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10 Important Tips to Sleep Better

Learning how to sleep better is a common challenge due to barriers like poor sleep hygiene and irregular routines. Following tips to better sleep helps you address some of these barriers and understand why your rest might be poor, even if you manage seven hours a night. Various activities and habits govern the quality of your sleep, much like other biological functions. Some factors are due to health issues and require the assistance of a professional. Others are solvable by taking steps and establishing healthier patterns that support your body’s processes.

How to sleep better
Learning how to sleep better is critical for your health, happiness, and productivity.

Getting enough sleep is vital to your well-being because it impacts various aspects of your health. For instance, it governs everything from your ability to function to your daytime alertness and productivity. The average adult requires a minimum of seven hours. Anything less is typically insufficient and detrimental to your well-being. Furthermore, getting enough rest supports a healthier lifestyle and provides you with the energy for more stable routines and habits.

Poor sleep is commonly caused by bad nighttime habits, external stimulation, and underlying health issues. These factors prevent quality rest, slow down sleep onset, and contribute to frequent awakenings. This means that even if you manage to get eight hours a night, you may still wake up feeling tired and groggy.

As a result, it’s important to make changes to improve your sleeping environment and ensure you’re getting enough rest. Below, explore the following tips for better sleep, what they entail, how to implement them, and the benefits of doing so.

Tips for better sleep infographic

1. Ensure you sleep for a minimum of seven hours

Sleeping for at least seven hours a night is vital for better sleep. Average adults between the ages of 18 and 60 require seven or more hours a night to maintain their health. It’s possible to increase your sleeping hours through good sleep hygiene and a consistent schedule. This means going to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends, and altering your bedtime routine. For instance, create a quiet, dark environment and avoid stimulants like caffeine before bedtime. Doing so promotes relaxation and aids in a restful night.

Following these recommendations encourages healthier sleeping habits and helps you feel more rejuvenated in the mornings. Additionally, getting a minimum of seven hours a night supports your physical and mental health. Sufficient and restful nights boost your cognitive function and emotional well-being. This in turn enhances your memory, mood, and concentration. Work performance, stress management, and functions such as your immune and cardiovascular systems also improve with adequate sleep.

Note that seven hours may be insufficient for you. Some adults require eight or nine hours a night to feel the benefits of sufficient rest. If seven isn’t enough, establish a routine that works for you and increase your sleeping hours by following the described recommendations. Speak with a professional if you’re resting poorly and wake up groggy on seven or more hours of sleep as it may indicate an underlying health issue.

2. Adjust the thermostat to a temperature of 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit

A thermostat set between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit helps you achieve better sleep quality. This temperature aligns with and supports the body’s natural thermoregulatory process. This process refers to how your internal temperature declines as you sleep. A room temperature between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit helps facilitate this drop, allowing you to rest more soundly.

A room between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit promotes other benefits. For example, maintaining a cooler bedroom temperature helps reduce the risk of insomnia and enhances the quality of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is crucial for memory and mood regulation.

Keep in mind that comfortable bedroom temperatures vary from person to person. A range of 65 to 68 degrees supports your biological functions, but it’s normal to feel comfortable sleeping at slightly higher or lower temperatures. However, rooms that are too hot or too humid disrupt sleep patterns. Likewise, rooms that are too cold may be uncomfortable and lead to frequent awakenings. Use fans or an air conditioner to cool your room down to the optimal range. If the room is too cold, sleep with extra blankets. Doing so improves the immediate temperature of your bed without heating the room.

3. Upgrade your mattress and bedding

Upgrading your mattress and bedding enhances your sleep comfort and support. Your mattress affects your back alignment and pressure relief. This in turn influences your preferred lying position and how often you toss and turn. The 2022 study, “The Relationship Between Sleeping Position and Sleep Quality,” found that your lying position and turning frequency significantly affect the quality of your rest.

Meanwhile, your bedding extends to your pillow and sheets. They respectively affect your sleep through proper head and neck alignment, as well as body temperature regulation. To upgrade your bedding and mattress, evaluate your current setup. Consider the age of your mattress, your sleeping position, and the quality of your bedding. Opt for bedding and mattresses that reduce discomfort. For example, memory foam or hybrid mattresses are supportive, while breathable fabrics like cotton, bamboo, and linen are ideal for bedding.

The benefits of this upgrade are substantial. A supportive mattress and comfortable bedding alleviate strain on your body, maintain a comfortable temperature, and support the alignment of your back, neck, and spine. These changes enhance your sleep quality, allowing you to rest longer and more comfortably, and reduce any pain you may have in the morning.

