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Austin YMCA: How can you get better sleep?

Sleep is important to all of us, and when we are not getting enough it can affect our daily function.

Most of us don't get enough sleep. Here is something you can do to improve your bedtime habits and feel better.

Keep exercising: Try not to do it within four hours of bedtime. Did you know that exercise increases your body temperature, which triggers the shutdown of your sleep hormone melatonin? Overtraining can also affect your sleep pattern. Many of us think that if you work out frequently and for longer times that you sleep better. However, it can have the opposite effect.

Aim for 7 to 9 hours:That is what the body needs to go through for the restorative phases of sleep.

Stick to a schedule:Giveyour body clock an established routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. A set body clock can also help you handle those times when your sleep does get disrupted.


Embrace the dark: Darkness stimulates melatonin production. That means that when you go to bed, it's lights out. We used to have a TV in our room, and we found that we stayed up later, and I had a harder time going to sleep, with the TV there.

Stay cool:The recommendation is to keep your bedroom between 65 and 75 degrees. At my house, it's 60, I find that the cooler it is, the better I sleep. That initial climb into bed is cold, but once I'm warm, I sleep well. If it's warm your body will think it's time to wake up.

Manage caffeine:You don't have to sacrifice the performance benefits of caffeine, however you need to cut it off by 2 p.m. Did you know that caffeine can stay in your body for up to 10 hours after you drink it? I know personally that when I have had caffeine too late in the day; I have difficulty sleeping at night. The recommendation for intake is less than 250 milligrams a day.

Three hours before bed, stop drinking alcohol: Alcohol initially makes you drowsy, but according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it keeps you in the lightest stages of sleep, preventing you from getting the restorative benefits from the other phases. Did you know that it takes 2 to 3 hours to get the amount of alcohol in one drink out of your system?

Daytime nap:A daytime nap can help you catch up on sleep. If you take that nap, keep it under 30 minutes.

Check your meds:Some medications can interfere with your sleep. Contact your doctor to see if they are affecting your sleep.

Kristi Stasi is fitness director of the Austin YMCA.

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