By Dina Roth Port for Prevention
Any bleary-eyed new mom or dad will tell you that the expression "sleep like a baby" is grossly misleading. Many babies sleep through the night only when they're put on a schedule. And you know what? If you can't remember the last time you got a good -- and full -- night's sleep, the same thing will work for you. "Our bodies have an internal rhythm that takes cues from daytime behaviors, so the more strictly a person adheres to a schedule, the more his or her body will know when it's time to sleep," says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the author of several books on sleep, including The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight through Better Sleep.
In today's world, where smartphones keep us tethered to work 24/7 and we all have more balls in the air than a Ringling Brothers clown, that might seem easier said than done. But there are plenty of good reasons to try, and not just because lack of sleep makes you crankier than a carb addict on Atkins. Research has linked sleep deprivation to some surprising conditions, including weight gain, reduced immunity, diabetes and heart disease (not to mention that groggy "just give me another cup of coffee now" feeling that marks the days of the approximately one in four women who has trouble sleeping).
Find it hard to get yourself on any kind of schedule? We can help. We put together an hour-by-hour action plan that will help you fall asleep -- and stay asleep -- by 11 p.m. tonight. If your bedtime is earlier or later, adjust the times to compensate. Either way, you can look forward to finally getting the sleep you need.