4. Unplug devices one hour before bedtime

It’s important to unplug all devices one hour before bedtime to improve your sleep quality. This means turning off or setting aside all electronic screens, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and televisions. These devices emit blue light, which suppresses your body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin regulates your sleep-wake cycle and signals your body when it’s time to rest. Even low-stress activities like reading an e-book or watching a video disrupt sleep preparation due to blue light.

Establish a routine where you turn off or remove all electronic screens at least sixty minutes before bedtime. This time reduces the effects of blue light and aids in melatonin production. Electronic devices are likely part of your nighttime activities, but you can replace their usage with other activities to soothe you, such as meditating or listening to music.

Limiting screen time before bed leads to various benefits. For instance, limited blue light exposure prompts quicker sleep onset. This means you fall asleep faster and more deeply, improving restfulness. Additionally, cutting out electronic devices reduces mental stimulation and prevents the production of hormones like adrenaline, which provoke wakefulness. Consequently, you’re able to relax more easily before bed and sleep more soundly.

5. Take 30 minutes to unwind before going to bed

Taking thirty minutes to unwind before bed helps you mentally and physically prepare for sleep. This involves engaging in calming activities that allow you to decompress and create a peaceful environment for sleep. Doing so is important as it signals your mind and body to rest. This in turn helps you sleep better by promoting physiological and mental cues to aid in a restful night.

To complete this tip, build a routine where you focus the last half-hour before bed on relaxation. As you limit screen time and unplug devices, seek out activities that are low-effort and low-stress. For example, reading, meditating, yoga, journaling, or hobbies such as knitting or drawing are some ways to unwind before bed.

The main benefit of such activities is that they promote relaxation and calmness. This helps physiological cues such as melatonin production to take hold and mentally prepare you for bed. A dedicated time to unwind additionally helps you establish a regular bedtime. In turn, you better align with your body’s circadian rhythms—which previous tips further aid, such as adjusting your thermostat and planning for at least seven hours of sleep.

6. Keep your sleeping environment dark

A dark sleeping environment is essential for an effective nighttime routine. Light influences the circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Daytime light affects mood and alertness, whereas nighttime light sometimes disrupts melatonin hormone production. Accordingly, a dark environment helps your body produce the hormone, making it vital to sleeping better.

Consider purchasing blackout curtains or shades to block external light sources like streetlights or cars. Additionally, minimize electrical devices (as previously discussed) and use dim or red-toned lights in the evening. These types of lights do not impact melatonin production as severely as bright white or blue lights do.

Furthermore, a dark sleeping environment promotes various advantages for your health. The foremost benefit is that it improves your sleep hygiene and signals your body that it’s time to rest. Additionally, reducing nighttime light may be beneficial to your mental health according to the 2023 study, “Day and Night Light Exposure Are Associated with Psychiatric Disorders.” Researchers establish a connection between nighttime light and disorders like insomnia, depression, and anxiety, which are affected by poor sleep. As a result, they suggest limited nighttime light exposure may improve your mental health.

7. Restrict caffeine intake after 2 PM

Restricting caffeine intake after 2 PM improves your sleep because it minimizes its effects. Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks adenosine, which induces tiredness. Furthermore, it lingers within your system even hours after its consumption. The paper, “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed,” highlights the effect of caffeine at various intervals. Drinking caffeine as early as six hours before bedtime was shown to disrupt sleep patterns.

Coffee is a primary source of caffeine, but it’s important to avoid all sources for better sleep. This includes tea, certain soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, and some over-the-counter medications. Pay attention to ingredients as some foods and beverages may contain caffeine when they traditionally don’t. If you enjoy hot beverages in the evening, switch to calming drinks to help induce sleep, such as herbal teas (chamomile or peppermint), warm milk, or lemon water.

Reducing your caffeine intake has various benefits for sleep. For example, it enables typical adenosine production and improves the overall quality of your sleep. This includes the duration and depths of sleep, its onset, and how often you wake up in the middle of the night. Additionally, less caffeine enhances your sleep hygiene by reinforcing healthier habits and encouraging physiological cues that align with your body’s circadian rhythm.

8. Minimize nicotine usage and exposure to smoke

Minimization of nicotine and smoke exposure boosts your sleep by curbing chemical effects. Nicotine is a stimulant like caffeine. It stimulates neurotransmitters that increase alertness and elevate your heart rate. This hinders the onset of REM sleep and the natural progression of your sleep cycle.

