There are plenty of proven ways to improve your sleep, and most of them are pretty simple.
Step 1: Chill the room Turn down the heat or turn up the air-conditioning: Research shows that people sleep best in rooms that are between 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. But wear socks to bed if your feet are chilly; though your core body temperature should be cool, your feet should be toasty.
Step 2: Have a comfortable bed Sleep on a firm, thick mattress, and make sure it stays in good shape by replacing it every 10 years or so. An uncomfortable bed can cost you 42 minutes of sleep per night, according to one sleep expert.
TIP: If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your legs to take stress off your hips and back muscles.
Step 3: Keep it dark Keep your bedroom as dark as possible by installing blackout curtains and covering LED displays on clocks and other devices.
Step 4: Get some exercise Get some exercise every day. Just skip the strenuous stuff three hours before bedtime.
TIP: In one study, older adults who took up the ancient Chinese martial art tai chi reported significant improvements in their sleep quality.
Step 5: Establish a routine Establish a pre-sleep routine; it will prime your body to wind-down. Try to go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time every day -- even on the weekends.
Step 6: Enjoy a bedtime story Settle into bed with a book or magazine about 30 minutes before lights out. Reading relaxes your brain, as opposed to watching TV or using a computer, which are stimulating.
Step 7: Unplug yourself Turn off your cell phone: Results from one study indicate that the radiation emitted from mobile phones may delay and interrupt sleep.
Step 8: See a doctor If nothing helps, make an appointment with a board-certified sleep specialist, who can rule out medical conditions that may be causing your insomnia. Find one at sleepcenters.org.
FACT: Twenty percent of Americans sleep fewer than six hours a night, according to The National Sleep Foundation.