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6 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

If you lack sleep in your life, try these methods for help

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    Upgrade Your Bedroom

    En español | Buy fresh pillows, replace a worn-out mattress and kick the TV out of the room you sleep in.

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    Gone in 60 Seconds

    A breathing exercise touted by holistic doc Andrew Weil promises to knock you out in a minute. The “4-7-8” technique is derived from yoga: Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale forcefully for eight. Repeat thrice and say good night. With practice, Weil says, you can induce an altered state of consciousness.

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    Lay Off the Lights

    Turning on a lamp (or futzing with your smartphone) when you wake in the middle of the night can reset your internal clock, warns sleep expert Charles Czeisler: You might wake up at the same time the next night.

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    Embrace the Dark Side

    Insomniacs often report that their symptoms disappear during blackouts and camping trips. To mimic the inky blackness of the preindustrial night, aficionados of “paleo sleep” go full caveman in their evening routine — no artificial lighting whatsoever. A long dusk is your brain’s cue to pump up the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

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    Set a Schedule

    Experts recommend avoiding the temptation to sleep in (or stay up) on the weekend; instead, try to maintain the same sleep-wake pattern all week.

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    Go for 2

    Psychiatrist Thomas Wehr placed volunteers in darkness for 14 hours for a 1992 study and found that they settled into a two-stage sleep cycle, with a mellow period of wakefulness in the middle. This segmented, or biphasic, sleep probably persisted for millennia: Modern segmented sleepers tout its stress-reduction benefits (and bonus opportunity for snuggling).

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    More on Falling Asleep

    Now that you've learned how to fall asleep faster, read about How sleep deprivation disrupts your body clock.

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