept that it's out of your control, you'll spend less time worrying about it. It's like traffic during your morning commute, you can either let it drive you nuts daily or know that it's just a part of life--some days will be smoother than others.
2. Set a Bedtime
You set an alarm to get up every morning, but punctuality for going to bed is just as important. While you don't have to set a nightly alarm, pick an hour for shutting down every night and stick to it--on weekends too. Your body needs routine.
3. Take a Bath
The Sandman comes when the body's temperature drops. Exaggerate that effect with a toasty bath or shower then lie down and let your body heat get low.
4. Black Out
Even the smallest amount of light can disturb slumber. That means TVs, computers, and even hallway lights should be switched to the off position until you've landed safely on the other side of morning.
5. Drown Out Noise
Putting your iPod on shuffle isn't the best idea for drowning out your partner's snoring. You never know when a jolting party anthem will come up. Instead, sleep with a fan on or invest in a sound machine that can produce white noise to block the racket of the outside world.
6. Be Cool
Cold is sleep's partner in crime. So lower your thermostat a bit--and save money on your heat while you're at it--then pile on the blankets. A colder bedroom means your body will function at calmer, more restful speeds.
7. Eat Light
Heavy eating or drinking before bed increases your chances of indigestion or frequent trips to the bathroom. A light dinner about two hours before bedtime can help you sleep more soundly.
8. No Smoking or Drinking
A night of debauchery every now and then is fine but don't make a habit of a glass of wine and a smoke before bed. Alcohol and nicotine are stimulants that can not only keep you wide-eyed, but also interrupt a peaceful night's sleep.
The pillow is like a sports bra; it's the most important equipment for working out your z's. Make sure that your pillows are supportive, comfortable, and suited to your sleeping position tendencies. The pillows of a stomach sleeper and a fetal position person don't have to look the same. Find the best pillow for your sleep habits.
10. Kick the Pets Out
Midnight hairballs, dogs dreaming of digging--need we say more? As adorable as they are, your pets are not sleep's best friends. They're just as prone to be woken up--and thus wake you up--by the little things that go bump in the night.
11. Kill the Pain
If a minor ache or pain is keeping you awake don't fight it. Do whatever you need to make it better, whether it's popping some Ibuprofen or getting to a doctor.
12. Avoid Caffeine
It's fine that you can't get through the day without your morning latte, but make it a rule that no caffeine touches your lips after sundown.
13. Just Breathe
Stop concentrating on the laundry list of concerns in your head and focus on your breath. Deep and slow or short and shallow, the sound of your inhales and exhales can be a lullaby to sooth you into slumber.
14. Stay Calm
When sleeplessness strikes, don't freak out--that will only delay the process further. Give yourself a break. So what if you're having a sleepless night? It's not the end of the world. By thinking, 'Great, I can't sleep. I'm going to be worthless tomorrow,' you're creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Relax and trust that there will be plenty of sleep-filled nights in your near future.
15. Don't Compensate
There is no such thing as making up for lost sleep except for getting back on your regular schedule. Naps, going to bed super early, or sleeping late may seem like the natural fixes to a sleepless night, but they actually send your body mixed messages. Keep your sleep schedule calibrated for your life, not a random late night or a short bout of insomnia.
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