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What Do You Do When You Can't Fall Asleep?

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 11/15/2011 8:02 am   Updated: 11/16/2011 2:51 pm

Each week, more than half of Americans spend a few nights struggling to fall asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And as we all know by now, skipping out on shuteye can have serious health consequences, from weight gain and heart trouble to decreased concentration and daytime drowsiness.

But sometimes, despite our best efforts, sleep doesn't come naturally -- so we asked a handful of HuffPost editors to tell us their go-to tactics (healthy and unhealthy in the interest of full disclosure). Then, we asked Dr. Michael Decker, Ph.D., an associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, to rate how healthy and effective each strategy is.

If sleep trouble persists for more than a month, Dr. Decker suggests speaking with a doctor. And check out tested ways to beat insomnia in the related slideshow below.

Number 1: Laptops And Streaming Movies
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Our editor says: When I can't fall asleep, I stream Netflix on my computer and fall asleep with it on my bed (probably bad for me and my computer).

The expert says: "She's absolutely right," Decker explains. "If a person is looking at a computer screen, they're stimulating their brain with bright light." And so while the computer-time may have started as a way to unwind, it achieves the exact opposite effect.

Decker suggests turning off any screens an hour or two before bedtime (instead of working up until the last possible moment) and starting a simple bedtime routine.
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Don't Force It
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Go to be only when you are sleepy, not at a predetermined time.

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