The Reason Why You Can't Sleep at Night

April Daniels Hussar, SELF magazine

Do you have a love-hate relationship with the Sandman? If you're like a lot of people, you aren't always getting a full night of sweet beauty sleep -- a new National Sleep Foundation poll shows that about 41 percent of people report problems with tossing and turning at least a few nights a week.

So what's keeping you up with the moon and the stars? It just might be your bedroom! According to the poll results, bedroom environment is critical to the quality of your sleep. "Your bedroom is your sleep sanctuary," Joseph M. Ojile, MD, board member of the National Sleep Foundation and founder and CEO of Clayton Sleep Institute in St Louis, MO, tells HealthySELF.
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Based on the poll results, here are five ways to make sure your bedroom lulls you to sleep at night:

Invest in a comfy mattress and pillows (and good sheets)
. About nine out of 10 people polled rate having a comfortable mattress and pillows (91 percent) as important to getting a good night's sleep, followed closely by comfortable sheets (86 percent). "The important thing is to find bedding that's comfortable for you," says Dr. Ojile.

Be quiet.
(74 percent). "A noisy and cluttered environment can make it difficult for most people to sleep," says Dr. Ojile.

Turn off the lights.
(73 percent). "Light is highly stimulating, so there needs to be way for the room to be dark, for most people," says Dr. Ojile, adding that sometimes function is more important than form when it comes to window coverings, especially if you live somewhere like a brightly lit city street. "Bright lights from clocks or night lights can also be a significant issue," he says.

Cool it down.
(67 percent). "Heat tends to be stimulating or awakening; coolness tends to make you sleepy," says Dr. Ojile. "We're not talking ice-box, but cooler!"

Clean up.
(62 percent). More than half of the poll respondents cite a clean bedroom as being an important factor in getting a good night's sleep. Interestingly, more than three-fourths (76 percent) say they make their bed at least a few days a week and more than one-half (56 percent) say they make their beds every day or almost every day. Seventy-eight percent report feeling more excited about going to bed when they have clean sheets.

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Another factor that Dr. Ojile brings up is technology, from desktop computers to iPhones and BlackBerries. "Get technology out of the bedroom! It's extremely disruptive," he says -- from the bright light of the screen to the cognitive distraction of wanting to reply to emails or texts. Got that? Out!

And finally -- another big no-no? "Animals in the bedroom," says Dr. Ojile. You might love to sleep with your pets, but be honest about whether they're disrupting your sleep or not.

As you probably know, it's important to get good sleep on a regular basis, otherwise your health -- from immediate to longer-term -- can be affected. "The first thing that goes is your cognitive ability," says Dr. Ojile. Getting good sleep is important when it comes to thinking and making good decisions, he says.

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There are more immediate health issues, such as a lowered immune system that can result in colds, infections and even breakouts (they call it beauty sleep for a reason!). And he adds, "Not having adequate sleep as part of your routine will diminish your exercise and athletic performance." Longer term, Dr. Ojile says, "Not getting enough sleep increases your risk for things like heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes."

As the National Sleep Foundation says, "Love your bedroom, and improve a third of your life!"


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