Getting a good night's sleep is possible in a non-stop world - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Getting a good night's sleep is possible in a non-stop world

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Getting good rest can be a challenge in our non-stop world so we turn to a sleep expert for tips on reaching a truly restful state.

Sleep is an important part of your everyday life and there are a number of things you can do to catch some quality z's.

Dr. Susan Harding with the UAB Sleep Center says it's critical you carve out enough time to rest.

"Structure your life so that you have potentially eight hours of sleep time," Harding said.

Eight hours of sleep per night should be the target, but according to Dr. Harding the optimum number of hours will vary from person to person. It helps to keep a consistent sleep and wake up time, even on weekends, to avoid that jet lag feeling.

"So that your natural rhythm is stabilized. So that it's not erratic. So that it's not like going to Hawaii or Europe every week," Harding said.

Where you sleep is as important as when you sleep. Harding says your room should be dark, quiet, cool and have a comfortable bed. But before you call it a night you should prep your mind and body.

"You don't want to do super active activities such as think about a budget or bills or something like that. You want to tone it down you want to relax," she said.

One common issue Harding sees in her patients is distraction from electronic devices in the bedroom. She recommends keeping them out of the bedroom all together. She says messages and emails can trigger stress and make you more alert. Another potential problem is the blue light that gadgets emit. Harding says it could get in the way of dozing off.

"Avoid the blue light which can cause alertness and depress melatonin secretion which helps us sleep," she said.

If you do choose to read before falling asleep, Harding recommends using a yellow light. If you use an e-reader, she recommends wearing a pair of blue light blockers.

Other things to avoid are eating a large meal right befor bed, which could cause acid reflux. She also recommends staying away from caffeinated drinks after lunch and smoking in the evening, which are both stimulants and can interrupt your sleep pattern.

One common misconception is that drinking of glass of wine will help you sleep. Harding says even though alcohol can make you drowsy, throwing back a drink before bed will also disrupt your sleep.

If you're thirsty before bed, she recommends drinking or eating food with tryptophan in it, such as like milk and yogurt. She also says twenty minutes of daily exercise will promote quality sleep.

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