If you get seven to nine hours of good sleep each night, you can boost your immune system, lower your risk of heart diseases and diabetes, and keep your waistline trim. Try these tips to sleep longer and more deeply:

1. Gradually bring forward your bedtime by 15 minutes a night.

2. Darken your room with curtains that do not let in light.

3. Dim the lights in your home about an hour before bed, and start a routine that tells your body it’s time to sleep. Examples: put on pyjamas, brush teeth, wash face, read a book, say your evening prayers.

4. Avoid the TV and computer or reading an exciting book that may keep you awake.

5. Eat dinner early so you can have at least two hours of active time after dinner before going to bed.

6. Avoid heavy discussions or arguments before going to bed.

7. Meditate or do light stretching.

People who relax in the evening fall asleep about 30 minutes sooner and get an extra hour of sleep than those who don’t.

Published in January 2012