13 Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Sleeping in on weekends won’t fully make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up early on Monday morning.  

2. Exercise Is Great, but Not Too Late in the Day

Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but not later than 2 hours before your bedtime.

3. Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine 

Coffee, colas, certain teas, and chocolate contain caffeine, a stimulant, and its effects can take as long as 8 hours to wear off fully. A cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.

Nicotine is also a stimulant, often causing smokers to sleep only very lightly. In addition, smokers or people using nicotine patches and gum often wake up too early in the morning because of nicotine withdrawal.  

4. Avoid Alcoholic Drinks Before Bed

Having a “nightcap” or alcoholic beverage before sleep may help you relax, but even moderate intake robs you of deep sleep and REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep.  

Heavy alcohol ingestion also may contribute to impairment in breathing at night. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of the alcohol have worn off.  

5. Avoid Large Meals and Beverages Late at Night 

A light snack is okay, but a large meal can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent awakenings to urinate. Not eating or drinking 2 hours before bed can help prevent late-night bathroom trips.

6. Avoid Medicines That Delay or Disrupt Your Sleep (If Possible) 

Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure, or asthma medications, as well as some over-the-counter and herbal remedies and teas for coughs, colds, or allergies, can disrupt sleep patterns. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see whether any drugs or supplements you’re taking might be contributing to your insomnia, and ask whether they can be taken at other times during the day or early in the evening.  

7. Don’t Take Naps After 3 p.m. 

Naps can help make up for lost sleep, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. 

8. Relax Before Bed 

Don’t overschedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to relaxing music, should be part of your bedtime ritual.  Try to start winding down at least 20 minutes before bed.

9. Take a Hot Bath Before Bed

The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax and slow down so you’re more ready to sleep.  

10. Have a Good Sleeping Environment

Get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or warm temperatures. You sleep better if the temperature in the room is kept on the cool side, around 65–68°F (18–20°C). A TV, cell phone, or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction and deprive you of needed sleep.  

Having a comfortable mattress and pillow can help promote a good night’s sleep. Individuals who have insomnia may often find themselves watching the clock. Turn the clock’s face out of view so you don’t worry about the time while trying to fall asleep. 

11. Have the Right Sunlight Exposure

Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning.  

Sleep experts recommend that, if you have problems falling asleep, you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.  

12. Don’t Lie in Bed Awake

If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than 20 minutes or if you are starting to feel anxious or worried, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.  

13. See a Doctor if You Continue to Have Trouble Sleeping 

If you consistently find it difficult to fall or stay asleep or feel tired or not well-rested during the day despite spending enough time in bed at night, you may have a sleep disorder. Your doctor, sleep specialist, or Trellus Health Care Team should be able to help you, and it is important to rule out other health or psychiatric problems that may be disturbing your sleep.  

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention