Everyone knows it's important to get a good night’s sleep, but what exactly is that?

Is it the eight hours often touted as the common benchmark? The answer is, sort of. The key is getting at least eight solid hours of sleep.

Most of us think it’s normal to wake up once or twice in the night, whether you just flip around to get more comfy or go to the bathroom. While not unusual, it’s not great for you.

If you can’t get eight to nine straight hours of sleep — going through two or three cycles of the restorative REM (rapid eye movement) deep sleep — you won't be able to function at your optimum physical and mental level.

That means you’ll have less energy and your immune system may become depressed, making you susceptible to getting sick. Your body’s ability to repair itself will also be interrupted, which could cause your workouts to be dialed back.

It's no surprise, then, that the importance of sleep is becoming a focal point, with some health experts viewing proper sleep as the “new steroid.” That's because people who get a really good night's sleep are stronger and perform better, with the carry-over benefits coming more quickly.

Think of it as a positive circle — the hormonal benefits of solid sleep give you more energy, which you want to burn off at the club. In turn, that produces better workouts and results, feeding your motivation to continue the pattern.

Here are 4 tips to help you achieve better sleep:

Be cool
One of the common reasons people wake up is because they’re hot.

Your room temperature should ideally be below 18 C (64 F), which allows the body to stay at a better comfort level.

There are products to help maintain that temperature around your body, including a chilling pad that pumps water to keep the surface of your mattress cool.

Get unplugged
Turn off your electronic devices at least 15 minutes before you go to bed. That includes your computer, cellphone and the television.

Engaging in those activities keeps your brain too active and messes with your ability to fall asleep.

Into the dark ages
Your bedroom should be completely dark, which goes hand in hand with not having any light from a phone or TV.

Blackout window curtains or shades work well and are available at many stores.

Mineral assistance
Taking magnesium before bed is another tool to help you sleep better.

Dr. Natasha Turner, a Canadian naturopathic doctor and bestselling author

By adopting these tips, you'll give yourself a head start to reaching your full potential in the gym — and isn't that what we're all trying to achieve?