12 healthy habits to get a better night's sleep

The endless opportunities that technology offers come with an unexpected side effect: There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get things done and rest, too.

And our bodies might be suffering for it.

Whether it is because we’re staying up late watching the latest show or lying awake in bed, unable to sleep, about 20% of Americans are sleep deprived, experts estimate.

Rather than suffer through the day feeling groggy, here are 12 science-backed habits that can help you get a good night’s sleep — tonight.

Avoid 'social jet-lag' by keeping consistent sleeping hours.

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As much fun as sleeping in on the weekends is, it's not doing your body any favours. You can blame something called 'social jet-lag.'

Unlike regular old jet-lag, this one only happens when our body clocks get thrown off by the gap between our weekend and weekday sleep schedules. You can avoid it by waking up at the same time each day.

Exercise regularly.

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The relationship between sleep and exercise is a little complicated. A small study of women with insomnia found a connection between better sleep and exercise: The better night's sleep you get, the more likely you'll work out. But it's a beneficial cycle: The study found that four months down the road of exercising consistently, the women were sleeping at least 45 minutes more a night.

Sleep well. Work out well. Repeat.

Eat a diverse diet.

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In an analysis of the 2007-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that the amount of time people slept was linked to the types of foods they ate. And 'normal sleepers' (those who got 7-8 hours of shut-eye each night) tended to eat a more diverse diet.

Obviously, the researchers can't say whether spicing up your plate will necessarily help you sleep, but it likely won't do any harm!

Stay away from caffeine starting 6 hours before bed.

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Caffeine is one of the best ways to get an energy boost in the morning, but if you consume it too close to bed, it could cause some sleep problems.

In a small study of 12 healthy normal sleepers who took caffeine pills 0, 3, or 6 hours before bed. They found that the participants had the best nights of sleep if they didn't have caffeine within at least 6 hours of sleeping. Big surprise.

Cuddle up in a bedroom that's cool.

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Bonus: Cooler temperatures make for better blanket forts.

Studies suggest there's an optimal temperature for sleeping: 60-66 degrees Fahrenheit if you're wearing pajamas and have a blanket, and 86-89 degrees if you prefer to sleep with a little less on. Scientists think that when our bodies cool down, it helps jump-start the sleep process.

Skip the snooze button. Your body will thank you.

That glorious snooze button sure seems inviting in the morning, but it could be messing up your sleep cycle and making you feel more tired throughout the day. Here are two reasons you should skip the snooze:

The quality of sleep you get after hitting snooze is less than if you just continued sleeping for those extra 10 minutes. And by falling back to sleep, you're setting yourself up for another sleep cycle that you have no chance of finishing, according to Robert S. Rosenberg, who is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, AZ.

Avoid a night cap.

Anyone who's ever had one too many knows that alcohol sometimes seems to put you to sleep.

However, according to the National Institute of Health, alcohol toys with signals in your brain that affect your quality of sleep. More specifically, it robs you of the deeper, restorative stages of sleep, which is why you may feel tired and unrested the morning after.

If you're a teen, try to avoid waking up at the crack of dawn.

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Middle and high school students are in the midst of a sleep-deprivation crisis, Paul Kelley of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford recently said.

To combat this, Kelley suggests a later start to the day. And he isn't the only one who supports this. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends recommends that middle and high schools should not start before 8:30 am; a recent study by the Department of Health also advocates for later school starting times.

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