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24 Tips to Sleep Better at Night


Sleeping better at night is important. Studies show that losing just 90 minutes of sleep in one night can reduce daytime alertness by one-third.

However, regardless of the gravity of a good night’s sleep, it’s not something we often focus on.  Last month I wanted to change that for myself, so I started researching how I could sleep better.

In no particular order, here are 24 tips that may help you sleep better at night: 


1. Pick A Song For Your Alarm  


You need an ‘alarm’ sound that wakes you up, but you don’t need a sound so loud and annoying that you’re jolted right off the wrong side of the bed. 

In fact, studies show that you don’t need an alarm sound at all; it turns out music is a better alternative.

But not all songs are created equally. The song you choose to wake up should start with a slow pace and build, it should be positive, and it should have a beat.

If you want song suggestions, and to get a bit more detail about the type of songs that work best, check out this article from Emi Boscamp. From Emi’s list of 20 songs, I choose Viva la Vida by Coldplay. 

You can easily change your phone alarm settings so that it plays a song instead of a sound, and if you have a smart speaker, you can just say something like “ Hey Alexa, please set an alarm for tomorrow at 7:30 am with Viva la Vida by Coldplay.” 


2. Try to Give Yourself At Least Six Caffeine-Free Hours Before Bed 


Generally speaking, to sleep better at night, you should give yourself at least six caffeine-free hours before bed. Some will need more and some may need less. It seems to vary from person to person. 

Remember, caffeine isn’t only in coffee. To lesser, but not insignificant amounts, pop, tea, and chocolate have caffeine too.   

Another caffeine-related tip to keep in mind is that nutritionists recommend that you give yourself a few caffeine-free hours in the morning. In the morning, when your body floods itself with the stress hormone cortisol, and since a strong cup of coffee also floods the system with cortisol, the few hours after waking up and drinking coffee can be a dramatic, nap-inducing shift in your cortisol levels. 

So if you wake up from 6:00 – 8:00, try to drink your first cup between 9:00 – 11:00.


3. Limit Alcohol Before Bed 


Although alcohol can help you pass out, it is associated with more frequent awakenings, night sweats, nightmares, headaches, and less-restful sleep. 

To sleep better at night, it is best to avoid alcohol for at least 4 hours before bedtime. That being said, having a few cocktails a few nights a week is unlikely to affect you too much.

To put it simply, the more alcohol you consume, and the closer it is to bedtime, the more it will negatively affect your sleep.  As far as binge drinking is concerned, studies show that it can affect your melatonin production for several days. 


4. Maybe Use Essential Oils


As far as the relationship between essential oils and sleep is concerned, research has shown that essential oils can improve sleep quality in adults, they’ve also been shown to indirectly help sleep by relieving stress and anxiety.

Lavender is the most popular and researched essential oil. Along with research about lavender’s effect on improving sleep quality and the speed of which you fall asleep, lavender has also been shown to help with anxiety, depression, and pain relief. 

However, if you are looking for an essential oil to help you sleep, and you dislike the smell of lavender, you can also use vanilla, rose geranium, jasmine, or citrus essential oils to help you sleep. More on the effects of these other oils here.


HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS:


Diffusers: Diffusers create a fragrant mist out of a mixture of water and a few drops of essential oil. Check out Amazon’s Top-Selling diffusers here

Spray Bottle: Instead of using a diffuser, you can simply add a few drops of oil to a spray bottle and give your room a good spray. Check out Amazon’s Top-Selling spray bottles here

Bath: Some people also love a few drops of essential oil in their bath. 

Links To Essential Oils: LavenderVanillaRose GeraniumJasmineCitrus

Disclaimer: 

  • If you have any known health issues, I would search how specific types of essential oils interact with your issues. Also, you can’t go wrong by consulting with your doctor.
  • I am not an essential oil expert – and I haven’t even attempted to analyze the studies I have linked to above. Please conduct your own research before using essential oils!

5. Exercise 


Exercise is associated with falling asleep faster and having a more restful sleep. Win, win.

And it doesn’t take that much exercise to start seeing some sleep benefits. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day will boost the quality of your sleep.

One caveat to leveraging exercise for a better night’s rest is that exercising too late in the day can keep you up. The way this works is that endorphins produced from exercising stimulate your body and make it harder to fall asleep. 

As a rule of thumb for sleeping better at night, try to avoid vigorous exercise one hour before bedtime.


6. Create A Consistent Wake Up and Bed Time


To sleep better at night, it’s important to keep roughly the same sleep and wake times each day. 

Our circadian rhythm is extremely sensitive. It only takes a few nights of staying up late to shift your circadian rhythm later, and it only takes a few early mornings to shift it earlier. This is why it doesn’t take long to get used to a new timezone.

