Most of us, at one time or another, have struggled with trying to get a good night’s sleep. You can count sheep or try breathing exercises, but by morning the only thing you've achieved is a better familiarity with the ceiling-tile layout.

According to board-certified sleep expert and chairman of the National Sleep Foundation Russell Rosenberg, there are a few common mistakes people make that hinder their ability to get a solid night’s rest. Here is a look at a few of them:

Five Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

  • Get rid of the cell phone. Rosenberg says that a cell phone is a potential sleep hazard because so many people who try to sleep with their phone next to them are tempted to check their messages periodically throughout the night. Turning it off or leaving it in another room is best.
  • Shut down the laptop. The bright light that comes from computer screens (and cell phones) suppresses melatonin in the brain and decreases your body’s ability to produce good sleep, according to Rosenberg. Keep your bedroom dark.
  • Avoid television death. Rosenberg explains that while some people like to unwind to their favorite late-night crime drama, that particular theme is not conducive to sleep. Try sticking to comedy instead.
  • Lock out the pets. Pets are not sympathetic to your need for rest. "They whine to go out, or they're nocturnal like cats and may run around the bedroom or want to play," says Rosenberg.
  • Limit alcohol intake. It can be hard not to drink after a hard day at the office, but according to Rosenberg, too much booze makes sleep more difficult. "Alcohol is really bad for sleep generally," he says. "It lightens the sleep, disrupts the quality of sleep, and people have more awakenings when they've been drinking too close to bedtime." Rosenberg suggests at least a three-hour drinking hiatus before bed.

[Today]