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How to Get a Healthy Amount of Sleep Tonight

Snoozing for eight solid hours doesn’t just help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go-go-go, it also cuts your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke in half, plus heightens blood-sugar control more effectively than prescription diabetes meds. Wish you could sleep more deeply? You can with these proven strategies.

Can’t drift off? Say your prayers.

Take 10 minutes each night to offer up prayers for your loved ones’ health and happiness, and you’ll cut your risk of insomnia by 81 percent and drift off up to 30 minutes sooner, often from the very first night. Duke University researchers say regular bedtime prayer calms the emotional control center of the brain, plus prods the release of the soothing, mood-steadying hormone oxytocin.

Toss and turn? Sip a floral tea.

If your bed looks like a tornado hit it by morning, try sipping 8 oz. of passionflower tea before bed. Two recent studies suggest that the active ingredient in this herbal brew (harmaline) helps women sleep up to 72 percent more deeply and soundly all night long. That makes this gentle, natural tranquilizer as effective as prescription sleep meds, explains study co-author Avi Hazra, PhD.

Jolted awake at night? Try this soother.

If worries jerk you awake, your brain might not be making enough of a calming neurotransmitter called GABA. Research suggests taking 500 mg. of this soother could cut wake-up risk by 56 percent. That’s because GABA quiets your central nervous system and your brain’s anxiety center. Try: Now Foods GABA ($7.01, Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.

Wake up way too early? Dine on bell peppers.

Eyes wide open before your alarm goes off may be a signal that your body craves vitamin C. Italian researchers say C calms your adrenal glands, stopping them from releasing an early morning surge of the stress hormone cortisol. Add 1 cup of vitamin C–rich produce to your daily diet and you could sleep 35 minutes longer and feel 60 percent more upbeat all day.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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