The bad news is you’re here because you’re having trouble sleeping. The good news is there is a multitude of sleep tips out there to help you get a better rest at night!
There are so many ways you can help yourself out when it comes to getting a proper sleep. Whether it’s cutting out bad habits or harmful substances that actually hinder your ability to fall asleep, or adding new steps to your nighttime routine, there’s no shortage of ways to get the sleep you need.
We gathered 24 different tips to help you get the sleep you need and feel properly rested in the morning. So sit back, relax and maybe take some notes!
1. Get rid of those pesky light sources. When any source of light (iPhone, laptop, etc) manages to pass through your closed eyelids, it can delay your brain from releasing the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. “Light is a powerful signal to your brain to be awake,” explains Dr. Shives, a board-certified sleep medicine doctor.
2. Keep it cool. You fall asleep faster in a slightly colder environment. Keep your room a cool temperature but not cold, which can wake you up more. Experts usually recommend setting your bedroom thermostat between 65° and 75°F.
3. Be consistent. Following a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time helps to regulate your body’s clock.
4. Have a bedtime ritual. Relaxing, routine activity (reading, yoga, etc) right before bedtime gives you that time you need to wind down. Let your body shift into sleep mode!
5. Avoid naps. Power napping may help you get through the day but could be the culprit if you find yourself unable to fall asleep at night. If you need to nap, nap early or not at all.
6. Exercise daily. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people sleep significantly better if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. The study showed exercise provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality.
7. Melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a potent hormone naturally produced in the body to help regulate our circadian rhythm or natural body clock. Professor Alfred Lewy at Oregon Health & Science University says a larger dose (3 mg) can promote sleep: “It works for some people, but not for others.”
8. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. The life expectancy of a quality mattress is about 8 to 10 years. Have comfortable pillows free of allergens.
9. Reconsider sleeping with furry friends. Cats can be active at inconvenient hours and dogs can unintentionally wake you up with movement or noise. More than half of people who sleep with their pets say animals disturb their slumber, according to the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center.
10. Avoid alcohol. It takes an average person about an hour to metabolize one drink so adjust your alcohol intake accordingly.
11. Stop smoking. Nicotine (found in cigarettes) is a stimulant, and stimulants can prevent you from falling asleep. Don’t worry that quitting will keep you up at night, either: the after-effects of quitting will only last about 3 nights but pay out long-term, says Dr. Shives.
12. Don’t look at the clock. Staring at the time before bed, or when you wake up in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress and make sleeping more difficult.
13. Go into another room until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.
14. Turn on the white noise. Sound machines produce a low-level soothing noise that not only helps you sleep but can also help you tune out other disturbances so you can fall asleep easier.
15. Keep a sleep diary. Try tracking your sleep every day for at least 2 weeks. Write down even small details such as what you ate close to bedtime and what exercise you got. Compare your sleep patterns and adjust accordingly.
16. Review your medications. Some medications can cause insomnia. Ask your doctor if your medication could be affecting your sleep!
17. No caffeine after 2 pm. That includes coffee, tea, pop…anything with caffeine. Caffeine, like nicotine, is a stimulant that stays in your system for many hours and can prevent your brain from entering deep sleep or prevent you from falling asleep altogether.
18. Write down your thoughts. “The number one sleep complaint I hear? ‘I can’t turn off my mind,'” says Clinical Psychologist Dr. Breus. Write down anything stressing you out and brainstorm solutions. Having a plan of action can help you fall asleep easier.
19. Listen to a bedtime story. Load an audiobook that can distract your attention enough to drift off to sleep, suggests Dr. Shives.
20. Cheese and crackers. It might sound strange but this is actually the ideal snack to munch on a couple hours before bedtime. It combines carbohydrates and calcium-containing amino acids that boost serotonin, a brain chemical that helps you feel calm.
21. Take a relaxing bath or a hot shower. Studies have shown it can improve overall sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster.
22. Spray a sleep-inducing scent. Certain smells, such as lavender, help with relaxation and overall sleep quality. Research done by psychologists at Wesleyan University found lavender increased slow-wave sleep. Invest in a diffuser or simply add a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle.
23. Rule out a sleep disorder. An underlying health condition may be the cause of your sleep problems, such as sleep apnea. Other common medically diagnosed issues include sleep movement disorders and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders.
24. If you’re still having trouble sleeping… talk to your doctor about it or seek help from a sleep professional.