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Your routine may make sleep difficult

Wednesday - 2/22/2012, 9:40am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

Do you find it tough to get to sleep? It could be you own fault. Lots of common routines make sleep more difficult.

Yahoo Health debunks a number of "Sleep Myths," including the the belief that TV and alcohol are relaxing before bed.

The boob tube and booze in fact can fight efforts to get a good night's rest.

Being exposed to light within an hour or so before bedtime can prevent your brain from producing the sleep hormone melatonin, even if the light is from a source as dim as a TV, computer or reading lamp.

Exciting TV shows and books also can get you revved up instead of slowed down.

While alcohol can help you fall asleep, it disrupts restful sleep patterns and REM - Rapid Eye Movement cycles. It also can cause you to wake up later in the night when your body produces cortisol to counter dropping blood sugar levels.

Tips for getting a good nights sleep from HelpGuide.org include exercising, setting a regular bedtime, avoiding alcohol, cutting back on caffeine and turning off the computer and TV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than one in four Americans reports occasionally not getting enough sleep.

Getting too little sleep has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression, according to the CDC.

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)