33 Tips and Tricks for a Better Night's Sleep
About 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems.
Sleep is essential to your health.
Sleep deprivation can have many adverse mental, physical, and emotional effects.
But, despite it's importance, there are 7-19% of adults who don't get enough sleep.
If you're one of them, this article is for you.
We've compiled 33 of the best sleep tips to empower you for a better night's sleep. Our sleeping tips and tricks are broken down into the core areas of sleep which include light pollution, food, habits, supplements, your sleep environment, mindfulness (mental health), and seeking professional advice.
All of these tips to sleep better are backed by research and studies to be proven effective.
Light for Better Sleep
Light can either hurt or help your sleep schedule. While sunshine can help you sleep, blue light can hinder your sleep routine. Light can either be one of the ways to improve sleep or be a key part of bad sleeping habits.
#1. Enjoy More Sunshine!
Sunlight is a key piece of having a healthy circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). When you get the recommended 20-30 minutes of sun exposure, your body is better able to produce melatonin when it's time to sleep. This helps you fall asleep faster and not wake through the night.
A 2021 study found a direct correlation to better circadian rhythm alignment, sleep, and mental health. The study controlled sun exposure of 20 participants via tinted windows and found they experienced a stronger circadian rhythm, improved sleep and sleep patterns, and better mental health when exposed to more daylight.
If you suffer from insomnia, getting enough daily sunlight or artificial bright light is especially important. And if you can't get outside, specialized light therapy lamps mimic sunlight that helps you sleep.
#2. Put Away the Technology - 2 Hours Before Bed
Studies have found that 90% of Americans use an electronic device in bed within an hour of trying to sleep. This is bad sleep etiquette given electronic devices emit blue light which suppresses melatonin production. This can lead to melatonin deficiency.
One study found that using blue-light blocking glasses effectively reduced insomnia while improving sleep time and quality.
There are several ways to reduce blue light exposure in the evening:
- Wear glasses that block blue light
- Stop watching TV
- And turn off any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
It's always a best practice to stay away from blue light for your sleep. Blue light exposure is only good for you during wake hours.
Food Tips for Better Sleep
We rarely think about the effects food has on our sleep. In reality, food can play a significant role in our sleep patterns. We've broken down foods that help you sleep and foods that keep you awake to get better sleep.
#3. Ditch Late Dinner and Midnight Snacks
Is it bad to eat before bed?
Yes, eating before bed can have adverse effects on your sleep, and for a few reasons:
- It prompts the release of insulin: Insulin is a hormone that aids in converting food into energy. By eating late, you prompt the production of insulin which can throw off your sleep-wake cycle.
- It can cause acid reflux which can contribute so insomnia: Laying down shortly after you've eaten can shift the contents of your stomach to reflux into the esophagus which can cause nighttime heatburn.
- You force your digestive muscles to keep working: When these muscles are working rather than relaxing, it can delay your ability to fall asleep.
For a better night's sleep, try to stop eating at least two hours before bedtime. To prevent late night cravings, ensure you're eating an adequate amount earlier in the day. Try to eat breakfast within one to two hours of waking and be aware of your hunger throughout the day.
#4. Don't Drink Any Liquids Before Bed
While yes, it's important to stay hydrated throughout the day, it's important to lower your liquid intake before bed. Drinking fluids before bed can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night because you have to pee. This can throw off your sleep-cycle and even lead to insomnia.
Much like eating, it's best to limit your liquid intake at least two hours before bedtime.
#5. Say Goodbye to Caffeine at Night
Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can make it harder to fall asleep when consumed later in the evening. One study found it to delay your circadian rhythm. Another study found that consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by one hour. These results are shown to be stronger in older adults as their bodies take longer to process caffeine.
#6. Don't Whine Down with Wine (or any other alcohol)
A common misconception is that alcohol is a great sleep trick.
However, while alcohol may make you feel sleepy, it does hurt your ability to get a deep sleep.
A 27 study review found alcohol to reduce sleep quality. The research showed that alcohol does allow healthy individuals to fall asleep quicker but it also reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. And disruptions in REM sleep can cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and overall poor sleep.