The key to minimizing nicotine’s impact is to outright avoid or limit your usage of nicotine products before bedtime. Consider programs or nicotine replacements if you’re a habitual smoker. Doing so reduces your exposure to smoke and curbs any evening cravings. Additionally, avoid inhaling secondhand smoke. This similarly impairs your sleep and further impacts your physical health. For instance, it increases the risk of respiratory issues and exacerbates conditions like asthma.

Limiting or avoiding nicotine altogether leads to deeper and more restorative sleep. Furthermore, it boasts major benefits for your general well-being. For example, it reduces the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and improves overall cardiovascular and respiratory health.

9. Have dinner a few hours before bedtime

Another tip for better sleep is to have dinner several hours before your bedtime. Doing so supports your circadian rhythm. Eating too close to bedtime disrupts natural processes, as your circadian cycle optimizes digestion, metabolization, and the production of insulin earlier in the day. It takes several hours for your body to digest food and does so more slowly if you lie down. Furthermore, lying down on a full stomach may be uncomfortable and trigger acid reflux, further disrupting your sleep.

Plan your dinner several hours before you go to sleep. Two to three hours is an optimal range but may vary according to your eating habits and metabolism. If you’re hungry before bed, eat a small snack such as fruit, yogurt, or nuts. Avoid large meals as they’ll create discomfort and digest slowly. Conditions like indigestion and heartburn are associated with eating a large meal before bedtime. Cut out any foods containing caffeine before bed as this evokes alertness and blocks the sleep chemical adenosine.

Managing your dinner and bedtime appropriately benefits you in several ways. For example, it allows for proper digestion. Your body has time to process your meals appropriately, which reduces the likelihood of sleep disturbances and averts conditions like indigestion or acid reflux. Additionally, ensuring you have a meal several hours earlier prevents late-night cravings. This is beneficial for your overall diet and sleep as it means you’re eating at times that align with your circadian rhythms.

10. Minimize naps during the day

Another step toward better sleep is to minimize your daytime naps. Napping presents both positives and negatives for your health. For instance, short naps are restorative and help you feel more alert if you struggle to rest at night or have a non-traditional work schedule. However, excessive napping interferes with your day by inducing sleep inertia (grogginess) or interfering with your nighttime sleep drive.

It’s possible to minimize daytime naps by setting a specific time. According to the paper, “The Effects of Napping on Cognitive Functioning” by Nicole Lovato and Leon Lack, the timing and lengths of naps affect their benefits. The early afternoon is optimal with short 5 to 15-minute naps promoting cognitive performance. Meanwhile, longer napping exceeding 30 minutes may cause grogginess but possibly improve functioning.

Restricted daytime naps overall benefit your sleep quality and health. It helps preserve the natural physiological cue for sleep so that you’re sufficiently tired at night. You’re more likely to fall asleep quickly and rest uninterrupted. Additionally, taking short naps in the afternoon boosts your mood and performance, and helps you recover from low-quality slumber.

Why is getting enough sleep important?

Getting enough sleep is important because it improves your overall well-being. Sufficient, high-quality sleep impacts your mental and physical health, as well as your ability to manage stress. Various studies support this fact. For instance, the 2020 paper “Sleep Timing, Sleep Consistency, and Health in Adults” highlights the value of getting enough rest. Evidence shows that late timing and inconsistent bedtime patterns correlate with negative health outcomes. In contrast, earlier times and regular schedules benefit your health.

Inadequate rest even raises the risk of various diseases and disorders, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or mood disorders like depression. In contrast, sufficient sleep promotes your immune system, mood regulation, and cognitive abilities among other aspects.

Sleep additionally impacts stress management. Insufficient rest increases cortisol, which is the body’s primary stress hormone. High cortisol levels have various adverse effects, including high blood pressure, mood instability, impaired convention, and weakened immunity. Getting enough shuteye helps lower your cortisol levels and, by extension, manages stress by rejuvenating the body and mind.

How does sleeping better improve a healthy lifestyle?

Sleeping better supports a healthy lifestyle because it’s integral to basic physical health. A healthy lifestyle encompasses a range of practices and routines, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper stress management. For example, it allows you to have the energy to exercise and function in your day-to-day life. Better sleep calls for an effective routine, which makes room for balanced nutrition. You’re able to digest food appropriately without it interfering with your nighttime functions.

