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Infographic: Your daily countdown to sleep 

"A" icon to represent Aetna By Aetna

Getting enough rest is extremely important to health and wellbeing. Adults who average fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night are more likely to come down with a cold than those getting the recommended 7 hours. For children and teens, sleep is essential to proper growth and development.

There are lots of things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. "Choices that you make throughout the day do matter," says Hyong Un, MD, chief psychiatric officer for Aetna Behavioral Health. Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to help you get back on track.

If you’re feeling worn out and cranky during the day, you may need more sleep. But a little troubleshooting throughout the day can help you feel a whole lot better.

  • 7 am: Resist hitting the snooze button. Restarting your sleep cycle will leave you feeling groggier.
  • 9 am: Enjoy that cup of coffee in the morning—as long as you pair it with a nutritious, low-sugar breakfast to keep up your energy after the caffeine wears off.
  • 12 pm: At lunch, avoid foods that are processed or high in sugar.
  • 4 pm: Late-afternoon energy dip? Instead of coffee, have a high protein snack: a handful of nuts, plain yogurt, jerky or a hard-boiled egg.
  • 6 pm: Get active. The post-exercise drop in body temperature can help you fall asleep later. If you have insomnia, finish up your workout 3 hours before bedtime.
  • 7 pm: Skip the wine at dinner or keep it to one glass. While alcohol makes you sleepy, it also interferes with your sleep cycle—so you might find yourself wide awake before morning.
  • 8 pm: Avoid heavy meals before bedtime. A big dinner can make you drowsy, but it can also lower the quality of your sleep.
  • 9 pm: Dim the lights and limit electronic devices. Artificial lights can confuse your internal clock.
  • 10 pm: Bedtime!
    • Keep the room between 60 and 67 degrees, the optimal temperature for shut-eye.
    • Stay away from agitating or upsetting TV shows, social feeds or even books. They can make it hard for you to relax.

Tips for a restful sleep

  • Just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can improve your sleep quality.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual: Taking a warm bath or reading (not on a screen) can make it easier to fall asleep.
  • During the day, try to eat at regular intervals to keep your internal clock on track.

Sources: Sleep Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, 2017.

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