#7. No Spice at Night
Studies have shown that spicy foods can hinder sleep quality, and for two reasons:
- They can cause indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux: These conditions can prevent you from falling and staying asleep.
- They can raise your body temperature: Elevated body temperatures have been linked to sleep disturbances.
#8. Eat Fish
Fish contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase melatonin production, the sleep-regulating hormone.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania found a link between fish intake and good sleep. Researchers questioned 541 children in China about their eating habits and sleep patterns. They found that those who consumed more fish had better sleep and, as a result, higher IQ levels.
If you don't want to eat fish, try fish oil supplements for better sleep habits.
#9. Enjoy a Glass of Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice contains chemicals like procyanidins and anthocyanins, which are known to be sleep-inducing.
You can add about 84 minutes of sleep just by drinking some cherry juice, according to a study from 2018.
Want to sleep better? Try adding cherry juice to your list of foods to eat before bed.
#10. Eat a Banana
Studies show that by eating a banana before bed, you might be able to fall asleep faster. This makes it a great food to make you sleepy.
Bananas are an excellent source of good sleep, and for a few reasons:
- Potassium: This mineral serves as a muscle relaxant, which can help your body fall asleep. A single large banana has 487 mg of potassium, which is 10% of an adult's healthy daily intake.
- Magnesium: This mineral is another muscle relaxant that helps you fall asleep. A single large banana contains 37 mg of magnesium which is 12% of a healthy intake for women and 9% for men.
- Tryptophan and Melatonin: Both of these aid in better sleep as tryptophan converts to serotonin (which converts later into melatonin).
#11. Stop Smoking
Nicotine, because it's a stimulant, can inhibit sleep patterns and cause insomnia. It raises heart rate and increases alertness which is not conducive to falling asleep.
Studies have found that smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake up more frequently, sleep less, and have less deep sleep. Not only does smoking cause insomnia, it increases the risk of sleep apnea and snoring.
Routine Habits for Better Sleep
This section of better sleeping tips focuses on your habits. Maintaining good sleep habits is vital to your sleep. Keep a routine so you fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and wake up feeling rested.
#12. Keep Naps Short and On-Time
If you have trouble sleeping at night, stop napping or shorten your naps as long time irregular naps can affect sleep at night. Keep power naps at a maximum of 30 minutes to keep your circadian rhythm from being hindered.
The benefits of napping can help keep you awake and energized, but they can also hurt your sleep pattern. It's always a good sleep habit to be cautious of taking naps during the day. Do not nap after 3 PM as this can cause sleep disruptions.
#13. Keep Bed Time and Wake Time Consistent
In order to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, it's important to keep your sleep-wake time consistent (even on the weekends).
This allows your body to produce essential hormones such as melatonin and serotonin at the right time. Having an inconsistent sleep schedule can cause conditions such as circadian rhythm disorder.
#14. Keep an Alarm
Setting an alarm to remind you when it is time to wind down is a great way to start a bedtime routine.
#15. Turn the Alarm Away from You
Staring at the clock can make falling asleep more difficult; not watching the minutes go by will help you destress.
Supplements for Better Sleep (consult with your doctor before trying these methods)
Of all the sleep better tips we offer, supplements are by far the easiest as they can be taken right before bed to induce sleep.
#16. Mmm Melatonin
Melatonin is an essential sleep hormone that tells your brain when it's time to relax and head to bed. Taking melatonin for sleep can give you a boost in the essential hormone. You can also add melatonin foods such as fish, eggs, and even milk.
#17. Sleep Supplements
Several supplements, including lavender and magnesium, can help with relaxation and sleep.
Environment for Better Sleep
Even the best tips to sleep better will have no effect if your sleep environment isn't adequate. A poor bedroom can significantly hinder sleep quality. In this section, we break down a few ways to create the ultimate sleep surroundings including the optimal sleeping temperature, noise machines, and more.
#18. Make Your Bedroom an Oasis
When it comes to sleep, the environment you're sleeping in matters. Research has found that "social features of environments, family, social cohesion, safety, noise, and neighborhood disorder can shape and/or impact sleep patterns."
