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Adequate sleep is an important asset to a healthy lifestyle; not to mention, integral to successfully completing daily tasks, work. WebMD found that around 20% of Americans get less than 6 hours of sleep each night. If you’re in that 20%, our Hilton Head Health experts shared some strategies to help you get more, restful shut-eye.

The best technique to quiet your mind and your body is called progressive relaxation, says Bob Wright, H3 Director of Education.

Stress is usually a culprit when you’re in bed but can’t get to sleep. Your mind’s racing a mile a minute and you’re thinking about all the things on your to-do list.

    • Start with a few minutes of deep, slow breathing. It helps if you visualize a relaxing scene, or repeat a relaxing word
    • Then starting with your toes,  moving to your feet, you slowly, alternate tensing then relaxing each muscle group all the way up your body.

The combination of concentrating on breathing deeply and focusing on your muscles, distracts you from those stressful thoughts, along with the physical relaxation that results from this techniques creates the perfect environment for drifting off to sleep. If you don’t fall asleep with  10 -15 minutes, don’t stress over it.

    • Get up, go to another room, sit in a comfortable chair and read for 15 or so minutes, go back to bed and try it again.

Chris Varano, H3 Fitness Specialist suggests these 3 tips to promote quality sleep filled nights:

    • Keep your bedroom for sleeping, not for TV watching, roaming the Internet or a workstation.
    • Turn off phones, tablets, and other electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime to limit the number of distractions around you.
    • Avoid eating right before bedtime. It’s ideal to have three to four hours of digestion before you try to go to sleep.

These tips from John Lippitt, Hilton Head Health’s Fitness Specialist can help you start a healthy sleep regimen:

    • Don’t work out right before bed.

An intense workout late in the evening may keep you awake longer because of the adrenaline, testosterone, and increase in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight).

    • Exercise at the same time every day.

Getting into a routine of working out at the same time daily will help your body to follow a routine and a healthier sleep cycle as well.

    • Try light stretching or yoga before bed. These 3 yoga poses can help you get ready for bed:
        • Child’s pose
        • Forward Fold
        • Legs up the wall.

The focus on breathing will help to calm your body down, clear your head of the “monkey chatter”, and prepare you for a restful sleep.

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