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Having Trouble Sleeping? Learn the Basics of Good Sleep Hygiene!

For anyone who's having trouble sleeping at night, the problem could be your evening sleep habits. Most sleep experts refer to these habits as "sleep hygiene", and whether yours are good or bad can mean the difference between a great night sleep, and tossing and turning all night. Poor sleep hygiene can even leave you lethargic and unproductive on a daily basis if you don't start learning new habits now.

Basic Sleep Hygiene Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

Almost nobody has a perfect sleep schedule, or bedtime routine. If you fall into the majority of people who struggle with getting quality rest each night, don't beat yourself up over it. Instead, take a look at the most common sleep hygiene mistakes people make, and figure out which of these bad habits you can change for the better in your own life.

The Problem: Late Night Light Exposure

As wonderful as technology is, some aspects of it are preventing us from getting good sleep at night. Over tens of thousands of years, the human body evolved to relax in the evening when the sun went down and light was low. But now we have our fancy electronics like smartphones, computers, and HDTVs that bombard us with light well into the late evening and early morning hours. This can disrupt the melatonin balance in your system, leading to insomnia and poor quality sleep.

The solution: Getting as many of your electronics out of the bedroom as possible is a great start. You should also make sure to stop exposing yourself to electronic light (by, for example, reading a book before bed) earlier in the evening. You can even purchase a good sleep mask for an added benefit.

The Problem: Lack of Activity During the Day

Whether it's commuting to work in your car, sitting at a desk job for one-third of your day, or relaxing in front of the TV at night, most people don't get enough mental or physical stimulation during the day to make them feel sufficiently tired at night. But there are some great and easy ways to remedy such problems.

The Solution: Working out regularly is a great first step - even something as simple as taking a 20-minute stroll within a few hours of your bedtime can help ease you into a sounder sleep. And the book suggestion we brought up earlier is a great way to exercise your mind, too.

The Problem: Maintaining a Sleep Friendly Diet

A "sleep-friendly" diet is not just about eating and drinking the right foods, but also about when. Foods high in fat, sugar, processed carbs, and even spicy foods should be reserved for daytime hours; otherwise, they could boost your energy (or give you a tummy ache) when you'd otherwise be sleeping. Caffeinated beverages should be reserved for earlier in the day, too. The drug's stimulant effects last for hours, and could keep you up at night if you aren't careful.

The Solution: Once the clock strikes noon (depending on your regular bedtime), keep the caffeine and the aforementioned foods out of your diet. Veggies, complex carbs, and protein are all good for evening meals.

You're Taking the Wrong Sleep Aid

Believe it or not, most sleeping pills (whether prescription or otherwise) do more harm than good when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. They may make you feel sleepy, and you may remember falling asleep, but that doesn't mean you're getting the restorative REM sleep you need for a productive day the next morning. In fact, some people claim to sleepwalk and do other wakeful activities despite taking a prescription sleeping pill. Additionally, although they claim otherwise, most over the counter sleeping pills do leave you feeling groggy and lethargic the next day. Lastly, whether prescription or over-the-counter, many sleep medications are habit forming in one way or another.

The Solution: seek help from mother nature. There are plenty of natural, safe, herbal remedies - like melatonin, valerian root, or passion flower, to name a few - that can help you relax at night. They aren't habit-forming, they don't leave you feeling groggy the next day, and you're much more likely to get the restorative sleep you need. Even if you think your sleep problems are serious enough to merit a strong chemical solution, do yourself a favor and try an herbal sleep remedy first. Who knows - you may not need any strong, pharmaceutical sleeping pills after all!

To learn more about sleep-related health issues, feel free to browse around the site. And be sure to keep checking back for updates!

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