Source October 05, 2015

When was the last time you had a solid night of sleep? If it has been eluding you, there's probably a reason for it. There are a lot of rules when it comes to getting the proper amount of shuteye, but following them could make a difference between dozing to dreamland and tossing all night. 

Below are just a few guidelines you should always abide by to ensure a night full of Zzzs.

1. Prioritize it.

You know that phrase, "I'll sleep when I'm dead?" Yeah, if you don't sleep, you might be pushing yourself there. Research shows that too little sleep can increase your mortality risk after a while. Not only that, not enough shuteye can compromise your immune system, increase your risk for heart disease and jeopardize your health in other ways. In other words? You can't afford not to prioritize it.

2. Pay attention to poor sleeping patterns.

Troublesome snoring? Constant alertness? It could be a sign of something more serious, like sleep apena or insomnia. If you have inconsistent sleeping patterns or if your habits are keeping you awake or a regular basis, talk to a medical professional to see what's going on.

3. Create an ideal environment.

Proper temperature is key to a night full of restful Zzzs -- and our brain prefers a cold one. A slight drop in body temperature can prompt tiredness, Natalie Dautovich, an environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation, previously told HuffPost. Try to keep your room around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, she said.

4. Get the right amount of sleep.

There isn't exactly an "eight hour rule" -- some people need more sleep than others. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults aim for seven to nine hours a night total. It's up to you to find the perfect amount in between that.

5. Ban screens from your bed.

Hate to break it to you, binge watchers and Instagram scrollers, but that habit might be damaging if you're doing it right before bed. Research shows that the blue light emitted from the screens can wreak havoc on the quality of sleep, so keep those devices someplace else.

6. Stick to a similar bed time.

This one goes out to those of you who stay out until wee hours of the night (or morning) during the weekends under the premise that you can snooze all day to make up for sleep. While getting sleep is always a good idea -- no matter what time it is -- this habit (known as "social jet lag") can seriously throw your body's internal clock out of whack. If you truly want to optimize your sleep, try hitting the hay around the same time every night.

7. Don't drink before bed.

Sorry, nightcap indulgers. You may think that glass will lull you to a night full of snoozing but it turns out the effect is quite the opposite. Research shows that alcohol can disrupt consistent sleep, causing you to wake up more frequently during the night and make you not feel as rested in the morning.

8. Reserve your bed for the two S's.

That's sleep and sex. If you treat your bed like your work desk or Grand Central Station soon enough your brain will start associating it with a plethora of activities, which can weaken "the mental association between your bedroom and sleep," according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

9. Monitor your afternoon behaviors.

Of course we're all about naps and coffee, but even those should be used in moderation. Limit your naps to 20 to 30 minutes and halt your caffeine intake around eight hours before you go to sleep just to ensure they don't get in the way of drifting off.

10. Get out of bed if you can't sleep.

If you're tossing back and forth, don't stay in bed. If you do stay put -- and do it enough -- your brain could begin to associate your sleep haven with not sleeping, Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good, previously told HuffPost. Head to a different room for a few minutes instead.

The bottom line? Sleep should be a serious part of your everyday routine. If you're having some trouble drifting off to dreamland, try one these tricks to help you fall asleep faster. Change your sleep, change your life.