According to the National Institutes for Health’s National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, 70 million Americans have problems with sleep. Sleep disorders, lack of sleep, and sleepiness cost the US an estimated $15.9 billion in health care. The national cost for disease resulting from lack of adequate sleep, lost worker productivity, and accidents is unknown. (1)

The financial costs to society are only a part of the picture. The costs to the health and well-being of the people who aren’t sleeping well are incalculable. Deep, restful sleep is important for the rest and repair, or relaxation response of our bodies. This is essential for counteracting the stress response and repairing the damage of daily life.

Over time, inadequate or poor quality sleep may lead to impairments in your immune system, cognitive decline, weight problems, mood problems, exacerbation of mental health disorders, inflammation, and even an increased risk of death.

Experts say that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Children need even more. The evidence is clear that sound and adequate sleep is necessary for good health. If you are one of the 70 million Americans who have trouble sleeping, try some of these suggestions for naturally better sleep.

1. Sleep in the Dark

Light at nighttime disrupts your body’s daily rhythms. Be sure that your bedroom is very dark. You can use light-blocking curtains to block light from streetlamps or nearby buildings. Unless you get up at dawn every day, it’s helpful to block morning sunlight as well. If you can’t make your room really dark, try a light-blocking sleep mask.

2. Relax and Wind Down

Use relaxing yoga, meditation or guided visualizations to wind down in the evening. Grokker has at least 43 videos and 296 collections to help. Just search on ‘sleep’ and try some of the many options to find what works best for you.

3. Cool Down

Sleeping in a cool but not cold room is known to improve sleep quality. Experts recommend keeping the room between 65-72 degrees. You may want to experiment to find what works best for you.

4. Eat Early or Lightly in the Evening

A heavy meal eaten fewer than 3 hours before bedtime could be contributing to sleep trouble. Plan to eat dinner earlier and see if your sleep more soundly. If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, try making dinner your lightest meal of the day.

5. Avoid Glowing Screens

Artificial light in the evening disrupts your brain’s daily rhythms, even in the hours before you go to bed. The blue-tinged light from the screens of televisions, computers, tablets and cellphones is thought to be especially disruptive. Try to spend your evening hours relaxing in a dimly lit space. Some people wear orange- or amber-tinted glasses in the evening to block the blue light.

6. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym or run 10 miles every day to receive benefits from exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise early in the day may help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. Grokker’s huge library of exercise videos is sure to provide you with some great workouts for any fitness level.

7. Manage Pain

Many people have trouble sleeping because of chronic pain. If you can’t get comfortable because of a sore back or other pain, your sleep is likely to be restless. It’s important to deal with pain. There are many non-drug therapies that may relieve your pain in the long-term. Acupuncture has been proven again and again to relieve pain. If you choose acupuncture, be sure to choose a fully trained and licensed Acupuncturist. Your Acupuncturist should have graduated from an accredited acupuncture college and have received at least three to four academic years of graduate level training prior to licensing. Massage, chiropractic, or physical therapy are often used to eliminate or manage pain. Pilates, Feldenkrais, therapeutic yoga, and many other movement therapies may also provide long-term pain relief.

8. Get Comfortable

Your bed, bedding and pillows, and even what you wear to bed all play an important role in the quality of your sleep. Many people have trouble sleeping if their covers are too warm, or not warm enough. A pillow may be too hard or too soft. If your nightclothes are constricting, itchy or otherwise uncomfortable, you may not sleep well.

9. Avoid Sugar Spikes

Blood sugar spikes and crashes can disturb your sleep. If you find yourself waking often in the pre-dawn hours unable to get back to sleep, or only able to get back to sleep after a snack, it might be a signal that your body is having trouble regulating your blood sugar. Avoiding sugary desserts or sweet snacks may help. Having a small snack high in protein and fat before bed may help as well.

10. Cut Back on Caffeine

Caffeine is found in coffee, black, green and even white tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and even chocolate. If you have trouble sleeping, cutting out caffeine after noon may help, and by reducing overall caffeine you may find that your sleep is more restful.

Seek professional help

Sleep should be a health priority and if these suggestions don’t help you get rested, it might be time to look to professionals for help. That might be your family doctor, a psychotherapist, a nutritionist, health coach, Oriental Medicine practitioner, or other expert.