Furthermore, quality rest rejuvenates your body. It enhances brain functions like memory and decision-making and stabilizes your emotions. This restorative quality improves stress resilience, helping you to cope with and manage the difficulties of the day and prepare you for tomorrow’s demands.

Why do I still feel tired after eight hours of sleep?

You might feel tired after eight hours of sleep for a myriad of reasons. For example, it’s normal to feel tired after eight hours of sleep if your body naturally needs more. Sleep varies from person to person, much like any other biological function. You may require more than eight hours because that’s what is optimal for your body.

That said, chronically feeling groggy or exhausted despite getting eight hours a night may be indicative of other issues. For example, if your sleep hygiene and bedtime habits are poor, you’re more likely to feel tired. One contributor is sleep debt, which is the result of irregular and insufficient rest. It culminates in chronic tiredness even if you’ve recently slept eight hours. Other factors like jet lag, insomnia, mood disorders, menstruation, pregnancy, and stress impair sleep quality.

Ultimately, feeling tired sometimes is normal but persistent tiredness isn’t. Work on your sleep hygiene and speak with a healthcare professional if you continue to feel unrested as this may be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Can exercise help you feel energetic after sleeping?

Yes, exercise can help you feel energetic after sleep. One of the main benefits of exercise is that it increases your energy levels through several biological functions, such as boosting blood flow, enhancing mitochondria production in muscle cells, and releasing endorphins. Endorphins particularly improve your energy after sleep because they boost your mood and encourage activity. Additionally, regular physical activity links to better sleep quality. It helps regulate your body’s endocrine system and circadian rhythms. However, it’s important to avoid strenuous exercise in the evening. Like caffeine or nicotine, it distorts your sleep-wake cycle and makes you feel more alert.

What are the common reasons for not getting enough sleep?

Common reasons for not getting enough sleep divide into poor sleep habits, underlying health issues, and external stimulation. Poor sleep habits are a major contributor to insufficient sleep. These habits may not be indicators of any health issues, but they do impact your well-being by decreasing the quality of your rest. Habits vary from person to person but generally involve an inconsistent schedule, a lack of a bedtime routine, and overstimulating, energizing activities like using your phone or smoking nicotine.

External stimulation is a major contributor to poor sleep habits. For example, many people tend to use their electronic devices before bed. Blue light from devices like smartphones and laptops suppresses your melatonin production, which makes it harder to fall asleep. Caffeine and other stimulants like nicotine you consume late in the day keep the mind alert and awake. Even eating too late in the day interferes with your circadian rhythm. Furthermore, environmental factors, such as a noisy neighborhood or an overly warm bedroom, also disrupt sleep.

Health is another major reason for insufficient rest. Sleep is an important biological function, so it influences and is influenced by other areas of your health. Stress, anxiety, and depression often keep the mind active at night, hindering your ability to relax and fall asleep. Medical conditions like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or chronic pain disrupt sleep patterns. Meanwhile, certain medications for conditions like asthma or high blood pressure interfere with your ability to rest as a side effect. It’s important to speak with a professional to address these issues as ample sleep is key to your overall well-being.

Are five hours of sleep enough?

No, five hours of sleep are not enough. The average adult requires a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night to function during the day. Getting only five hours a night may lead to sleep deprivation due to insufficient rest. Sleep deprivation has a myriad of health implications, including but not limited to chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and mood disorders such as depression. Severe sleep deprivation escalates to more serious health issues, such as hallucinations, difficulty speaking, and hand tremors.

Keep in mind that five hours isn’t ideal for any age range. Children and teens require between eight and ten hours of sleep, whereas adults require seven or more. Less than this amount affects your health regardless of your health. Speak with a professional if you have difficulty sleeping more than five hours a night as it might be indicative of an underlying issue, such as insomnia.

Is getting enough sleep one way to increase productivity?

Yes, enough sleep is one way to increase your productivity. Sleep is restorative to the body and has various health benefits, including improved cognitive functions. These functions determine your ability to perform tasks, concentrate, make decisions, and solve problems effectively.

According to the 2018 paper, “Work Productivity Loss Associated with Sleep Duration” by Robert Yang and co-writers, sleeping less than four hours hinders your productivity by as much as 29%, while a duration of five to six hours impairs it by 19%. This is due to sleep deprivation, which impairs your well-being and harms your productivity by reducing your ability to focus. It diminishes your cognitive and decision-making skills and increases the likelihood of errors and accidents.