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If You Don't Snooze, You Lose…a Lot

If You Don't Snooze, You Lose…a Lot

When Al Pacino lands in the town of Nightmute, Alaska, in the 2002 thriller Insomnia, he’s bone weary even before the never-setting summer sun wreaks havoc on his ability to rest. And the less he sleeps, the more mistakes the off-the-rails detective makes.

For 73 million Americans that spiral of sleep deprivation, stress, irritability, bewildering missteps and insomnia is far too familiar. According to a CDC report, fully 30 percent of US adults don’t get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, putting themselves at risk for everything from depression to weight gain, diabetes and memory problems. That’s why it’s so important to know the ABCs of getting restful sleep.

First, discover what keeps you awake.

Stress and worries?
Try keeping a worry diary; write in it every morning to purge anxiety (don’t do it at bedtime). We also recommend walking 10,000 steps a day and getting in two to three strength-building workouts a week—great stress-busters and they make you physically tired.

Chronic pain?
See a doc to get diagnosis and treatment.

Obesity?
Excess weight can fuel inflammation and pain. Losing weight promotes better sleep and eases sleep-busting sleep apnea for some.

Then adopt a good sleep routine.

  • Stick to a regular bedtime—seven days a week.
  • Keep the room at 68 to 70 degrees, no warmer.
  • Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Turn off all lights (no digital devices or TVs in the bedroom) except for red nightlights. Beds are for two things and one of them is sleeping!

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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