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Smart Tips for Better Sleep

I’m a lifelong insomniac. Even with a strict “no screens” policy for hours before bedtime, blacked-out windows and a very expensive mattress, I rarely get to sleep without the help of a pill. Luckily, most people don’t have my problem - but that doesn’t mean they’re well rested.

In the US today, there’s an epidemic of people who aren’t getting enough quality sleep, and it’s not just due to what they do between the sheets. If you’ve ever wanted to be the kind of person who has limitless energy and is never accused of “looking tired,” you need to be prepared to make some serious changes to your daytime routine, too. Good sleep habits require fashioning a routine that promotes energy during the day and sleepiness at night - which means learning to live without the snooze button, cutting off your caffeine intake in the afternoon and maybe even changing what you eat for breakfast. Here is your prescription for better sleep: 

Don’t hit the snooze button.

No matter how tempting it may be, resist the urge to snooze. It will make you feel more tired throughout the day. Sleep after the alarm sounds is disrupted sleep, not good quality sleep. If you constantly find yourself hitting snooze, set your alarm for a later time and truly enjoy the last minutes of your sleep.

Don’t have simple carbs for breakfast.

A portable, sugary pastry or a bowl of cereal may be convenient and delicious, but it’s not the fuel your body needs to keep on going throughout the day. Simple carbs offer a quick high followed by a quick crash that will leave you feeling fatigued. Instead, choose a high-protein, low-sugar breakfast like scrambled eggs with spinach.

Don’t drink coffee after lunch.

If you find yourself reaching for a cup of coffee to get through your afternoon slump, you’re simply perpetuating a vicious cycle. Yesterday afternoon’s caffeine is at least partly to blame for today’s lag, since caffeine consumed late in the day can lead to disrupted sleep at night. Experts suggest avoiding caffeine for at least six hours before bed, although some people metabolize caffeine differently (me included - one can of soda can keep my wired for hours) and need more time between caffeinated drinks and bedtime. Ditching the afternoon coffee will help you sleep better and, once you’ve overcome some initial withdrawal, also keep your mid-afternoon fatigue at bay. 

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