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Originally published Friday, November 26, 2010 at 11:59 AM

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8 tips to feel better after a sleepless night

How to beat that drowsy feeling and get back on track for a good night's sleep.

Daily Press (Newport News, Va

After a night of tossing and turning, the next day is exhausting — and seemingly endless. Sleep specialists say you can feel a bit better, and improve your odds of a good sleep the next night, with these steps:

Don't hit the caffeine hard. In fact, cut off all caffeine after 2 p.m. "Caffeine may increase irritability, make falling asleep at night difficult or cause frequent waking during the night," says Dr. Martha Boulos, a neurologist at the Sleep Disorders Center at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, Va. "Then you can fall into a bad cycle and mess up your whole week of sleep."

Be careful about driving. Lack of sleep affects reaction time and focusing ability. If you're really dragging, try to get a ride.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration makes you even sleepier. Just go easy in the evening to prevent nighttime urination.

Eat small, healthy meals. That way, your body won't have to put much energy into digestion. Vegetables and fruits are great for keeping you well hydrated.

Be smart about naps. If you really need some shut-eye, limit naps to 20 or 30 minutes and don't snooze after 4 p.m. Alternatives to napping: get some exercise, listen to fast-paced music, splash cold water on your face or socialize with friends.

Do something new. A change in routine — starting a project, for example, or trying a different exercise class — can help you stay alert.

Stay cool. Turn down the heat, keep a window open and dress lightly. Warmer temperatures — think hot baths — make you drowsier.

Rewind at night. Take a hot bath (see above), listen to soothing music or read. If sleep troubles continue for a week or two, talk to your primary care doctor.

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