Additionally, "physical features such as light, noise, traffic, pollution, and walkability can also influence sleep and is related to sleep disorders among adults and children."
When thinking of your sleeping environment, is it relaxing? Does it promote warm feelings of comfort and peace? Not only that, but is it quiet?
Work on creating a sleeping environment that allows you to unwind and drift away from stress and other negative emotions.
#19. Set Your Sleeping Temperature at 65-70°F
A 2012 study found sleeping temperature to be one of the most important factors of getting a good night's sleep. Another study looked at 765,000 survey respondents and found most experience abnormal sleep patterns during warmer months.
Having the right room temperature is important to sleep quality. When your room is too hot, you may experience restless sleep as it can decrease your slow wave sleep or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
On the other hand, sleeping in an environment that's too cold can hinder your ability to fall asleep. A 2012 study observed semi-nude participants and found their sleep was more adversely affected by cold temperatures than warm.
Research has found the ideal sleep temperature to be 65-70°F. This range matches with your body's internal temperature shifts as it gets colder around bedtime and continues to drop throughout the night.
#20. Crack Open a Window or Door
Sleeping with your window open offers some health benefits.
A 2017 study found those who slept with windows open experienced better sleep quality.
The science behind this lies in the ventilation of air. If you're room is closed off, it can create a warm and stuffy environment. And as mentioned in the tip before, room temperature is important to sleep quality.
Additionally, allowing ventilation in your room reduces the amount of pollutants and carbon dioxide in the air. This makes it easier to breathe.
#21. Splurge on a Comfortable Bed, Mattress, Pillow, and Sheets
Pain and sleep don't mix, making your mattress and pillows of great importance.
When choosing your sleeping aids, try not to go cheap. Make sure you choose a mattress that suites your sleep style and needs (isn't too firm/soft, is a good size, and has materials that are comfortable).
When it comes to pillows, support is crucial. If you sleep on your back, a thinner pillow is ideal.
Another option to consider are therapeutic pillows such as wedge pillows and knee pillows. These sleep aids are specially designed to reduce pressure, improve circulation, and promote proper sleep posture. If you constantly wake up in pain, these might help.
When choosing sheets, be considerate of two things: temperature and materials.
Choose sheets that will allow you to keep a comfortable body temperature and won't trap too much heat or keep you cold. It might be worth investing in multiple sheets and blankets that are for each season.
When considering the materials, be sure to feel them before purchasing (if possible). This will allow you to get an idea if it's going to be comfortable to sleep on.
As a best practice, try to buy your bedding and mattress every 5-8 years.
#22. Sleep with a Weighted Blanket
Did you know weighted blankets promote relaxation and better sleep? Studies show that 63% of people who used a weighted blanket had lower anxiety after one use.
The weight of the blanket mimics the sensation of being held which is known as deep pressure stimulation. The added weight relaxes the nervous system to relieve pain, anxiety, and restlessness and increase happiness and focus.
#23. Focus on a Good Sleep Posture & Position
Your sleep position is important to both your sleep quality and physical health.
Poor sleep posture can put pressure on your body and decrease blood circulation which can cause pain.
Studies have found the best position to sleep in is on your back. This position neutralizes your head, neck, and spine which reduces pressure.
Sleeping on your side, in the fetal position, or with your legs up are also healthy.
The worst possible position to sleep in is on your stomach. This position puts a strain on your muscles and joints and can bring your spine out of alignment.
The ideal sleep position is one that will allow you to sleep comfortably and keep your body in a position that allows blood to circulate, your spine to align, and breathing to remain unobstructed.
#24. Cozy Socks, Anyone?
Did you know the warmer the feet, the faster you will fall asleep? Dilation of blood vessels in the skin is the best predictor for rapid onset of sleep.
One study found wearing socks to bed while in a cold environment:
- Reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep
- Increased sleep time
- And reduced awakenings during sleep
The study also found the socks had no influence on core body temperatures of the subjects.
If you have trouble with sleep, try wearing socks to bed to see if it helps.
#25. White Noise Machine
If even the smallest of noises keep you from sleeping, consider a white noise machine.
