Do you suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders? Or even if you’re generally not getting enough night’s rest, do you sometimes wake up feeling tired?
Sleeping is vital for our mental and physical health. But sometimes, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep due to stress, poor lifestyle choices, or an underlying medical condition. The importance of proper sleep cannot be overstated and has been enunciated by many eminent doctors for decades.
Irregular sleep patterns can affect our productivity during the day, lower our moods and make us feel more fatigued and lethargic in the long run. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help address irregular sleep patterns and improve your quality of sleep. In this article, we will discuss various evidence-based strategies to maximize your nightly rest. So get ready to learn everything you need to know about improving your sleep!
17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night
Sleep is an essential part of our health and well-being, yet many of us struggle to get a good night’s rest. Poor sleep can have immediate negative effects on hormones, exercise performance, and brain function, as well as cause weight gain and increase disease risk. Good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier. Unfortunately, poor sleep quality and quantity have been on the decline in recent decades.
Fortunately, there are 17 evidence-based tips to help improve sleep quality at night. Strategies for sleeping better depend on individual needs, job requirements, and home environment. Older people tend to find it harder to work nights or rotate shifts while some people are “evening types” who adjust better to the night shift than “morning types”. To ensure that you get a good night’s rest each night it is important to make sleep a high priority in your life by identifying strategies that work best for you and implementing those strategies to improve your sleep quality.
1. Increase bright light exposure during the day
Increasing bright light exposure during the day is an important part of maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. Studies have found that in people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration by 83%, and in older adults, it increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80%. To get the benefits of daily light exposure, try getting daily sunlight exposure or invest in an artificial bright light device or bulb.
However, nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect due to its effect on your circadian rhythm. Blue light emitted from electronic devices like smartphones and computers is particularly disruptive. To reduce blue light exposure in the evening, wear glasses that block blue light, download an app such as f.lux, install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone, and turn off any bright lights 2 hours before bedtime. Taking these steps can help ensure you get enough quality sleep each night to stay healthy and energized during the day.
2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect due to its effect on your circadian rhythm. Blue light emitted from electronic devices is particularly disruptive and can reduce hormones like melatonin. To reduce blue light exposure in the evening, there are several steps you can take. Wearing glasses that block blue light, downloading an app to block blue light on computers and phones, and turning off any bright lights 2 hours before bedtime are all effective ways to reduce blue light exposure.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy, improving daytime energy and nighttime sleep quality and duration. Studies have found that in people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration by 83%, and in older adults, it increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80%. To get the benefits of daily light exposure, try getting daily sunlight exposure or invest in an artificial bright light device or bulbs. This will help ensure that you get enough quality sleep each night to stay healthy and energized during the day.
3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
Caffeine is a widely used stimulant that can provide numerous benefits, such as increased focus and energy. However, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks of consuming caffeine late in the day. Caffeine has a half-life of around 5 hours, meaning that it can still be present in your system for up to 10 hours after consumption. This means that if you consume caffeine late in the afternoon or evening, it can significantly worsen your sleep quality. Therefore, it is not recommended to consume caffeine after 3-4 p.m., as this could disrupt your natural sleep cycle and prevent you from getting adequate rest.
In addition to avoiding caffeine late in the day, there are other things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Eating a high-carb meal 4 hours before bed may help people fall asleep faster, but a low-carb diet may also improve sleep, indicating that carbs are not always necessary. Furthermore, eating late at night can negatively affect sleep quality and duration, so it is best to avoid eating close to bedtime.
4. Reduce irregular or long daytime naps
Daytime napping can be beneficial for some people, but it can also have negative effects on sleep quality and health if done too often or for too long. Short power naps of 30 minutes or less can help to enhance daytime brain function, while longer naps can lead to poor sleep quality and disrupted sleep at night. Regular daytime nappers may not experience these negative effects, but those who already have difficulty sleeping should avoid taking long naps during the day.
Night shift workers should maintain a regular sleep schedule in order to ensure quality sleep. Rotating shift workers should adjust their sleep times gradually before a schedule change in order to help the body adapt more easily and avoid disruption from sudden changes. By following these tips, individuals can reduce irregular or long daytime naps and enjoy better overall health and improved sleep quality.
5. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times
Having a consistent sleep/wake cycle is essential for good sleep quality. Irregular sleeping patterns can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal the brain to sleep. To get into a regular sleep/wake cycle, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day and avoid going to bed late on weekends. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times every day will help your body adjust to its natural rhythms.
In addition, there are several other strategies you can use to ensure better sleep quality. Block out snoring with earplugs, a white-noise machine, or separate bedrooms if necessary. Develop soothing bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, playing music, or practicing relaxation techniques before bed. This will help your body relax and prepare for restful sleep. Finally, make sure that your bedroom is dark and cool enough for optimal sleeping conditions. With these tips in mind, you should be able to enjoy better sleep quality and improved overall health.
