With a suggestion of 8 hours per night of sleep, what makes this area of wellness so important that the average person should spend 33% of their day engaged in sleep?  In studies of humans and other animals, scientists have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine from Harvard Medical School, here are 12 steps for improving sleep:

1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep

2. Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment

3. Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine

4. Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired

5. Don’t Be a Nighttime Clock-Watcher

6. Use Light to Your Advantage

7. Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule

8. Nap Early—Or Not at All

9. Lighten Up on Evening Meals

10. Balance Fluid Intake

11. Exercise Early

12. Follow Through