Getting enough sleep is essential for our mental and physical health. Despite its importance, a significant percentage of people struggle to sleep well and are notably sleepy during the day.

While sleeping problems have many causes and types, experts agree that a few concrete steps can promote more restful sleep.

It can be difficult to implement all of these strategies for many people. The good news is you don’t have to make big changes all at once; you can start with small changes and work your way up to healthier sleep habits.

Our sleep hygiene improvements have been split up into four categories:

Every category contains specific actions you can take to make falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up well-rested easier.

Making Your Bedroom Sleep-Inducing:

Make your bedroom a place of comfort and relaxation to help you fall asleep quickly and easily. Although this seems obvious, it’s often overlooked, which contributes to sleep difficulties.

The following tips will help you create a sleep environment that maximizes comfort and minimizes distractions:

  • Invest in quality mattresses and pillows: The right mattress for your needs and preferences is crucial to ensuring that you are comfortable enough to sleep. Additionally, it provides proper spinal support so you don’t suffer from aches and pains.
  • Bedding: Your bed’s sheets and blankets play a major role in making it feel inviting. Ensure that your bedding feels comfortable to the touch and maintains a comfortable temperature while you sleep.
  • Minimize light disruption: Excessive light exposure can disrupt your sleep and circadian rhythm. You can prevent light from interfering with your sleep by hanging blackout curtains over your windows or wearing a sleep mask over your eyes.
  • Maintain a peaceful and quiet environment: Noise should be kept to a minimum when building a sleep-positive bedroom. Consider drowning out nearby sources of noise with a fan or white noise machine if you cannot eliminate them. Sleeping with earplugs or headphones can also help you avoid being bothered by abrasive noises.
  • Establish a Comfortable Temperature: Make sure you don’t feel too hot or too cold in your bedroom.
  • Relax with Pleasant Aromas: A pleasant scent can help you drift off to sleep. Essential oils provide a soothing and fresh scent to your bedroom.

Sleep Schedule Optimisation:

Getting better sleep begins with taking control of your daily sleep schedule.

Implement these four strategies to start harnessing your schedule:

  • Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day: You won’t be able to establish a healthy sleep schedule if you’re constantly waking up at different times. Don’t give in to sleep-in temptations. Set a wake-up time and stick to it, even on weekends.
  • Make Time for Sleep: You need to build time for sleep into your schedule if you want to get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Work backwards from your fixed wake-up time to identify a target bedtime. To prepare for sleep, give yourself extra time before bed.
  • Take Care When Napping: If you want to sleep better at night, you should use caution when taking naps. It can be difficult to fall asleep if you nap too long or too late during the day. Napping is best done shortly after lunch in the early afternoon, and napping should last around 20 minutes.
  • Make Adjustments Gradually: Whenever you need to adjust your sleep schedule, do so slowly over time with no more than 1-2 hours difference per night. In this way, your body gets used to the changes so you can follow your new schedule more easily.

Creating a pre-bedtime routine:

When you have trouble falling asleep, you might think that the problem begins when you lie down in bed. It is actually the lead-up to bedtime that has the greatest impact on your ability to fall asleep quickly and easily.

Insomnia and other sleep disorders are often caused by poor pre-bed habits. Changing these habits takes time, but the effort can pay off by helping you relax and fall asleep faster.

Maintaining a consistent routine each night helps reinforce healthy habits and signals to the mind and body that bedtime is approaching.

Follow these three tips as part of your routine:

  • Spend At Least 30 Minutes Winding Down: You are more likely to fall asleep smoothly if you are at-ease. Sleeping well can be achieved by reading quietly, stretching, listening to soothing music, and doing relaxation exercises.
  • Don’t Use Bright Light: Avoiding bright light before bedtime will promote your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
  • Turn Off Devices: Your brain can become wired by tablets, cell phones, and laptops, making it hard to truly wind down. Melatonin production is also suppressed by the light from these devices. Before going to sleep, disconnect for at least 30 minutes.

Daytime sleep habits that promote sleep:

Getting a good night’s sleep requires an all-day commitment. It is possible to improve your night time sleep with a few simple steps you can take during the day.

  • See the Light of Day: We regulate our internal clocks through light exposure. You can get the most benefit from sunlight by getting outside or opening your windows or blinds to let in natural light. You can normalize your circadian rhythm by getting some daylight early in the day. A light therapy box can be used if natural light isn’t an option.
  • Make Time to Move: Exercise promotes health in a variety of ways, including changes in energy use and body temperature, which can promote a good night’s sleep. It is generally recommended to avoid intense exercise close to bedtime, as it may prevent your body from settling down before you sleep.
  • Keep an eye on your caffeine intake: Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and soda, are very popular around the world. While some people may be tempted to use caffeine to boost their energy, that approach isn’t sustainable and can lead to long-term sleep deprivation. You can prevent this by keeping an eye on your caffeine intake and avoiding it later in the day when it can hinder you from falling asleep.
  • Beware of Alcohol: Alcohol can make you sleepy, so some people enjoy a nightcap before bed. It’s best to avoid alcohol in the lead-up to bedtime because alcohol affects the brain in ways that can affect sleep quality.
  • Avoid eating too late: Your body may have trouble falling asleep while digesting a large dinner. In order to minimize sleep disruptions caused by food, avoid late dinners and minimize especially fatty or spicy foods. Consider a healthy evening snack if you need one.
  • Don’t Smoke: Smoking, including second hand smoke, has been linked to difficulties falling asleep and fragmented sleep.
  • Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleep and sex: Comfortable beds may entice you to use them for other activities, but this may cause problems at bedtime. Keeping activities in your bed limited to sleep and sex will help you establish a strong mental connection between your bed and sleep.

Having Trouble Falling Asleep?

It may be difficult for you to drift off to sleep at first or when you wake up during the night. Here are some tips to help you sleep when you can’t:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Focus on relaxing rather than trying to fall asleep. You can help ease into sleep by controlling your breathing, practicing mindfulness, relaxing your muscles, and working with guided imagery.
  • Do not stew in your bed: Do not connect your bed with frustration from sleeplessness. Getting out of bed and doing something relaxing in low light can be helpful if you have spent around 20 minutes in bed without falling asleep. During this time, do not check the time. Before returning to sleep, take a few minutes to focus on something other than sleep.
  • Try Different Methods: There are many different ways to solve sleeping problems, and what works for one person may not work for another. Thus, you should experiment with different approaches to see what works for you. Don’t assume your changes aren’t working right away, give them some time to kick in before assuming they aren’t.
  • Keep a Sleep Journal: Maintaining a daily sleep journal can help you identify factors that might be affecting your sleep. A sleep diary can help you document how well your new sleep schedule or other sleep hygiene changes are working.
  • Consult a Doctor: Your doctor can give you detailed advice if you are having difficulty sleeping. Consult your doctor if you notice that your sleep problems are worsening, persisting over time, affecting your health and safety (such as excessive daytime sleepiness), or occurring in conjunction with other unexplained health conditions.