Bedtime routines for a good night's sleep -

Bedtime routines for a good night's sleep

Sleep: It's something many of us long for, but don't seem to get enough of.

"People said they would rather have sleep than sexual activity, a great meal or even finding fifty bucks," says Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep expert.

Why is it so hard for so many to get enough shuteye?

"When you lie in bed, it's the first time you've had all day with your thoughts, and so they come flooding in and it's really hard to turn off your mind," Dr. Breus explains.

He wrote the best-selling book, The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan, to help people understand how sleep can affect your weight.

"The better quality and quantity of sleep, the easier it is to lose those pounds," he explains. "There's a direct relationship that's now been discovered."

So how much sleep should you get?

Dr. Breus says there's no real magic number, but at least 7 1/2 hours is ideal.

He also points out there are things you shouldn't even dream of doing if you want to get a good night's rest -- drinking alcohol less than three hours before you call it a night can get in the way of the deep stages of sleep. 

It may seem extreme, but he says you should stop all caffeine at 2:00 PM because it stimulates your brain.

"Never go to bed hungry, but also you should never eat within two to three hours of lights out," he adds.

If you have to have a snack, Dr. Breus recommends cheese and crackers, because it has protein.

"Some people, if they exercise, they're kind of revved up so I ask them not to exercise approximately four hours before bed," he adds.

The doctor suggests investing in a good mattress every five to seven years, get a new pillow every year, and try to stick to a bedtime ritual -- even on the weekends. 

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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