Six steps to get a better night's sleep

What does nearly every one of us have in common? We don't get enough sleep.

Sometimes it's due to a sleep disorder, although more often it's due to bad habits.

To help you make the most of your night, I put together a list of six ways to a better night's sleep:

1 - Evaluate your mattress

You should consider buying a new mattress, if:

  • Your mattress is 5-7 years old
  • Your mattress appears saggy or lumpy
  • You wake up achy
  • You tend to sleep better at hotels than home

Use this mattress buying guide from Consumer Reports to help find a new one.

2 - No alcohol four hours before bedtime

"Alcohol may give people the perception that they're sleepy or falling asleep easier," explains Dr. Chad Hagen, head of OHSU's sleep lab. "That actually makes the sleep more shallow. It can worsen muscle tone and some of the breathing problems that are real common."

3 - Power down

Give yourself an electronics-free hour before bed - no television, no computer and no cell phone.
The light from digital screens stimulates brain activity and suppresses melatonin production, making your body think it's daytime.

4 - Block other light

Make your bedroom like a cave. Consider black-out blinds, shades or heavy curtains. And turn your bright clock away from your bed.

7 - Turn down the thermostat

Your ideal sleeping temperature is between 64 to 68-degrees, especially for menopausal women having trouble sleeping.

"A temperature change from a warm bath or shower to a cold sleeping environment can help induce sleep but maintaining a nice, cool environment through the night can help sleep quality," says Hagen.

6 - Get a pet bed

More than half of dog owners and 62% of cat owners let their animals share their bed, disrupting their sleep. So tell Rover to roll over so you can reclaim your turf!

Hagen also recommends sleeping the same number of hours at the same time, everyday - even on the weekends. Eight hours is optimal.