Sleep is essential. It gives our bodies a chance to rest, recharge, and get ready for the next day.
Sleep is also important for our physical health and allows our organs to heal and repair, improving their ability to function properly. When you don't get enough sleep, you are putting yourself at an increase risk of different health issues including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
If you're having trouble getting enough sleep at night, it can be very frustrating. Laying awake in bed and watching the time on the clock get closer and closer to the time you need to get up is maddening. You want so desperately to sleep, but just can't seem to make it happen.
If you're experiencing trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping comfortably, you've come to the right place. We've compiled a list of 10 things you can start doing right now to help you get better sleep at night. Read through our list and identify a few key changes you need to put in place to start getting the sleep you so badly need and deserve.
Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Creating a consistent sleep schedule can be instrumental in helping you get the sleep you need. An irregular sleep schedule where your bedtime and/or wake time fluctuates greatly day to day can throw off your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin. These are signals your body uses to let your brain know it is time to sleep, so when they are thrown off, it will be more challenging for your body to get sleep.
Conversely, setting a consistent bedtime and wake time will let help align your circadian rhythm and increase your levels of melatonin at nighttime. This will send your brain the necessary signals to let it know that it is time to sleep.
It is tempting to stay up later and sleep in on the weekends, but this can really throw off your schedule. Try to alter your schedule by no more than one hour on the weekends, and you'll likely see an improvement in your sleep.
It is recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep. Keep this in mind when developing a sleep schedule that will work for you.
Another thing you can do to help your body know it is time to sleep is to develop a consistent bedtime routine. Try to do the same thing before bed each night to send signals to your brain that it is almost time to go to sleep. This may involve reading a book, writing in your journal, taking a relaxing bath, stretching, or meditating.
Engage in Daily Exercise
Engaging in regular exercise can also make it easier to fall asleep and improve the quality of the sleep you get.
When developing an exercise schedule, keep in mind that mornings or afternoons are the best time to exercise. Exercising too close to bedtime could actually have a negative impact on your sleep since exercise stimulates your body, makes you more alert, and increases your adrenaline.
When you exercise, it raises your body temperature. As your temperature drops back down, it can make you sleepier. It may take around four hours for your temperature to drop back down, which is one of the reasons you want to avoid exercising right before bed.
Don't feel like you have to workout for two hours every day to experience the benefits of exercise related to sleep. Finding just 30 minutes each day to perform aerobic exercises is typically enough to help you experience a noticeable different in your sleep quality.
Regular exercise can also help decrease the amount of stress you're experiencing, which could be another contributing factor for your poor sleep. Giving your body the opportunity to alleviate some of the stress you're feeling through exercise could make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Create the Right Environment for Sleep
Ensuring that your space is conducive to helping you get a good night's sleep is also important. There are a few key components to keep in mind when creating a room that will help you sleep. These include managing the temperature, light, noise, and arrangement of your space.
If your room is too cold or too warm, you will likely find it challenging to sleep. A cool, but not too cold, room is recommended for ideal sleep. Many sleep experts suggest keeping your room between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit overnight. Cooler rooms can help improve sleep since decreases in body temperature help our brains know that it is time to go to sleep.
Sleeping in a cool room also offers other health benefits for your body. Sleeping well reduces the amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is our body's stress hormone, so when it is reduced, we are less likely to eat unhealthy foods, which can help people lose weight.
There has also been a link shown between sleeping in a cool environment and prevent diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Participants in the study that found this link were able to burn more calories when they were awake and increase their levels of good fate, helping their body store fewer calories.
When you sleep in a cool room (and especially a cool bed), our bodies are able to release melatonin. Melatonin is one of the anti-aging hormones. So, when you sleep in a cool room, you are also helping maintain a more youthful appearance.
In addition to setting the right temperature for sleep, you also want to control the amount of light in your bedroom. Too much light in your space can decrease the melatonin produced by your body, which can keep you up or prevent you from sleeping soundly.
Take steps to decrease the amount of light in your room and make it as dark as possible. You can look for blackout curtains or shades that will block more light coming from outside than standard blinds or curtains.
You should also look for other sources of light in your room that may be impacting your sleep. Look for bright lights on your clock or other electronic devices, and do what you can to turn off or cover up these lights. If you sleep with the TV on, you should seriously consider stopping this habit since it lets a lot of light (and noise) into your room that may be having a negative impact on the sleep you get.
When you sleep in a very quiet environment, you'll be able to sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more rested. Limiting the noise in your space will be another important step to take to help you get the sleep your body needs.
Again, if you sleep with the TV on, you'll want to start turning it off. Even if you're able to sleep through the noise it makes, you likely aren't sleeping as well as you could be without any background noise.
