Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being. If you are having trouble sleeping, you’re probably getting all kinds of different advice for how to fix the problem.
Don’t worry! We’ve done the research for you and assembled all the most reliable tips for better sleep, including recommendations from experts at the National Sleep Foundation and Harvard Medical School.
Method 1. Getting to Sleep Quickly (Easy Methods)
Relax in a nice warm bath or shower in the evening. As well as relaxing you, afterwards your body will cool down, which helps you sleep better. Putting on lotion after will help your skin be moisturized and warm.
Take 400mg of a magnesium supplement 30 to 45 minutes before bed. Magnesium helps with insomnia by decreasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. It can also increase the quality and length that you sleep. Magnesium supplements can be purchased in the vitamin section of your pharmacy or you can’t go wrong with the Amazon way, Nobi Nutrition High Absorption Magnesium Complex – Premium Mag Supplement for Sleep is a high rated alternative.
Sleep naked. According to sleep specialists at the Cleveland Sleep Clinic, sleeping in the nude helps you regulate your temperature. Get a comfortable temperature using blankets or duvet (of suitable warmth), sheets, and pillows. It is usually best to be slightly on the cool side.
- Preferably sleep with your arms and head out from under the bedclothes, unless the room is very cold.
- Feeling too hot? Learn how to sleep comfortably on a hot night. Feeling too cold? Learn how to sleep when it’s cold.
- Keep an extra blanket right by the bed, just in case you get cold at night. Don’t neglect your feet—cold feet can keep you awake!
- If you prefer to wear pajamas because they’re more comfortable, loose cotton pajamas are the best as they as a rule breathe more easily than other fabrics.
Sleep in varying positions. Changing your sleeping position can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. When you go to sleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night, make a conscious effort to follow these guidelines until it becomes habitual:
- Keep your body in a “mid-line” position, where both your head and neck are kept roughly straight. This should help you sleep.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. It’s difficult to maintain the proper position, and it is more likely to cause aches and pains. If you wish to sleep on your stomach, put your pillow under your hips instead of under your head.
Use a suitable pillow. If it’s too thin, your head will tilt backwards, which is uncomfortable. Likewise, don’t stack your pillows so that your head is propped at an angle.
- Try placing a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side. This will support your hips and make this position more comfortable.
- Try placing a pillow under your legs if you sleep on your back.
Reduce your light exposure an hour or two before going to bed. Bright light before bedtime can disrupt your body’s internal clock. It’s one of the primary clues to the body that it’s either sleep time, or waking time.
- If your home is brightly lit late at night, turn off lights you do not need.
- Stop watching TV and using a computer, tablet or phone at least 2 hours before bedtime. It is recommended to install f.lux or Redshift (if you use linux) onto your computer, which stops blue light from the screen damaging your sleep
- Eliminate all sources of light in your bedroom. This includes windows, LED clocks, computer lights, cable boxes, and other devices with lights (unless they’re very dim). You can cover them with heavy paper, cloth covers, masking tape, or just unplug them. Not only will you get a good night’s sleep, but you’ll also save electricity.
- If light still disturbs you or wakes you up in in the morning, wear an eye mask. Sometimes lavender eye “pillows” can be more relaxing.
Add gentle sounds. Use a white noise generator that generates various soothing sounds—surf, wind, steam—these are sounds that have no shape, and they can help your brain to de-focus on right now.
- White noise has been shown to not only help people fall asleep more quickly, but also it can disguise other noises that may wake you during the night.
- White noise or natural sound machines are often wonderful. But if you cannot afford one, a fan can make soothing noise. So can a radio tuned to “between stations”, where it creates static. Make sure that the radio isn’t too loud.
- Repetitive or ambient music is very good for falling asleep. What’s especially important is that there be no dramatic shifts in the dynamics of the music. Ambient music, such as that produced by Brian Eno, is ideal. Just be sure that the music stops or fades out in about an hour, or it could keep you from experiencing really deep sleep.
- Turn your phone off, or to silent mode (if you use its alarm), so you will not be disturbed with texts, phone calls, and notifications. If you know that you have to be somewhere go to bed earlier.
Method 2. Moderating Your Diet
Eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime. A full stomach may disrupt your sleep, and, the heavier the meal, the longer it takes for your stomach to settle down.
- Avoid greasy foods, as not only are they not good for you but tend to inhibit sleep.
- Avoid spicy foods. Some people thrive on heavily spiced foods, but if you find your aunt’s curry gives you a stomach-ache at night, seriously reconsider your dinner plans.
Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. A completely empty stomach may interfere with your sleeping patterns just as much as going to bed with a full stomach.
- If you find that your stomach is grumbling for food and is keeping you awake, eat a light snack about an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid foods high in carbohydrates or sugar.
- High protein foods like turkey, yogurt, soy beans, tuna, and peanuts contain tryptophan, which can help the body produce serotonin in order to relax. They also have natural, complex fats that can satiate your hunger.
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. This includes coffee, black teas, cocoa, and caffeinated soda. Caffeine can keep you awake even if you drank it earlier in the day, as its effects can last up to 12 hours. This also includes other stimulants like those found in energy drinks even if they are not caffeine.
- Avoid tobacco or other nicotine products in the evenings as well.
Drink a relaxing warm beverage. Highly recommended beverages include a warm glass of milk or chamomile tea. Most herbal teas are fine, as long as they do not contain any caffeine. Avoid drinking more than a few ounces of fluid directly before bedtime.
Avoid drinking water or other fluids within 1 ½ to 2 hours of your appointed bedtime. Ensure, though, that you drink at least two liters of water during the day.
- A well-hydrated body will not wake you from thirst, but drinking a big glass of water just before bed might wake you to go to the bathroom at an inconvenient hour.
Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol will make you feel sleepy, but it will also reduce the quality of your sleep as your body processes the alcohol and sugars. Alcohol tends to produce broken, shallow sleep (even if you don’t notice the periods of waking during the night), which does not refresh.
Method 3. Making Your Bed and Bedroom Welcoming
Use your bedroom for bedtime. If your body is used to doing all sorts of things in the room besides sleep it may not make a smooth transition to sleep when it is time. Your mind should associate your bedroom with sleep and perhaps soothing, relaxing activities.
- Avoid: stressful work or homework, using the computer, watching TV, talking on the phone, eating, exercising, and generally anything that is stressful, energizing, very exciting, or keeps you from going to sleep on time.
- Probably OK: reading, a relaxing project, cuddling with spouse, writing in journal.
- Use your bed ONLY for sleeping.
Make your bedroom a haven. The more comfortable your bed and bedroom are, the more conducive they are to a restful sleep.
- Keep your room completely dark while you sleep so you aren’t kept awake.
Clean your room. Get rid of the cobwebs, dust the shelves, vacuum the floor. Empty the wastepaper basket. Remove dirty plates, cups, and water-bottles. A clean room sets the emotional stage for your room being a safe, healthy place, not a neglected dumping-ground to wallow in. Also, regular cleaning can alleviate allergies which can disrupt sleep. It also keeps pests like mice, rats, and cockroaches from invading your space.
- Keep your bed clean. Wash the sheets and pillowcases every week, they smell great and you will feel more comfortable sleeping.
- Don’t clutter your room with things that can distract you from going to sleep. Tidy up. Throw out any rubbish and let fresh air in.
Beautify your room. An aesthetically pleasing room will make you happier than one that’s displeasing. You do not necessarily have to have your room be a page from the Ikea catalog. But simple changes, such as getting rid of an ugly bedspread or repainting your walls can subtly shift your mood.
- Make your room darker. Blackout drapes, shades, or blinds can avoid you awakening early.
- Make sure your sleep temperature is restful. If you are sweating or freezing, you will not sleep well.
Maintain your mattress. Replace it after five to seven years of regular use. If you feel springs or ridges beneath the surface when you’re lying on the bed, or you and your partner tend to roll over each other a lot at night (unintentionally), it’s time to go mattress shopping!
- You may also find that the mattress is to blame if you find yourself sleeping better in another bed.
Consider getting a new mattress. The newer types of mattresses that allow for adjustment or that mold around you may help you get a better night’s sleep.
- One type of mattress lets you adjust the firmness of your bed, individually, for both you and your partner. This is ideal if you can never agree on which mattress feels right. You may both have different needs, and trying to find one you will both like generally means finding a mattress that neither of you will get a good night’s sleep on.
- Another type of mattress uses memory foam, which moulds to the contours of your body as it warms up. This leaves no pressure points to cause numbness, irritation or other physical issues. This is especially useful for those with bad hips or other joints.
Method 4. Changing Your Daily Routine
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Varying your sleeping times by more than an hour can severely disrupt your sleep quality by breaking your circadian rhythm.
- Use the same sleep schedule even at weekends. Even if you have to go to bed later occasionally, still get up at your normal time.
- When your alarm clock goes off, get up right away every day. Don’t lie in or snooze.
