5 easy ways to improve your sleep (without sleeping longer)

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5 easy ways to improve your sleep (without sleeping longer)

It's happening again: you lie down for a restful sleep, but you just can't seem to let go of all the stresses, pressures and events of the day.

Thoughts go round and round in your mind, and once you do finally fall asleep you end up waking throughout the night.

All that tossing and turning takes a toll and can leave you feeling exhausted, foggy-headed and drained throughout the day. Although you might feel like you're practicing good sleeping habits, a little fine-tuning might help you fall asleep more easily and feel more rested. Try these 5 tips to improve your sleep and see if they work for you.

Practice relaxing bedtime routines

Working on your computer, playing video games or watching TV may seem like relaxing activities, but they can actually interfere with your ability to fall asleep. The type of light that comes from computer and television screens actually activates the brain, causing you to feel less sleepy and less able to transition from a wakeful to a restful state. Instead of looking at a screen before bed, try a more relaxing bedtime routine that includes calming activities like taking a hot bath, reading a book or drinking soothing, herbal tea.

Enjoy fruity bedtime snacks

Although eating sweets and proteins before bed can inhibit restful sleep, snacking on certain fruits can actually help you get the good night's rest you're searching for. Pineapple contains high levels of melatonin, a hormone in the brain that helps you regulate your sleep. Researchers found that after eating pineapple, the melatonin markers in the brain increased by 266 percent. Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that eating two kiwifruit before bed could reduce mid-sleep wakefulness by 30 percent.

Experts say exercise is a great way to sleep better. GeorgeRudy/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Set a sleep schedule

No matter how unpredictable your ability to fall asleep may sometimes feel, your brain actually wants to be on a regimented sleep schedule. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people only need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Try to put yourself on a schedule by going to bed at the same time every night - and stick to it. If you can't seem to fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and read a book or take a hot bath, then try again when you feel drowsy.

Just say no to nighttime coffee

A cup of joe will wake you up in the morning, but it isn't the right choice in the evening when your mind and body naturally want to start winding down. If you're used to drinking coffee in the afternoon or at night, it could be keeping you from falling asleep. Try switching to herbal tea and avoid drinking anything caffeinated within 6 hours of bedtime.

Exercise daily

Exercise helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression, all of which can keep you from falling asleep easily. If you spend time exercising during the day, it might help you feel more relaxed and at-ease when you're drifting off to sleep.

Looking for more ways to combat insomnia?  Try these 5 fruits that can help you eat your way to sleep.

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