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Sleepless in Picayune

Published 9:19am Friday, July 18, 2014

It’s dark out in the middle of the night and you’re still up pacing the halls of your quiet house while everyone else is asleep soundly in their beds. Right now, it must seem like you’re the only person in the world who isn’t getting any shut-eye.

Fret not, you are not alone.

There are many people who struggle with getting a good night’s rest.

Information from the National Sleep Foundation indicates that between 20 and 40 percent of the U.S. population experiences insomnia. Those who suffer from insomnia often have family histories of the condition or may also be experiencing depression.

Although it varies from case to case, adults should receive seven to eight hours of sleep on average per night to feel rested.

To receive a better night’s sleep, the National Sleep Foundation suggests:

• Exercise can help promote better sleep habits. A workout will tire you out, increase feel-good endorphins throughout the body and raise body temperature. Aim to complete a workout two to three hours before planning on going to sleep so your body is not still amped up when your head hits the pillow.

• Establish a regular sleep schedule. Humans are creatures of routine, and training the body to recognize when it is time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep can make it easier to enjoy a good night’s rest.

• Avoid heavy meals and caffeine and nicotine before bed. Each of these things can rev the body up and make it difficult to settle down.

• Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.

• Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading.

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