Is this why you're not sleeping well?

In this day and age, many of us are juggling demanding jobs and domestic responsibilities, suffering from a great deal of stress, and pulling late nights. Heck, we might as well have a USB jack in our wrists for all the time we spend plugged in to our Apple products. It's no wonder-and no shock to hear-that most of us aren't getting the proper amount of beauty sleep. To top it all off, according to the National Sleep Foundation, women are biologically conditioned not to sleep as well as men! This is due to the fluctuation of hormone levels (i.e. estrogen and progesterone) in our bodies throughout the month and over our lifetime. (Seriously...where can I lodge a complaint?) In addition to the fact that your body may be working against you, most of us make it more difficult for ourselves to finally get some rest when the time comes by participating in a variety of sleep-depriving activities throughout the day. So, turn on your white noise machine, grab a glass of warm milk and consider these eight sleep tips to help you get better quality (and quantity!) rest:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on your days off. This sets the body's "internal clock" to expect sleep at a certain time each night. However, don't lay in bed agonizing over falling asleep if you're not truly tired. If sleep does not come within 20 minutes, go do something relaxing until you feel yourself fading.

2. Cut the caffeine, alcohol and nicotine: This one's a no-brainer. All these substances are stimulants that can keep you awake. Don't worry, we're not asking you to forgo your morning latte-just avoid caffeine for 4-6 hours before bedtime.

3. Nap early, or not at all: If you must nap, do it before 5 p.m. If falling asleep or remaining asleep at night is hard for you, daytime napping will only exacerbate the problem. Late-day naps throw off your body's system for recognizing when you should be hitting the hay.

4. Get comfortable: Make sure your bedroom is an ideal sleep environment (i.e. cool, dark, and quiet). Our bodies are attuned to the light/dark cycle, so people sleep better and longer in dark rooms. Also, according to Dr. Donna Arand, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center, the ideal temperature for sleep is around 67 or 68 degrees. Use room-darkening shades, choose bedding that feels comfortable to you, and invest in a fan or AC (the white noise from these devices can also help lull you to sleep).

5. Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine: Do something relaxing in the hour or so before you go to bed, like taking a bath, reading a book, watching TV, or meditating. If you still feel anxious, calm yourself down by writing out all the things you need to do the next day and forming a plan of action.

6. Exercise early: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. However, since exercise triggers the body to release the stress hormone cortisol, which leaves you feeling energized, be sure to get your workout in early!

7. Keep late-night snacking light: This one's pretty obvious-going to bed either hungry or stuffed might cause annoying discomfort and prevent you from falling asleep.

8. Don't look at the clock (or your phone): Shut off your phone and turn the face of your clock away from you. Staring at precious resting time passing you by or obsessively checking your work email prevents you from mentally shutting down and catching those much-needed zzz's.

For more info on why you're tossing and turning, see the full article here.

More from Elizabeth Street:
At-Home Restorative Yoga Poses For Better Sleep and Less Stress
9 Sleep Tips for Kids (& Their Exhausted Parents) During Travel
The Surprising Gadgets That Will Put Your Kids To Sleep
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