If you live near a busy road, have a partner that snores, or there are other noises in your bedroom that you can't control, you may want to consider purchasing a pair of earplugs. You can also consider purchasing a white noise machine, which can help drown out sounds to help you sleep.
Finally, consider the layout and arrangement of your space. If your room is overly cluttered, it could actually be having a negative impact on your sleep. Studies have shown that people who sleep in more cluttered spaces are more likely to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. They may also be more likely to have a sleep disorder.
Choose more neutral and calming colors when painting the walls in your bedroom, choosing bedding, and adding artwork to your space. Vibrant colors will make it more challenging for your body to relax and get ready for sleep.
When possible, try to position your bed away from the windows in your room. This will make it less likely that light from outside will keep you up or cause you to wake up.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable in Your Bed
No one likes sleeping on an uncomfortable bed. Making sure that your bed and bedding are as comfortable as possible can help you sleep better and feel more rested when you wake up. If you wake up with back or neck pain, making some changes could help you find the relief you've been looking for as well.
The biggest change you may need to make is to purchase a new mattress. If your current mattress is too old, too hard, or too soft, it likely isn't providing you with comfort or support you need to get a good night's sleep.
One mattress type you may want to consider purchasing is a memory foam mattress. Memory foam mattresses are designed to conform to the shape of your body. This can reduce the pressure placed on your spine and keep your body aligned when you sleep. You'll be less likely to wake up in pain when your body is better aligned during sleep.
Memory foam mattresses are also a good option to consider if you suffer from allergies. Since they are made using polyurethane foam, dust mites aren't able to accumulate in them as they do in standard mattresses.
If you sleep with a partner, a memory foam mattress could help both of you get a better night's sleep. Memory foam absorbs movements, which means you'll be less impacted when your partner tosses or turns in bed.
Another type of mattress you might want to consider is a smart mattress. Smart mattresses include a number of features designed to help keep you comfortable as you sleep and track your sleep habits.
One of the nice features of a smart mattress is the ability to control the climate. Many smart mattresses will let you create dual climate zones, so both you and your partner can heat or cool your side of the bed to the ideal temperature to keep you comfortable when you sleep. This can be an especially good solution if you and your partner can never seem to agree on a comfortable room temperature or how many blankets to have on the bed when one of you is always hot, and the other is always cold.
With a smart mattress, you can track the sleep you get and identify any areas of concern. Smart mattresses can connect to an app, where you'll be able to view information about what time you feel asleep and how much you moved around in your sleep. You may also be able to view information related to your heart rates, breathing rate, and amount of time in REM sleep.
Smart mattresses can also be integrated with the other smart devices in your home. You can connect it to virtual assistants and use these devices to control the mattress or ask questions related to your sleep the previous night.
After ensuring that the mattress in your room will meet your needs and keep you comfortable, you will want to look at your other bedding items. Make sure you have a soft and comfortable pair of sheets. Consider the materials they are made from to confirm they aren't irritating your skin or making you uncomfortable when you sleep.
A comfortable pillow is another item that is critical for sleeping well each night. You want to find an option that helps you feel supported.
Think about whether you sleep on your side, you back, or your stomach. There are different pillows designed for different sleepers. Choosing a model that is designed to support your preferred sleep position can help keep you more comfortable and contribute to you sleep better at night.
You may want to consider getting a memory foam pillow. Since a memory foam pillow will conform to the shape of your head and neck, it will be better able to deliver the support you need to stay comfortable at night. The memory foam will also stop your head from sinking too deep into the pillow, which can help distribute your weight more evenly and alleviate the strain placed on your neck.
In addition to selecting a comfortable pillow for your head, you should also think about buying a full body pillow. Body pillows are a great way to keep your body more aligned as you sleep and ensure that your body's weight is evenly distributed. This can help reduce any back or neck pain you may be experiencing when you wake up in the morning.
A final accessory to consider adding to your bed is a bed fan. A bed fan designed to keep you comfortable and cool when you sleep. Many bed fans also have a warming setting to warm you up on the cold nights.
If you and your partner aren't in agreement about how cool or warm your bedroom should be, a bed fan can help you each set your side of the bed to the right temperature to keep you comfortable. If you'd like a smart mattress, but can't quite afford one right now, a bed fan is a good compromise since it also offers the climate control features that come with smart mattresses.
Manage Your Circadian Rhythms
Your circadian rhythm is your body's internal clock. It helps you know when to be alert and when to be drowsy and sleep. Most people are naturally sleepier in the early morning hours and after lunch, and are more awake at others times during the day, but there are other factors that may have an impact on your circadian rhythm. There are things you can do to control some of these factors to help your body develop a circadian rhythm that will support you falling asleep more easily and sleeping soundly through the night.
