How can I improve my sleep?

Everyone can improve their sleep very effectively! Explore some of the best tips to capture your best sleep in this article.

One of the great things about sleep is that you can do something about it — and actually very effectively!

It can be as simple as adjusting the temperature, turning the light off, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, or making good choices regarding what and when you eat and drink.

Here is a list of 12 tips to improve your sleep. They are not ordered in any specific way — you can try which tips work for you by deliberately following the tips you think might help you the most.

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. We should aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. People generally have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Unfortunately sleeping in on weekends does not make up for poor sleep during the week. If necessary, set an alarm for bedtime. This is one of the most important advices.
  2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the afternoon. Exercise is fantastic! Everyone should try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. But try to time it no later than 2-3 hours before bed.
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine before bed. Colas, coffee, teas (that are not herbal) and chocolate contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. Even consuming these in the afternoon can have an effect on your sleep. Nicotine is also a mild stimulant, and smokers will often wake up earlier than they would otherwise, due to nicotine withdrawal.
  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. The presence of alcohol in the body can reduce your REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter phases of sleep.
  5. Avoid larger meals and beverages late at night. A light snack before bed is okay, but a heavy meal can cause digestive issues, which interfere with sleep. Drinking large quantities of fluid can cause frequent awakenings due to urination.
  6. If possible, avoid medication that delays or disrupts your sleep. Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure or asthma medications, as well as some over the counter and herbal medicines for coughs, colds or allergies can disrupt sleep patterns. If you have trouble sleeping, it may be worth speaking to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the drugs you are taking may be contributing to this. It may be possible to take them earlier in the day.
  7. Do not take naps after 3pm. Naps are great, but taking them too late in the day can make it hard to fall asleep at night. And keep them shorter than 20 minutes.
  8. Relax before bed. It is important to have time before bed to unwind. Try to schedule your days so that there is time to relax before bed.
  9. Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after a bath may help you to feel sleepy, and the bath can help you to slow down and relax before bed.
  10. Have a good sleeping environment. We sleep better at night if the temperature in the bedroom is cooler than other rooms during the day. Gadgets such as mobile phones and computers can be a distraction. Additionally the light they emit, especially blue light, suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep/wake cycles. Its concentration increases in the evening to induce sleep. There are things we can do to reduce blue light exposure at night, including:
    1. Using blue light filters or night mode on our computers, phones & tablets.
    2. Using blue light filters on your home lighting system. If you for example have a regular bedtime at 11pm, you can set your lightbulbs to reduce blue light from 10pm onwoards, which will increase your melatonin levels, preparing you for sleep.
    3. A comfortable mattress and pillow can set you up for a good sleep. Changing your linen regularly is also a good idea.
    4. People with insomnia will often watch the clock. With Somnofy you can adjust the display intensity to the lowest tier, so you don’t have to worry about the time while trying to sleep. 
  11. Have the right sunlight exposure. Sun exposure during the day helps us to regulate sleeping patterns. Try to get outside in the natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes per day.
  12. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you find yourself still awake in bed after 20 minutes of trying to sleep, or you are getting anxious in bed, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy. Anxiety whilst trying to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus Magazine, 2015