Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.- Sleep is vital to sustaining energy, balancing emotions, work and fitness performance, as well as your overall health. Most people struggle with sleeping issues by either not getting enough, not sleeping restfully, or a combination of both. It is important to practice healthy sleep habits in order to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few habits you may want to work into your daily schedule.

Reduce Caffeine Intake
Caffeine disturbs sleep, even in people who don't think caffeine affects them. People who have trouble sleeping are often more sensitive to mild stimulants than normal sleepers are. Caffeine is found in items such as coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and many over-the-counter medications.

Sleep is not a waste of your time so don't skip on a full night sleep
Taking the time to sleep can seem frustrating when you have a very busy life; however it is exactly what you need in order to support the biological process that your brain requires to maintain optimal performance. Did you know that staying awake for 17 hours or more is actually like being under the influence of alcohol? If you don't sleep enough, your brain will not operate at top speed the next day. Sleep is also important to improve memory and regulate hormones.

Take the TV or computer out of your room
Having distractions in your room can make it difficult for you to wind down and get restful sleep. Anything that is going to stimulate your brain or distract you while going to bed is causing you to lose sleep. It is important to associate your bedroom with sleep rather than a place to eat and watch TV. Try to make it a place that you know you can go to get restful and uninterrupted or distracted sleep.

When you're tired go to bed
It's difficult to stop that movie or put down that book when you start getting tired. Going to bed when you're not tired can also be an issue. Going to bed too early can make be frustrating or make it difficult to shut off your mind. Not going to bed when your body is telling you its tired can cause you to not get enough sleep.

Practice a good bedtime routine
Practicing a good bedtime routine can help your body to start to wind down and help you get restful sleep. Allow yourself at least an hour before bedtime to unwind. Avoid stressful, simulating activities such as doing work, cleaning, or discussing emotional issues. Practicing good hygiene before bed is also helpful. Brushing your teeth and flossing, washing your face, or taking a hot bath or shower can help you wind down.

The bottom line when it comes to getting restful sleep is doing what works for you. There is no magical formula other than listening to your body.

(Editors note: Kaylene Pursely is a Health Educator at the Fort Leonard Wood Army Wellness Center)