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Catching some ZZZZs: Six tips for getting better sleep

Illustration by Laura Coyle.

The act of sleeping might seem like the most natural thing in the world. At the end of the day, we grow tired, lie down, close our eyes, and drift into restful oblivion for seven or eight hours. Right?

For many of us, it's just not that simple—which is why Nancy Collop, director of the Emory Clinic Sleep Center, and her team treat hundreds of patients each year who have trouble sleeping. An expert in sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea, Collop begins by asking patients numerous questions about their sleep habits to determine whether basic changes could improve their night's rest. While some solutions may seem obvious, it's surprising how many people slip into routine behaviors that adversely affect their sleep, Collop says. 

"Sometimes we are able to pick up on problematic patterns that are clues to their sleep difficulties," she says. "Do they have a sleep disorder, or is there something else going on?"

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