70% of American Adults get insufficient sleep at least once a month, while 11% of Americans get insufficient sleep every night.

Health experts are calling sleep deprivation a new epidemic, and it’s no wonder.

Between work, family and paying the bills in our 24/7 world, there’s a lot to keep us up at night.

But before reaching for over-the-counter sleep aids with unpredictable side effects, why not consider these tips for a good night’s sleep the natural way.

Experts say they’re just as effective.

1. Wind Down and Relax

Sleep is more of a journey than a destination — it starts hours before bedtime when hormonal changes signal the body that it’s time to relax. If you have a tough time winding down in the evening, taking a warm bath or listening to guided meditation works with your biology to ease you toward a peaceful slumber.

2. Exercise Early

Evening workouts can leave you feeling too energized to sleep — but moderate aerobic exercise early in the day enhances the slow wave sleep that helps you wake up feeling rejuvenated. Also known as deep or delta wave sleep, slow wave slumber occurs just before the REM cycle, and for optimal rest, it should make up about 25-percent of your total hours of sleep.

3. Avoid Stimulants Before Bedtime

Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine affect your sleep by keeping you up later than usual and reducing total sleep time. Used consistently, they also disrupt your body’s sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep — even when you pass on espresso with your evening dessert.

4. Learn How to Sleep Without Alcohol

If you want to improve your sleep quality, pass on the nightcap. Drinking alcohol may feel like it helps you relax, but it plays havoc with sleep cycles, and the result is less refreshing sleep no matter how many hours per night you get.

5. Enjoy More Daylight

Your body’s circadian rhythm is controlled by light. When the sun rises, your brain produces hormones that promote wakefulness, and when it sets, similar chemicals signal it’s time to rest.

Not getting enough hours of daylight confuses your brain and scrambles hormonal cycles, upsetting the delicate day-night balance. Working with your circadian rhythm by increasing light exposure during the day helps you be naturally primed for sleep when it’s time to go to bed.

person yawning in bed with alarm clock

6. Reduce Blue Light

Blue light from LED and fluorescent light bulbs suppresses the production of melatonin — the hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. In addition to harsh overhead lights, the most common blue light-emitting devices are electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and computers. For your best sleep, decrease exposure to blue light as much as possible after 6 PM.

7. Create a Bedroom Oasis

It’s tough to relax amid too many distractions, so carving out a tranquil space that enhances sleep is essential. Decorate it with soothing earth tones and comfortable fabrics, keeping distractions to a minimum. Play some soft music or read a book to help you relax, but make it a TV-free zone.

8. Eat Light at Night

The body works overtime to digest large meals, leaving you feeling restless when you should be winding down. Nutrition experts suggest eating the bulk of your calories at breakfast and lunch. Plan in advance for a light dinner that includes complex carbohydrates — it’s a sleep-inducing combination.

9. Leave the Napping to the Cat

According to the Mayo Clinic, naps longer than 10-20 minutes can ruin your night, and what’s worse, leave you feeling groggy. If daytime sleepiness is a persistent problem, it could be a sign of sleep apnea — contact your doctor about a sleep study. But in most circumstances, a brisk walk is a more invigorating choice than a nap, and it won’t interfere with your bedtime.

10. Play it Cool

It’s no mistake that humans feel sleepy when evening temperatures dip — we’re programmed to prefer a cooler sleep environment. Research suggests that the ideal bedroom temperature for adults is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Being too hot or too cold causes frequent waking and impacts REM sleep, so climate control is a must.

11. Sleep on a Comfortable Bed

As many as two-thirds of Americans are unhappy with their mattress, so if you’re tossing and turning all night because of an uncomfortable bed, you’re not alone. Why sleep on a mattress that’s seen better days? From traditional innerspring models to bed-in-a-box styles, there are top-quality beds available for every budget and preference.

Final Thoughts

Getting a good night’s rest should be a top priority for your health, and the good news is — there so many ways to do it naturally. Start with a comfortable new mattress for immediate relief and then practice these tips for sound, natural sleep. They’re just what the doctor ordered.