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Senior woman sleepingBe honest: how many hours of sleep do you get at night on average? Less than seven? A lot less than seven? If that’s the case, then you are part of the one-third of American adults who don’t get enough shut-eye.

We all know that lack of sleep has been associated with injuries, chronic diseases and irritability, but now a comprehensive study in the journal Sleep suggests it might also weaken tolerance for pain.

“Our results suggest the importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures,” said Timothy Roehrs, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and lead author. “We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine.”

Even more reason to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following sleep hygiene tips to achieve healthy sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning. Establishing such a routine will train the body how to be most efficient.
  • Moderate physical activity may help promote sleep, but avoid vigorous exercise in the few hours before going to bed, as this might keep you up past your desired bedtime.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Avoid nicotine, both before bed and, for that matter, at all times.
  • Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark and relaxing environment that is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Remove all TVs, computers and other devices from the bedroom.
  • Turn off your cell phone a few hours before going to sleep, as blue light can impact your body’s ability to create melatonin.
  • Your bed should be comfortable and used only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV or listening to music.