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By Rufus Carter

For millions of Americans, good sleep can be elusive due to stress or unhealthy habits that leave us feeling overwhelmed and unable to relax. For those who have jobs that require motivating others, this can be especially difficult and can lead to an inability to function well at work, which can have serious consequences. Improving the way you sleep — and, thereby, the way you feel— can have huge effects on just about every aspect of your life. But how do you get started?

Keep reading for some great tips on how to improve your sleep cycle for a better life.

Get Things Organized

Making positive changes in your daily routine needs to start with getting organized. You may feel that you have your professional life under control, but if your cognitive function is taking a hit because you aren’t well rested, it can help to declutter and make things as neat as possible. In fact, living amongst too much clutter can have a pretty negative effect on your mental health as a whole, so this is a good idea whether you’re sleeping well or not. You can start small by picking up some storage bins to help keep things organized, or do a major purge and start living small.

Change Up Your Bedding

Making sure your bedding is in good shape is essential for good rest. If your mattress is more than a few years old, or if you suffer from body pain when you wake up, it might be time to update it. Look for one that provides pressure support, either from a gel foam, memory foam, or latex mattress, and think about your spine health as well. Back pain is a side effect of sleeping on a mattress that can’t get the job done, and this can have a negative impact on your work, especially if you’re required to stand for long periods of time.

Create a Sleep Routine

The right sleep routine can help you feel relaxed and ready to settle down after a long day, and it’s different for everyone. You might enjoy reading before bed or taking a hot bath to ease tense muscles. Make sure you put away any electronic devices at least an hour beforehand, as the blue light these emit can seriously alter your sleep patterns.

Get More Exercise

If you work long hours, it can be difficult to find the time to exercise every day, but with some creativity, you can find a way. You might use your lunch break to go for a walk, or wake up 15 minutes earlier each day to practice yoga. Incorporate something fun into your exercise routine, such as swimming or playing with your dog, to keep yourself motivated.

Eat the Right Foods

If your job requires you to travel a lot, you may be relying too much on fast food and vending machine fare rather than looking for healthier, more nutritional options. Try bringing along an insulated cooler full of healthy snacks — think turkey wraps, veggies and hummus, and fruit — and stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Go for leafy greens, nuts, berries, and lean protein to keep up your energy on those long days.

Improving your sleep habits can go a long way toward helping you make better choices in all aspects of your life, and it will allow you to take control of your health at the same time. Talk to your doctor if you find yourself unable to sleep several nights a week or if you have trouble staying asleep, as these could be signs of a physical or mental health issue. With a good plan and some support from your medical professional and loved ones, you can find better rest and, in turn, enjoy better overall health.