The danger of this phenomenon is that irregularities in your sleep schedule can easily cause the loss of a few hours sleep. If you get used to going to bed later because of a busy week, and your bedtime shifts a few hours later, you still have to wake up at the same time every morning for work and you will just lose those few hours of sleep every night.

Although a few hours of lost sleep may not feel like a big deal, research shows that sleep deprivation leads to more snacking, negative metabolic changes, worsened productivity, lower work and school performance, less intense workouts, and more. 

You may try to make up for lost sleep by sleeping in on the weekend, but make sure you don’t throw off your circadian rhythm, morning sunlight is extremely important to your rhythm. More on this subject here.


7. Dimmer Lights 2-3 Hours Before Bed


It’s not only light while you sleep that will affect your sleep. In the hours before sleep, the blue light from your screens and bedside lamps also affects your sleep. 

To sleep better at night, you should start avoiding screens and other lights two-to-three hours before bed.

As this is very hard, it may be better to make small adjustments to your screen settings and your bedroom lights. 

  • Change your screen settings so they have less blue light at night 
  • Buy red lightbulbs for bedside lamps – or Smart Lightbulbs that can be Red at night, and normal during the day
    • I especially like smart lightbulbs since I can get them to turn off without leaving my bed. But you would also need a smart speaker to make that work. 
  • Read instead of watching at night

8. Limit Background Lights While Sleeping


I know you’re probably scared of the darkness of night, but it’s the lightness of night you should be afraid of. This is especially true of blue light. 

Bedrooms with a lot of light are correlated with weight gain, cancer, depression, premature aging, stress, and more. And I’m not just talking about phone lights, even alarm clocks and street lights have been shown to cause problems.

The reason light is so bad is because it disrupts our circadian rhythm and our melatonin production. Now, light isn’t the only thing that disrupts our rhythm and melatonin production – but more on that later.

Also, it is important to note, it is light going to our eyes that disrupts melatonin production. Light on our skin does not seem to have a measurable effect. 

If you would like to darken your sleep environment, I highly recommend a sleep mask or blackout curtains. Technically, a good sleep mask is all you need for darkness, but they have a habit of falling off so the curtains can be a good backup.


9. More Blue Light During The Day! 


Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found that exposure to short wavelength, or blue light, during the day directly and immediately improves alertness and performance. They also found that light during the day helps you sleep better at night. 

In other words, you should avoid blue light at night, and seek it out during the day. 

This could be through a morning walk, a short meditation in a sunbeam, or even by buying one of these ‘ sunlight ‘ lights for your office. 


10. Cool Your Room


From Google searching ‘ optimal room temperature to sleep better at night ‘ I’ve found that your bedroom should be around 65° to 68° Fahrenheit ( 18° – 19° celcius ) while you sleep. 

Although it has been shown that being too warm can affect your sleep, the above temperature recommendation is a generalization. In reality, everyone likes it at a different temperature.

To help you control your bedroom’s temperature, here are a few products.



11. Sleep on Your Back


Although side sleeping is perfectly fine, sleeping on your back is generally the most ergonomically correct way to sleep. 

The major caveat to recommendations to sleep on your back is that you should not sleep on your back if it makes you overly uncomfortable. 

To sleep on your back, you may need a few aids.

  • A pillow for under your knees
  • A flatter bed pillow  
  • A Marble to tape to your arms and chest so that when you roll over you compress the marble against you chest and wake up and go back on to your back
  • Search the internet for more suitable mattresses and more advice! Not enough space in this article to walk you through every step.

12. Pick The Right Mattress 


Buying a new mattress can make a world of difference to your sleep, but it’s an intimidating task. There is just so much to consider! 

To help you with your decision, check out this free guide from The New York Time’s Wirecutter Magazine, or this guide from Costco

Although the above guides are chaulk full of useful information, I would still recommend going to a mattress store and trying a few mattresses out before you make a purchase.

I would also recommend that any bedroom product you buy has a good return policy! It’s hard to judge how good a bedroom product is until you try to sleep on it for a while.


13. Quit Nicotine


Nicotine is a stimulant that can negatively affect your sleep. To sleep better at night, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. 

Good luck <3.


14. Unwind and Avoid Stress At Night


Angry emails, thrilling TV, and taxes are almost guaranteed to raise your blood pressure. As a result, these types of activities should be avoided like the plague before bed!

Some things that may help you unwind and sleep better at night are:

  • Bedtime Baths and Showers
  • Dim Lights
  • Relaxing Music, Podcasts, Reading, or perhaps TV
  • Herbal Tea
  • Clean Your Nest
  • Other things that you find relaxing! 

