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This article is designated to explain how better sleep is linked to better health. A couple of health factors for lack of sleep are increased stress, decreased effectiveness of your immune system, inhibits the production of growth hormone, and a decrease in brain function. Growth hormone is used for the recovery and growth of cells while your brain function affects elements such as memory and communication skills. More than half of America cannot climb into bed and go straight to sleep.

Here is how the normal sleep cycle works! There are five full sleep cycles of 90 minutes each in which your body will go through. This equates to 7.5 hours of sleep compared to the commonly suggested 8 hours of sleep. It is said that toward the end of these 90-minute cycles is where the brain gets the benefits. If you are always being interrupted before 90 minutes for things such as going to the bathroom, pain, or heartburn, you are not restoring your brain properly. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you plan and prepare yourself for a good night of sleep.

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Physical Activity. A physically strong body will make you feel mentally strong. It provides stress relief and will even induce sleep.

Water. Don't drink water after 6 p.m. to reduce the urge for you having to roll out of bed to use the bathroom. Caffeine should not be consumed after 2 p.m. because it can stay in your system for up to 12 hours. It is also a diuretic.

Environment. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only. Leave computers, television, and pictures of your family and kids out of the bedroom. Turn up the air conditioner also because it is much easier to sleep in a cool environment than it being hot. Dim your lights in your house several hours before heading to bed also if possible. Have no distractions.

Plan for Sleep. Set an alarm clock to tell you to get ready for bed. A lot of the time we are so tied up with doing chores, watching television, or playing on the computer that we lose track of time. So if you need to wake up at 7:30 am then set your alarm clock for 11:30 pm. This gives you a half hour window to get ready for bed and fall into your 7.5 hours of sleep. You can practice evening rituals such as meditation, prayer, and deep breathing exercises to help you wind down. We need to practice "falling" to sleep rather than "going" to sleep.

Developing great sleep habits will reflect well on your everyday life. Sleep well!