6. Take a melatonin supplement
Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that helps people fall asleep faster and improves sleep quality. It is released by the brain at night and helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Taking melatonin supplements can help improve sleep quality and reduce the time to fall asleep, as well as help with adjusting to a new time zone. Melatonin supplements are widely available in stores or online and can be taken 30-60 minutes before bed. Start with a low dose of 1–5 mg and increase slowly as needed, and speak with a healthcare provider before use if you are considering using it for your child.
Studies have found melatonin to be fairly safe in healthy adults, but its long-term effects remain unknown. Taking melatonin has been found to be most effective in helping people with jet lag, but may have a mild effect on others. If you are considering taking melatonin supplements, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider first to ensure that it is the right choice for you. Additionally , be sure to follow the instructions on the label for safe and effective use.
7. Consider these other supplements
Ginkgo biloba, glycine, valerian root, magnesium, L-theanine, and lavender are all-natural supplements that can help induce relaxation and improve sleep quality. Taking the recommended dosage of each supplement 30-60 minutes before bed can be beneficial for improving sleep. Combining these supplements with other natural sleeping strategies such as avoiding caffeine late in the day or setting a regular bedtime routine can further enhance their effectiveness.
Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that helps people fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality. Melatonin supplements are widely available in stores or online and taking 1-5 mg 30-60 minutes before bed can help with insomnia and adjusting to new time zones. Studies have shown no withdrawal effects from taking melatonin supplements, making it a safe and effective way to improve sleep. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before using melatonin, especially for children, as long-term use has not been well studied. Start with a
8. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol consumption can hurt sleep. It disrupts the natural sleep patterns and reduces nighttime melatonin production, which is essential for restful sleep. Alcohol consumption also increases the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. Furthermore, it decreases natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH). Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night, which can be caused by drinking alcohol before bedtime. To avoid this problem, it’s wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening and not drink any fluids for 1-2 hours before going to bed. Additionally, using the bathroom right before bed may decrease the chances of waking in night due to needing to use the restroom.
Overall, alcohol consumption should be avoided if you want to get a good night’s rest. Not only does it disrupt your natural sleep patterns and reduce melatonin production, but it can also lead to other problems such as increased symptoms of sleep apnea and nocturia. If you do choose to drink alcohol, it is important to limit your intake and avoid drinking fluids for 1-2 hours before bedtime. Additionally, using the bathroom right before bed may help reduce the chances of needing to use the restroom during the night.
9. Optimize your bedroom environment
Creating an optimal bedroom environment is essential for a good night’s sleep. External noise, light, and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks can all disrupt your sleep and cause long-term health issues. To minimize these distractions, invest in comfortable bedding and block out light with curtains or an eye mask. You can also drown out the noise with earplugs, a white noise machine, or a fan. Incorporating calming scents such as lavender can help create a positive sleep environment. Utilizing natural light and comfortable bedding will also promote relaxation. Finally, decluttering the bedroom can reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
A study of women found that around 50% noticed improved sleep quality when noise and light diminished. This shows how important it is to create an ideal sleeping environment in order to get the restful sleep you need each night. Taking the time to optimize your bedroom environment will not only help you get better quality sleep but also have long-term health benefits.
10. Set your bedroom temperature
Having a comfortable bedroom environment is essential for getting a good night’s sleep. Studies have found that increased body and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness. The optimal bedroom temperature for most people is around 70°F (20°C). To achieve this, it is important to keep the room well-ventilated and free from any sources of heat or cold. Additionally, minimizing external noise, light, and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks can help optimize your bedroom environment.
Numerous studies point out that external noise can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues. A study on the bedroom environment of women showed that around 50% of participants noticed improved sleep quality when noise and light diminished. It is important to create an environment where you feel comfortable and relaxed so that you can get the restful sleep you need. Investing in blackout curtains or blinds, earplugs, or a white noise machine may be beneficial in creating a peaceful sleeping space.
11. Don’t eat late in the evening
Eating late in the evening can have a negative impact on your sleep quality and the natural release of hormones like HGH and melatonin. Eating a high-carb meal 4 hours before bed may help people fall asleep faster, but a low-carb diet may also improve sleep, suggesting that carbs are not always necessary for good sleep. Caffeine has numerous benefits and is consumed by 90% of the U.S. population, but it can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping. Consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed can significantly worsen sleep quality, so it’s best to stick with decaffeinated coffee in the late afternoon or evening if you want to avoid these issues.
It’s important to be mindful of what you eat late at night as it can affect your overall health and well-being. Eating too close to bedtime can cause indigestion and disrupt your sleep. Eating a light snack before bed such as yogurt or a banana can help you fall asleep faster, but it’s best to avoid heavy meals late in the evening. Additionally, limiting caffeine intake after 3–4 p.m. is recommended if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.