15. Watch TV On Projector Instead of Screen


Although TV may not be the ‘ideal’ activity before bed, it can be fun and relaxing and totally worth it. To enjoy this activity at a dimmer light level, you may consider watching TV via a projector instead of a digital screen. 

The reason projectors are dimmer for your eyes is because they reflect light instead of emitting light. Another benefit of projectors is that they typically create less eye strain by producing a larger image. 

I have a projector with a Google Chromecast and Bose Speaker always plugged in. It’s a great setup. And it’s small and portable too. 



16. Nap Instead of Sleeping In


If you have lost a few hours of sleep during the week, you will be tempted to sleep in on the weekend. Although I think you should give in to that temptation and enjoy it, you should keep in mind that it may shift your circadian rhythm if you do it too many days in a row. 

As a result of this risk, you may consider a mid-day nap instead. The National Sleep Foundation claims that even a short 20 minutes mid-day naps are enough to leave you feeling refreshed. Just be sure not to nap too close to bedtime. 


17. Avoid Intermittent Sounds, But Consistent Sounds Are Okay


The sound of your fan, or your white-noise machine are okay because they are consistent and your brain is good at ignoring consistent sounds. In bedrooms affected by a lot of outside noises, consistent background noises can help you sleep better at night. 

If outside noises are something that plagues your bedroom, ensure that whatever background noise you choose is consistent. Inconsistent sounds with intermittent spikes in volume will disrupt your sleep. Keeping a TV on in the background is a good example of an inconsistent background noise.


18. Listen to a Podcast, Audiobook or Something Else Relaxing While Falling Asleep


In order to get our minds off the problems of the day, it can be useful to drown our thoughts with silky podcasts, audiobooks, and beach or rainforest sounds. 

Personally, instead of noise machines, I listen to fluffy audiobooks and podcasts that do not require my full attention to enjoy. For example, I may listen to Jim Dale’s Harry Potter audiobook, or CBC’s Wiretap Show on Itunes.

On the other hand, I like podcasts like NPR’s How I built This, but I would be far too engaged with the stories to be able to fall asleep while listening to them. 


19. No Pets In Bed


Your pet loves to sleep sideways in the middle of your mattress. And as you finally get comfortable on your edge of the bed, your pet loves to wake you up for food and door openings. To make matters worse, pets are warm, and they have a habit of elevating your internal body temperature as you sleep. 

We love our pets, and we want to make sure they are happy, but be warned, sleeping with your pet won’t help you sleep better at night.


20. Resist the Urge to Hit Snooze


Hitting snooze every ten minutes for an hour is just ruining an hour of sleep. The snooze button often disturbs REM sleep, which can make us feel groggier than when we wake up during other stages of sleep. You don’t have to launch out of bed in the morning, but setting the alarm for a slightly later time and skipping a snooze cycle or two could bring big benefits.


21. Put Socks On Before Getting Into Bed


Apparently, warm hands and feet predict how quickly we fall asleep. As a result, some people believe that pulling on a fresh pair of socks before climbing into bed can help you sleep better at night. Personally, I can’t stand socks in bed, but I wanted you to know about it since it may work for you.  


22. Paint Your Bedroom a Sleepy Color


Paint your room whatever sleepy color you prefer. Perhaps it will be a nice egg shell white, or a docile baby blue, but whatever you do, make sure it isn’t a glossy finish. 


23. Don’t Be A Clock-Watcher


If you are struggling to fall asleep, try to remain calm. Although it can be tempting to angrily look at the clock and pressure yourself asleep, this actually increases stress and makes it harder to fall asleep.

Instead, turn your clock toward the wall, and accept that you may be a bit tired tomorrow. Release yourself from your high expectations, and let yourself be awake in the dark. If you still don’t fall asleep, and you feel uncomfortable in bed, leave your bed and go do something calming in another room.

Perhaps you listen to a little music, do a little writing, or read a bit of your book. Whatever it is, try to avoid bright lights and stimulating activities. Once your eyelids begin to droop, return to bed and enjoy your sweet dreams. 


  24. Don’t Stress About Sleep


There is a lot of information about the ‘best way to sleep’, but it’s ‘best’ not to stress too much about the perfect way to sleep. After all, having unrelenting standards and expectations is a good way to find yourself disappointed.

Also, it’s good to remember that most sleep advice you hear is generalized, which means it generally works for people, not that it always works for people. For instance, the tip above about wearing socks to bed is horrible advice for me, but good for others. 

In short, to sleep better at night, don’t keep yourself up trying to get a perfect sleep. Just find what works, keep key concepts in mind, and sustainably make improvements if time permits.  

Hope this article helps,

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