FROM BEDTIMES TO BLANKET CHOICES, these guidelines will improve your rise and shine!

You may think it's a simple as putting on PJ's (or not), lights out and zzzzzzz's, but the truth is most of us are not sleeping correctly.  And what's worse, ignoring proper sleep habits can put your health at risk.  Follow these five rules for a better nights sleep.

RULE #1 - SET A 7-DAYS-A-WEEK SCHEDULE:   Regularity is vital.  Mother Nature loves consistency.  "Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time, naturally, including weekends. " says Equinox advisory board member and sleep expert James B. Mass, Ph.D., author of Sleep for Success!  "You have one Biological clock, not one for your work week and one for the weekend.  You must synchronize the circadian sleepy phase of your biological clock with your bedtime, and the alert phase with your waking life, otherwise a yo-yo schedule will give you symptoms similar to those of jet lag- daytime drowsiness, slow reaction time, impaired cognition, moodiness, lack of energy."   To know your personal sleep time, Maas suggests choosing a time that's a minimum of eight hours before you need to wake up, and following it for one week straight.  Still tired?  That means you need a earlier bedtime )try just 15 to 30 minutes more.)  Once you can get up in the morning alarm-free and feel alert most of the day, you've hit it just right. 

RULE #2 CUT CAFFEINE AFTER 2 PM-  Late afternoon is when the body has a temporary drop in focus and why the urge to have some caffeine often strikes.  While a buzz will definitely perk you up, it could linger long after you've left work.  "six hours after your last sip of caffeine it's still in your body and working, so it's crucial to keep your daily intake under 300 mg- like three small cups- and to avoid it anytime after 2 p.m., says Maas.

RULE #3 - CONTROL YOUR BODY TEMPERATURE -  Overheating is a major sleep disruptor, according to Maas.  Research shows that 65 degrees is the sweet spot temperature for a good night's rest, which means you need to do what you need in order to keep it in check.  Set your thermostat, choose a lighter blanket and P.J.s, or use a fan.

RULE #4 - DIM IF NOT DITCH YOUR DEVICES -  As addictive as bedtime Twitter scrolling may be, it's the emitted light that's the problem.  "Blue light hits the spectrum of day light -  it's an alerting mechanism - so it like going into the sun," says Maas.  Translated:  It wakes you up!!.  "Avoid any electronics, at least one hour before bed so that you don;t block melatonin, the sleep hormone that's secreted when you're in the dark, and delay the onset of sleep.

RULE #5 JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS -  "Prescription sleep medications can actually be really dangerous - they can cause heart attacks, strokes and even death," says Maas.  "I always try to get patients off of pills."  Maas says that if you think taking medications helps you sleep, then it probably does, and regardless, it won't cause any harm.  But for some, it simply isn't effective and the current research is unreliable - some people who are given a placebo will sleep as long as those given the real thing. 

(exerpted from article by Nicole Cantanese)