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The holidays can be filled with a lot of joy and a lot of stress. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to that stress and may even turn into a serious health ailment, if left untreated. Insomnia is linked to other chronic health conditions, less productivity, and even fatal car crashes. Not sleeping enough is an all too common occurrence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three adults report not sleeping enough in the United States[1]. Below are some steps you can take tonight, to ensure a better night sleep and a healthier you!

Establish an easy bed time routine.

Have you been missing out on bed time routines because you thought they applied only to children? If you are trying to go to sleep earlier, faster, and stay asleep throughout the night, you should try establishing a simple bed-time routine which can help signal your body that it is time to wind-down and relax. Consider the following routine: half an hour before you plan on going to bed turn off televisions, computers, and don’t use your phone. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm and slow down the release of melatonin, a hormone produced by the body to help you sleep[2].  If you are not pregnant, try drinking valerian tea which may help you fall asleep faster. Results may appear after two weeks of drinking the tea regularly. Avoid doing strenuous activities before bedtime and instead try a relaxing activity of your choice. This may range from writing in a gratitude journal or nightly reflections, drawing, meditating, or easy yoga/stretching.

Gradually go to sleep earlier each night until you reach your desired bedtime.

It is important to set reachable sleeping goals. If you are accustomed to staying up past one in the morning, and you decide that tonight you will go to sleep at ten o clock, you are setting yourself up to fail. You may end up tossing and turning in bed, feeling frustrated, and may give up on the idea of getting a better night rest. Instead, aim to go to sleep 20 minutes before the time you went to sleep the previous night. Continue doing this until you reach your desired bed time. Combine this technique with the bed time routine, for maximum efficacy.

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night avoid looking at the clock. Calculating how long you have been awake or how many more minutes of sleep you have left before you must get up in the morning may only contribute to stress and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead do a relaxing activity and when you begin to feel sleepy again, simply go back to bed.

It is normal to not get enough rest occasionally. Consider these tips and have a good night. If the problem, persist contact your physician.

Written by: Blanca Gutierrez, Project Coordinator, Community Clinic Consortium and a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health