These machines use a process called "sound masking" or "noise masking" to create a blanket of sound around you. This absorbs other sound waves to prevent smaller noises from alerting your brain.
Another reason white noise machines work is they create a sleep ritual. When you turn on your white noise machine, you condition your brain to know it's time to go to sleep.
#26. Leave Your Pets Off the Bed
This one might hurt, but having your pets not sleep in your bed will allow you to regulate your sleep pattern. Less disruptions = more sleep.
Mindful Wellness for Better Sleep
Keeping your wellness in check can aid in sleep. Negative thoughts can keep your mind racing and keep you from getting a restful night's sleep. Try these wellness tips for better sleep.
#27. Relax and Clear Your Mind
Relaxation techniques before bed, including hot baths and meditation, may help you fall asleep.
Stress and sleep do not mix. A review of 63 articles found experimental stress to:
- Decrease slow wave sleep
- Decrease REM sleep
- Reduce sleep efficiency
- And increase mid-sleep awakenings
To summarize: stress is a sleep killer.
If you find yourself stressed during the day, try relaxation techniques before bed. These include, but are not limited to:
- Hot baths
- Breathing exercises
#28. Enjoy a Nice Warm Bath
If you have trouble falling asleep fast, researchers suggest taking a hot bath.
A study found hot baths 90 minutes before bed possibly aid in falling asleep quicker. It's thought that the hot water aids in changing your core temperature so you go to sleep with a lower temperatures. This drop signals to your body that it's time to sleep.
#29. Make Exercise a Routine
30 minutes of exercise during daylight hours is one of the most effective methods of boosting sleep quality. Both go hand-in-hand, and for a few reasons:
- Boosted melatonin production: Exercise gives your body a boost in serotonin which later converts to melatonin when it's time to sleep. Having adequate levels of melatonin is vital to falling asleep fast and getting a deeper rest.
- Stabilized moods and decompressed thoughts: As mentioned prior, sleep and stress don't mix. Exercise offers an avenue of stress relief to regulate moods and decompress negative thoughts.
- Increased slow wave sleep: It's been found that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. This is the stage of deep sleep where your brain and body get a chance to rejuvenate.
- Raised body temperature: Exercise can have the same effect of taking a hot bath. The elevation in your body temperature signals to your clock that it's time to be awake. After 30-90 minutes, it starts to fall which can help facilitate sleepiness.
It's important to exercise during daylight hours. Exercising too late can hinder sleep as endorphins are released which signal your body to be awake.
#30. Meditation for the Win
Mindfulness meditation is the act of directing your breathing and thought to the present moment and away from the past or future.
A study published by Harvard has found that 20 minutes of meditation each day promotes feelings of relaxation in addition to combatting insomnia and improving sleep.
Meditation before sleep can calm your nerves, clear your head, and allow you to fall asleep quickly without letting your thoughts wander.
#31. Yoga for Better Sleep
Just like meditation, taking a yoga class will allow you to relax and ultimately enjoy a better night's sleep. Yoga for sleep can relax your body and soothe your mind, making it a healthy sleep habit.
In a 12-week study, men and women participated in two-weekly yoga in addition to daily home sessions. The group experienced major improvements in sleep quality, duration, and efficiency.
#32. Stay Positive
Gratitude, in general, is great for overall health. But the benefits transfer over to sleep quality as well.
One study involving 401 participants found gratitude to predict greater sleep quality and duration with less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction.
More gratitude equates to less stress which means better sleep. Try to incorporate gratitude into your daily routines. This can include:
- Write down 3-5 things every evening that you're thankful for.
- Take a few minutes to let someone know you appreciate them.
Speak to Your Doctor
#33. Rule Out Any Sleep Disorder's Sleep Disorder
Speak to your doctor if sleep is a consistent problem. There are many conditions, including sleep apnea, that can cause poor sleep.
About the Author
Bianca Araujo-Mendez is the Director of Brand & Shopper Marketing at Compass Health Brands. She enjoys all things marketing and appreciates knowing the lives of others are enriched when using products from Compass Health Brands.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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