It can affect athletic performance, increase the chances of getting sick, and in some people, it can be linked to weight gain.

How can we sleep the number of hours we need? Here are some ideas:

Stay active during the day. You’ve probably noticed how little children run around … and the depth of their sleep. Follow the example of the little ones and exercise at least 60 minutes a day. Physical activity can decrease stress and help you feel more relaxed.

Do not use drugs or alcohol. Many people believe that alcohol and drugs relax them and make them drowsy, but they do not. Alcohol and drugs disturb your sleep and increase your chances of waking up in the middle of the night.

Say good night to electronics. Experts recommend using the bedroom only for sleeping. If you can’t turn your bedroom into a tech-free zone, at least turn everything off an hour or more before turning off the lights. Nothing tells you “Wake up, something is happening!” more explicitly than the buzz of a text message or the warning sound of an instant message.

Have a bedtime routine. Establishing a fixed bedtime routine can enhance this relaxing effect. So relax every night by reading, listening to music, spending time with a pet, writing in a journal, playing Sudoku games, or doing whatever else relaxes you.

Expect a good night’s sleep. Stress can lead to insomnia: the more you despair about not being able to sleep, the more risk you run of staying awake staring at the ceiling. Instead of worrying that you won’t be able to sleep, remind yourself that you can. Say “I will sleep well tonight” several times during the day. It can also be helpful to practice breathing exercises or gentle yoga positions before going to bed.

We all have a sleepless night from time to time. But if you’re having trouble sleeping and you think it’s affecting your mood or performance, see your doctor.