12. Relax and clear your mind in the evening
Relaxing and clearing the mind in the evening is essential for a good night’s sleep. Relaxation techniques such as listening to calming music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing and visualization can help improve sleep quality. A study showed that a relaxing massage improved sleep quality in people who were ill. Experiment with different methods to find what works best for you to help relax and clear your mind in the evening.
Working the night shift goes against the body’s natural circadian rhythm, making it difficult to feel optimal. Rotating shifts are even harder on the body as it has difficulty anticipating when to produce hormones for sleep and digestion. Exposure to sunlight at different times of the week further disrupts the body’s natural functioning. Regular, restful sleep is essential for the body’s repair but night shift work disrupts this ability to recover and recuperate from daytime damage. An erratic or irregular sleep schedule prevents the synchrony of repair that should occur at night.
13. Take a relaxing bath or shower
Taking a relaxing bath or shower can be an effective way to improve sleep quality and help you get more deep sleep. A hot bath 90 minutes before bed has been shown to be particularly beneficial, as it helps the body relax and prepares it for sleep. Additionally, bathing your feet in hot water can help you relax and improve your sleep. If a full bath isn’t possible, taking a warm shower or foot bath before bed can also help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
Relaxation techniques such as listening to calming music, reading a book, meditating, deep breathing exercises, and visualization can also help improve sleep quality. A relaxing massage has also been found to be beneficial for people who are ill. Experiment with different methods to find what works best for you. Taking the time to relax before bed is important for getting good restful sleep and improving overall health and well-being.
14. Rule out a sleep disorder
Poor sleep can have a significant impact on our overall health and wellbeing. It is important to rule out any underlying sleep disorders that may be causing poor sleep. Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, where the upper airway becomes blocked during sleep, reducing or stopping airflow. This can lead to snoring, gasping for breath, and disrupted sleep. Insomnia is another common disorder that can be short-term or long-term. It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Shift workers are also at risk of developing sleep movement disorders and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders due to their irregular sleeping patterns.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, it is wise to consult your healthcare provider who may recommend keeping a sleep diary and running tests to look for any underlying causes of poor sleep. Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine late in the day, exercising regularly, and establishing a regular bedtime routine. If these measures do not help, your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation.
15. Get a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow
Having a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow is essential for getting a good night’s sleep. Quality bedding can improve sleep quality and reduce back pain, so it is important to invest in the best possible products. It is recommended to upgrade bedding every 5-8 years, so browse our market for editor-trusted and expert-verified pillow and mattress recommendations. To ensure a good night’s sleep, use excellent bedding and block out light with heavy curtains or an eye mask. Drown out noise with ear plugs, a white noise machine, or a fan. Incorporate calming scents such as lavender to create a positive sleep environment. Utilize light colors and fabrics to promote relaxation. Investing in comfortable bedding and pillows will help you get the restful sleep you need to feel your best during the day.
16. Exercise regularly — but not before bed
Exercising regularly is an important part of maintaining good health and sleep. Exercise can reduce symptoms of insomnia, such as time to fall asleep, total night wakefulness, anxiety, and total sleep time. It is best to exercise during daylight hours for optimal results; exercising too late in the day may have a stimulatory effect that can make it harder to fall asleep.
Having a consistent sleep/wake cycle is also important for improving long-term sleep quality. Irregular sleeping patterns can disrupt your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, making it more difficult to fall asleep. To get into a regular sleep/wake cycle, try to wake up and go to bed at similar times every day, even on the weekends. This will help you establish a healthy routine that will improve your overall health and well-being.
17. Don’t drink any liquids before bed
Nocturia, or excessive urination during the night, is a common problem that can be caused by drinking large amounts of liquids before bed. It is important to reduce fluid intake in the late evening and try to use the bathroom right before bed. Alcohol consumption at night can also have a negative effect on sleep and hormones. Not only does it decrease natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH) and reduce melatonin production, but it can also cause or increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns.
It is best to avoid drinking any liquids before bedtime in order to prevent nocturia and other sleep disturbances. If you are thirsty at night, opt for a glass of water instead of alcohol or other beverages with caffeine or sugar. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day will help keep your body hydrated without having to drink too much close to bedtime.
In conclusion, there are many strategies for addressing irregular sleep patterns and enhancing sleep quality. Investing in comfortable bedding and pillows is essential for getting a good night’s rest. It is also important to create a calming environment by blocking out light and noise with curtains, eye masks, earplugs, or white noise machines. Additionally, exercising regularly during daylight hours can help improve sleep quality and establish a regular sleep/wake cycle. Finally, it is important to avoid drinking any liquids before bedtime in order to prevent nocturia and other sleep disturbances.