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What's stopping your sleep?


Sleep is about more than catching a few winks. It's about achieving good-quality sleep - the kind that lets your body go to work restoring you physically and mentally.

Angelé J. Arthur, MD, is a sleep medicine physician at Methodist Charlton Medical Center. Here she breaks down a few common sleep stoppers - and what you can do to help.

Screen time

The problem: Light is the most important timekeeper for our bodies. It plays a role in controlling the hormone melatonin, which helps you go to sleep. Darkness helps the hormone level to rise, while light - even from your smartphone or tablet - causes it to fall, making it that much more difficult to settle down and rest.

The solution: Hit the off switch at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime to let your body know it's time to rest.

Nicotine and caffeine

The problem: Both products are stimulating and can cause difficulty with falling asleep. Going a step further, these products increase sleep fragmentation and promote poorer-quality sleep.

The solution: Try limiting caffeinated drinks to before noon, and talk to your doctor about quitting tobacco use.

No sleep schedule

The problem: Your body's circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, calls for regularity. Naps, staggered bedtimes, sleeping in, daylight saving time, and other factors throw off this rhythm.

The solution: Establish regular wake-up times and bedtimes - give or take an hour - even on the weekends. Also, come up with a bedtime routine, whether it's a hot bath or shower, meditation or prayer, or playing calming music, to help your mind and body wind down.

Start making these changes to start experiencing a better night sleep, a small change could make all the difference. If you're still having issues sleeping, contact your physician.

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