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Americans now get about 25 percent less sleep than they did a century ago. This isn’t just a matter of fatigue, it causes serious damage to your body.
Sleep deprivation can alter your levels of thyroid and stress hormones, which play a part in everything from your memory and immune system to your heart and metabolism. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to:
- Weight gain
- High blood sugar levels and an increased risk of diabetes
- Brain damage
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to get the sleep your body craves. Here are 10 to start with (and the link below has 14 more):
1. Sprinkle just-washed sheets and pillowcases with lavender water, and then iron them before making your bed. The scent is proven to promote relaxation.
2. Hide your clock, so that its glow won’t disturb you and make sure there is no light coming from other sources including your windows as this will seriously impair your body’s ability to produce melatonin.
3. Choose the right pillow — neck pillows, which resemble a rectangle with a depression in the middle, can enhance the quality of your sleep and reduce neck pain.
4. Paint your bedroom sage green, or another soothing color, which will provide a visual reminder of sleep.
5. Move your bed away from outside walls, which will help cut down on noise.
6. Kick your dog or cat out of your bedroom — studies have shown that they snore!
7. Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime; it increases your core body temperature, and when it abruptly drops when you get out of the bath, it signals your body that you are ready for sleep.
8. Keep a notepad at your bedside — if you wake in the middle of the night with your mind going, you can transfer your to-do list to the page and return to sleep unworried.
9. Put heavier curtains over your windows –– even the barely noticeable light from streetlights, a full moon, or your neighbor’s house can interfere with the circadian rhythm changes you need to fall asleep.
10. Eat a handful of walnuts before bed — they’re a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid.