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FOX Medical Team

5 steps to better sleep

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ATLANTA -

You are exhausted, so you decide to hit the sack. As time slowly ticks by, you realize you can't fall sleep.

We never realize how much we need sleep until we can't get enough of it. If you woke up tired this morning, or you're having trouble turning off your thoughts at night, there are some simple things you can do that might help.

Psychologist and author Michael Breus has a plan, and he says five steps can get your sleep back on track. First, keep one sleep schedule.

"Believe it or not your body clock needs that consistency.  So, go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends," said Breus
   
Many of us love our coffee. In the morning, it's a good thing. But if you want to sleep better, cut the caffeine after 2 pm.

"Because most people don't know caffeine has a half-life of between eight and ten hours. So, it can still affect your body's ability to fall asleep.  So, if you stop by two, enough of it will be out of your system. So you should fall asleep," said Breus.

If you enjoy a drink or two in the evening, that's fine, but Breus says stop drinking about three hours before bedtime. The alcohol can keep you out of the deepest stage of sleep.

"Which is that refreshing, wake up and feel awesome sleep, and you don't want that, you don't want to not get that just because you had a couple of drinks too close to bedtime," Breus said.

The easiest fix for poor sleep is to get some exercise. There is a catch -- working out leaves some of us too energized. Breus says stop exercise about four hours before lights out.

The best way to wake up you brain is to step outside into the sun. That helps reset your body's sleep clock. So, get some morning sunlight.

"Go for a walk, go pick up your paper in the morning, or get your mail in the morning instead of the evening. Take your family pet for a walk. Or just go for a quick stroll, have your breakfast outside if it's warm enough to do so. Get that sunlight in there and you're actually going to have a much better time sleeping at night," advised Breus.

How much sleep do you need? That's different for each of us. Breus recommends 7.5 hours of sleep. If you wake up before your alarm, you're getting enough. If your alarm wakes you, you may need to go to bed a little earlier.

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