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You’ve savored a summer of relaxing vacations and reduced commitments at home. To feel at your best until your next vacation, make sure you don’t miss out on a good night’s sleep.
“When you’re sleep deprived, you’re at an increased risk for accidents, and you don’t perform as well at work,” says Jeff Taylor, M.D., a pulmonologist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Plano. “Being well-rested helps you concentrate better, make better decisions and enjoy the day because you’re less irritable.”
Here are some ways to help make sure you get the sleep you need:
1. Determine your sleep needs. “While eight hours a night is a good standard, we’re all different, so you should figure out what you personally need to feel your best,” Dr. Taylor says.
Every night for a week, go to bed when you feel tired and don’t set an alarm. Let yourself wake up naturally. Because the first few days might include playing a little catch-up, make sure you continue for the full week to get the best estimate.
2. Don’t stray on the weekends. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Even on the weekends, don’t stray too far from your regular schedule, Dr. Taylor suggests.
3. Check your room. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. “That means it’s cool, quiet and comfortable,” Dr. Taylor says.
4. Find a relaxing bedtime routine. Try reading or listening to soothing music before bed to help you relax. To ease yourself into a restful sleep, stay away from television and off the computer for at least an hour before your bedtime, Dr. Taylor suggests. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime, and if you’re reaching for an evening cup of tea, make it decaf.
5. Exercise early. “Try to get your workout in at least three hours before bedtime,” Dr. Taylor says. This will help your adrenaline levels and body temperature return to normal before you go to sleep.
6. Keep responsibilities in check. When you take on more than you can handle in normal waking hours, you’re setting yourself up for poor sleep — not to mention unhealthy stress. Make sure you only commit to things you have time for.
If you’re struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, you may have a sleep disorder. Take our sleep quiz to see what your symptoms might signal.
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