Sweet Dreams

More than one-third of us don't get enough sleep, which can lead to weight gain and depression. Dr. Sheila Tsai, Section Head for Sleep Medicine at National Jewish Health, offers these tips.

Comfortable pillows stacked high.
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Caffeinate early

Finish with caffeine at least six hours before you plan to hit the hay (in a perfect world, you would stop drinking it by noon). “Even if you’re one of those people who can drink caffeine and fall right to sleep, that caffeine can still disrupt your night because it hangs out for four to six hours.”

Enjoy the morning light

“Exposure to bright light, particularly in the morning, helps regulate your internal clock.”

Bore yourself

“If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something super boring, like reading a journal, in dim light. Don’t get on your iPad; read something on paper with the light shining from the back of your head to the page. What we don’t want is people spending a lot of time in bed awake, because your brain will start to associate your bed as a place you don’t sleep.”

Get seven to sight hours

That’s the amount of sleep we need. “If it takes you a long time to fall asleep, get into bed earlier than that seven- or eight-hour mark,” Tsai says. Go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, too.

Don’t watch TV or get on your phone in bed, period

“Studies have proven the light on phones and TVs decreases the amount of sleep we get. It’s fine if you have a TV in your bedroom, but really try not to watch it before you go to sleep.” Tsai also recommends not using electronics at least an hour before bed.

Keep your room dark, quiet, and cool

“If the moonlight continues to wake you up (or if you don’t work a typical nine-to-five job), consider blackout curtains.”

Snack smart

“It’s okay to have a light snack—nothing more than a small bowl of cereal—half an hour to an hour before bed (at least).”