7 Tips to Help You Sleep Better

woman sleeping
When you sleep better, you wake up refreshed! Here are seven tips to help ensure you get solid shut-eye.
by Cheryl S. Grant

If you've ever suffered through a sleepless night, you're in good company. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, one in three people experience at least mild insomnia.

While several factors can cause you to toss and turn, there are many things you can do to sleep better (that don't involve taking a sleeping pill!). Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, small adjustments in your sleep ritual can make a surprising difference. Here are seven tips to help ensure you get enough shut-eye.

1. Declutter Your Space

Your bedroom should be the place that is reserved for sleeping. Keeping items close by that remind you of your stressful day is not a good idea. For example, if you have a desk in your bedroom where you do work, consider moving it to another room. Your bedroom should be a place of peace, where you can escape the chaos of the day and happily enter into a state of relaxation.

2. Get Your Numbers Up

Everyone is a little different — and some of us may require more sleep than others — but generally, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours nightly for those 18 to 64 years old. Sleep is your chance to shut down and reset. Your brain needs a significant break if you want to feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new day.

A lack of sleep can have a profound effect on your body. In a study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, researchers surmised that sleep deprivation can lead to the loss of muscle mass and hinder recovery after exercise.

3. Ditch Technology

Many of us spend a lot of time glued to our gadgets, but according to research conducted at the University of Houston, the blue light emitted from our electronics could contribute to sleep dysfunction. To set yourself up for a solid night's sleep, turn off all of your devices about an hour before hitting the hay. If it's too tempting to use them, put them in another room or keep them silenced so they do not disrupt your sleep patterns.

4. Rituals Work

Many successful athletes will tell you that they perform well because they stick to certain rituals. This is because rituals can help control anxiety and lower the brain's sensitivity to failure.

To use this theory to help your sleep, choose some rituals to perform nightly before bed. These might include a warm bath or shower, gentle stretching, journaling, or reading. Try to avoid activities that excite or stimulate your senses, such as talking about politics or anything else that you might deem emotionally charged.

5. Be Consistent

Similar to having a nightly ritual, it's important to adhere to a sleep schedule. Aim to go to bed at the same time each night, and set your alarm for the same time each morning — even on the weekends! Setting your body's internal clock can help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more revitalized.

6. Exercise!

Research has found that exercise can improve sleep quality, even for those who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia. Since sleep and working out go hand in hand, try to fit in a gym session before the end of your day. You'll thank yourself the moment your head hits that pillow.

7. Keep It Cool and Dark

A warm bath can promote sleep — but a warm room might not be as effective. Lowering the temperature of your room by a couple degrees can help you sleep more soundly through the night.

According to research conducted at the University of South Australia, "The body needs to drop its core temperature in order for sleep to initiate normally." So, turn that thermostat down before bed! And do the same to the lights. Bright lights slow the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep.