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Stress is all around us. One major determinant to how we cope with stress is sleep. It is essential to tolerate the things life brings us. Unfortunately, one in three Americans say they have “sleep problems”.

It is not always the amount of sleep we get that makes us energized, but the quality. Eight hours of sound sleep is better than tossing and turning for 10 hours. To increase the quality of your sleep try to establish a sleep pattern by going to bed at about the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Avoid skimping on sleep during the week and sleeping until noon on weekends.

If you need a nap, 20 minutes is optimal. Anything less isn’t enough and any longer will make you drowsy. Some of our greatest thinkers were “nappers”, including Albert Einstein and Leonardo DiVinci.

On those nights when you are having trouble falling to sleep, don’t watch the clock. Get up and move around. Read or watch something on television that will relax you. Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Don’t watch television, study or do work in bed. You need to associate your bed and your bedroom with sleep. Also, Keep the temperature where you sleep moderate-not too hot or too cold.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, some examples of sleep stealers are: alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, exercising too close to bedtime, irregular sleep schedules, depression, jet lag, a bed partner with sleep problems, medications (side effect), arthritis, pain and hormonal shifts. Most of these problems can be dealt with fairly simply to allow for better rest.

Most people need 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night to function well and feel refreshed, but that requirement can vary from one person to another. To discover how much sleep you really need, go to sleep at the same time every night, then sleep until you wake up. It will take a couple of weeks to determine what you need. Once you’ve figured it out, discipline yourself and set a goal to get the rest you need.

We can’t make all life’s little annoyances disappear, but if we are rested, they won’t seem as pesky. Sweet dreams.