Going to bed is not just something that you do after a long day. It is also something that rests you, refreshes you, sets the tone for the following day, and has a major impact on your physical and mental health. Despite the importance of getting a good night's slumber, millions of Americans have failed to develop healthy sleep habits to such an extent that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has labeled insufficient sleep as a public health problem.

Sleep troubles can begin hours before falling asleep, or even getting ready for bed. Stress or anxiety during the day increases adrenaline, making it more challenging to shut your body down before bed. Stress and anxiety may make your thoughts race once your eyes are closed, and wake you up in the middle of the night. High levels of caffeine intake and screen time, staples of the modern lifestyle, can also be detrimental to getting some shut-eye.

So how can you fall asleep and stay asleep? Experts recommend a "settling period" of about one hour before bed each night. Block off this period of time and create a nightly routine that maximizes relaxation and minimizes stress, such as taking a bath, reading a book, meditating, listening to soft music, or doing breathing exercises. Avoid taking part in any stress-inducing activities before bed. And do not look at screens. While watching TV before bed might feel relaxing, the artificial lights slow melatonin production and impact your quality of sleep even if you do manage to nod off.

A pre-bed routine can solve many problems but if other things are keeping you awake it might be time to take a look at your mental health. Try a free, online screening at www.dailybreadcounseling.org