Consider allowing less time for sleeping. Different people need different amounts of sleep. If you take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or often wake up for long periods during the night, you may be allowing too much time for sleep. You need deep, continuous sleep, even if it’s shorter, rather than shallow broken-up sleep.
- So, if you normally allow say 8 hours between bedtime and getting up, try reducing it by 15 minutes – by going to bed later or setting your alarm for earlier. You may be more tired for the first few days, but that will help you sleep.
- After a week, if you’re still not going to sleep quickly and staying asleep, reduce the sleep time by another 15 minutes.
- Continue reducing the sleep time by 15 minutes each week, until you are able to go to sleep quickly and stay asleep. (Waking up during the night is normal, as long as it’s only for a few minutes.)
- Then stick with this new bedtime and getting up time.
Develop a sleep routine. Try doing the same steps each night before you go to bed, to ready yourself for sleep. Consistency is the key. For a truly soothing evening, try the following steps:
- Put on some ambient music, and instead of incandescent lights, light several candles in your living room and in your bedroom.
- Practice breathing exercises (see below) or meditation, focusing on relaxing your body.
- When it’s time, extinguish the candles as you make your way to the bedroom. Your home will get progressively darker until the last candle is extinguished.
Try deep breathing relaxation before bed. Find a comfortable position. Make sure your environment is relaxed. Not much light, calm music and a space where you know you will not be interrupted are ideal.
- Clear your mind. Close your eyes and imagine all those problems that you keep in your mind everyday fading out with each breath.
- Pull in the positive. Inhale positive images that makes you happy. While you do this keep, smile.
- Focus on your breath. Feel the oxygen within your body. You should start feeling a relaxing sensation across your body and mind.
- Try to maintain this for 10 minutes every night before going to sleep.
- You could even add a few drops of lavender oil onto your pillow, which calms the nerves and helps you sleep.
- Your mind wanders of throughout the day, these breathing exercises will help your mind and body to relax and keep your mind in one place to you feel the calm in your body.
Exercise regularly. If you have a sedentary job, a lack of physical exertion may contribute to reducing the quality of your sleep. The human body uses sleep to repair and recover. If there isn’t much from which to recover, your body’s sleep cycle could be disrupted.
- Physical exertion (such as going for a run or a swim, or better yet, exercising regularly) can make for deeper and more restful sleep. To add more exercise to your day, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of catching the bus, and so forth.
- Don’t exercise less than 2 hours before bedtime. Exercise can greatly enhance and promote sleep. However, your body will be “revved up” some time after your workout. (The one possible exception may be gentle yoga).
Consider taking a nap. For some people (depending on work and your daily routine), a short rest in the afternoon can help alleviate drowsiness experienced during the day. Though naps are not for everyone – many people feel even drowsier after a nap.
- When you feel the need for a nap (should your job allow), set your timer for 15 minutes. If you’re ready for a nap, you’ll be asleep in a minute or two. When the timer goes off, get up immediately! Have a glass of water, and jump back into work. You will feel much more refreshed—–even more so than if you had slept for an hour.
Method 5. Using Medication for Better Sleep
Try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. The pineal actively converts serotonin to melatonin when it is dark, but when light is present it does not do so, and the melatonin oxidizes back into serotonin.
- Consult with your physician about taking melatonin. Taking in the melatonin pills is a natural way to induce sleep, especially if you are physically tired at night but are still unable to fall asleep. However keep in mind melatonin is a hormone (like estrogen or testosterone) and just because it is natural does not necessarily mean harmless.
Try plain antihistamine products that cause drowsiness. These are safe when taken “without extra ingredients”—–i.e. no pain relievers, decongestant, expectorant, etc., but only for a night or two, as tolerance to them quickly builds.
- Read the labels. Try half or less of the usual dose so that you don’t end up with a “sleeping pill hangover,” which will only make your sleep situation worse.
- Be lying down in bed when your drowsiness kicks in.
- If you use prescription drugs, advise with your doctor before taking anything else. Never thoughtlessly mix medications: with the wrong combination, you could end up mixing medications the way that will do you harm.
- Be sure not to abuse any sedative. Do not take those in more than the prescribed dosage, neither beyond the recommended duration.
Tell your doctor if you are concerned that you might have a sleep disorder. Some of the most common sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy and parasomnias. If you are indeed suffering from and are diagnosed with any of these conditions, your doctor will recommend treatment accordingly.
- Anxiety, depression, PMS, and some medications can cause difficulty sleeping and should be addressed.
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