Increase your exposure to bright lights during the day will help your body know it is time to be awake. This will give you a boost of energy during the day and can help you sleep better at night.
Natural sunlight is the best bright light you can expose yourself to, so spending a few hours outside each day can be very beneficial. If it isn't possible or practical for you to spend that much time outside each day, look at buying an artificial light that mimics the natural light created by the sun.
In addition to increasing your exposure to bright light during the day, you will also want to decrease your exposure to bright lights, particularly blue lights, during the evening and at night. Too much light exposure can make your brain think that it is daytime, which will keep you up and decrease your body's production of melatonin.
Blue light, which is given off by smartphones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices can be even more detrimental to your sleep health. When possible, try to stop using your electronic devices about two hours before you plan to go to sleep.
If it isn't possible to cut out the use of electronics during this time, there are apps you can download to block blue lights or settings you can adjust on your computer. You can also find glasses that are designed to block blue light from hitting your eyes.
Avoid Things That Will Keep You Awake at Night
Avoiding things that have been shown to make it more challenging for people to fall asleep is also a good idea. One thing you will want to avoid is caffeine.
Drinking caffeine in the morning or early afternoon should be fine, but stay away from it at least six hours before you are planning to head to bed. If you want a cup of coffee or tea later in the day, choose a decaffeinated option.
When you eat too large of a meal in the evening, it may also impact your body's ability to get the sleep it needs. Large meals may cause discomfort or indigestion that could keep you awake. Try to finish eating at least two to three hours before you want to go to bed. If you're hungry closer to bedtime, choose a small snack about an hour before heading to bed.
Alcohol consumption can also have a negative impact on your sleep. It can alter your body's production of melatonin and sometimes even increase symptoms associated with snoring or sleep apnea. If you've been having trouble sleeping, it may be time to take a break from alcohol and see if you notice any improvements.
Another thing you should avoid is taking a long nap during the day or napping too late. A short cat nap can increase your productivity and alertness, but longer naps have the opposite effect. They can actually make you feel sleepier during the day and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
When you're feeling stressed, it can have a negative impact on your sleep. Keeping your stress under control may be as simple as starting a nightly journal or diary where you write about what is on your mind and can set it aside to look at the next day.
Another tip is trying to avoid checking your work email account after dinner. Seeing an email that you need to address the next day, a negative message from your boss or a client, or something else stressful could cause you anxiety and make it more difficult for you to get a good night's sleep. Whenever possible, give yourself a break from work before bed so you don't read something that will impact your ability to get sleep.
Depending on your level of stress of anxiety, you may also find it beneficial to reach out to a therapist. If you consistently feel weighed down by different stressors, finding someone who is experienced with helping people talk through their concerns and find resolution could be very helpful.
Give your Body Time to Wind Down and Relax
Trying to go to bed immediately following a very stimulating activity is a good way to set yourself up for failure. Giving your body some time to relax and wind down will make it more likely that you'll be able to fall asleep quickly once you do go to bed. Try to set aside about an hour to let your body know that bedtime is approaching.
Consider a quiet and non-stimulating task such as reading a book, working on a craft, or sitting out on your porch to work on a crossword puzzle. Try to avoid taking out your phone, tablet, or laptop, since the blue light from the screen may stimulate your brain and stop it from getting the message that bedtime is nearing.
Consider Trying Melatonin or Other Supplements
Some people find melatonin and other supplements to be very helpful. Taking melatonin before you go to bed may help you fall asleep more quickly, improve the quality of sleep you get, and help you wake up with more energy.
In addition to melatonin, there are other supplements that you can consider that have been shown to help many people relax and get better sleep. Some of these supplements include lavender, magnesium, glycine, ginkgo biloba, valerian root, and L-theanine.
If you are going to try a supplement to help you sleep, it is important to only try one at a time. You can also consult with your doctor to get their opinions and recommendations for the best supplement for you to try. Sleep supplements will have the greatest impact on your sleep when you use them along with some of the other recommendations we've offered.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you've tried some of the suggestions we shared, and you're still having trouble sleeping, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. They may have additional suggestions or may decide it is time to schedule a sleep test to rule out any sleep disorders.
If you have a sleep disorder, your doctor should be able to provide you with a prescription, supplements, CPAP machine, or offer other recommendations to help improve the quantity and quality of sleep you get each night.
Sleep is so important for our bodies. If you aren't getting the sleep you need each night, we hope that our article has provided you with some insight and inspiration to make some changes to improve your sleep.