11 Ways to Sleep Better

Sleeping BetterStudies show that far too many of us are not sleeping well, and lack of good-quality sleep can lead to more than just feeling tired: everything from traffic accidents and poor work performance to crankiness, illness, and a less-than-attractive appearance can be the result of sleeping poorly.

To look and feel your absolute best, you need to get approximately seven to nine hours of deeply restful, quality sleep each night. Here are eleven simple tips so you can start sleeping like a baby. Find out how to get a great night’s sleep, right here:

1. Create a sleep-conducive environment.

The room you sleep in is vital to getting rest. Make sure it is dark, clean and has good ventilation. Try to keep the air fresh and the room temperature between 60 and 65 degrees for the best sleeping conditions. Make sure you have the right amount of blankets and soft pillows. If it isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to sleep. Also minimize noise and light during sleep by using ear plugs and window blinds.

2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

Caffeinated drinks and food such as coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate will keep the mind stimulated much longer than some people think.

And while alcohol may feel like it’s putting you to sleep, its sedating effect won’t last the whole night. Alcohol is a depressant; although it may make it easier to fall asleep, it causes you to wake up during the night. As alcohol is digested your body goes into withdrawal from the alcohol, causing nighttime awakenings and often nightmares. Excessive alcohol use can lead to dependence, and the withdrawal from alcohol dependence can also affect your sleep.

Nicotine is also a stimulant and should be avoided near bedtime and if you wake up during the night. Thus, having a smoke before bed, although it feels relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream. And by the way, maybe you should think about quiting smoking for good.

3. Exercise regularly.

Working at the office might make you sweat mentally, but it’s not giving your body enough work. People who work physically strenuous jobs experience fewer problems with insomnia than those with office jobs because their bodies feel exhaustion too.

Get plenty of vigorous exercise early in the day so you’ll be naturally tired come bedtime. Try working out for as little as 20 minutes and your body will feel stimulated. Exercise will also help you get more oxygen to relax more. Remember not to exercise at least a couple of hours before bed so that you have time to wind down afterward.

4. Have a bedtime schedule.

Your life may not be routine, but your body likes it that way. Try to fall asleep and wake at the same time each day-yes, even on the weekends. Figure out how many hours your body needs to feel rested and schedule your sleep that way, even on nights you don’t feel tired-it’s good practice and your body will appreciate it. Once your body gets used to a routine, it will naturally want to fall asleep at the designated time.

Keep your biological clock going in the right direction, otherwise you will be fighting against it.

5. Keep bed a place for sleep.

The bed should be for only one thing: sleep … well, two things–but only for sleep and sex. Many people tend to read, work, watch television, some even eat in their beds, but your mind should never associate it with anything else. Let your mind and body identify that comfy spot with sleep.

Also, don’t watch TV or even so much as look at a computer screen at least 30 minutes before you lie down. The light from both a television as well as a computer monitor mimic the same intensity of light as sunlight. This fools your body and brain into thinking it’s nowhere near time for sleep. Also the best way to fall asleep is to clear your mind of all thoughts-the last thing you want is to lie in bed awake and thinking. If that happens, get up and do something non-stimulating, then try falling asleep again.

6. Warm milk or herbal tea.

Looks like Mom had it right when you were a kid. Milk contains calcium to help you relax, while the warmth is also soothing. Milk also has an amino acid in it called Tryptophan that increase the levels of serotonin and/or melatonin in the brain which slow down brain activity. It’s science folks.

But dairy products aren’t always right for everyone-in that case, have a cup of tea. There are many herbal types that are made specifically for sleep aide, but chamomile, anise, fennel and lavender are known for their soothing and relaxing qualities.

7. Relaxation: massage, warm bath, meditation.

There are plenty of ways to relax, yet not enough people do it. You can simply take a bath in warm water containing a cup of bath salts, as long as the water isn’t too hot. A nice massage after work or even a quick back rub from your spouse can do the job. Relieving tension and stress will help you clear your mind before bed so you can concentrate on sleep and nothing else. Play soothing music-even ambient noise will drown out street noise-while aromatherapy also has relaxation qualities, so you may put a drop or two of soothing essential oil of lavender or Roman chamomile on your pillow.

Meditate. No, don’t cross your legs and hum, but focus on relaxing…if that makes sense. Take deep, long breaths. Tense each muscle one at a time from head to toe. Focusing on doing this takes your mind off of other things and you’ll be in lala land in no time. Certainly there are other benefits as well. The Transcendental Meditation technique has been shown to produce deep rest, reduced anxiety, and very effective relief from insomnia.

8. Have a “going to bed” ritual.

Do you have to think about washing your hair? How about showering?

If you’re like most people, these are periods of lost time where you’re doing something but you don’t actually have to think about doing it. They’re so automatic that you can daydream about anything else and come back down to earth when the task is complete. If we can establish such a state before sleep by establishing a repeated pattern, then we’ll set ourselves up for a perfectly relaxed state.

A typical pattern may be:
1) Read for some time
2) Brush teeth
3) Turn on fan
4) Set alarm

After following such a pattern for long enough, you’ll not only induce the relaxed state, but you’ll condition yourself to make the whole process more effective. Like Pavlov’s dogs, once that fan gets turned on (for example) our pre-programmed physiological relax-sleep response will kick in.

9. Don’t nap during the day.

I know it may sound contradictory as I already wrote about the benefits of napping, but practically speaking if you sleep too long during the day, then this will disrupt night time sleep, so it’s important to find the right balance. But if you can’t find that balance you better stop napping during the day.

10. Don’t eat before sleep.

A light snack may be sleep inducing, but a heavy meal too close to bedtime interferes with sleep. Digestion takes lots of energy and will keep you awake. Also spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night. Foods containing tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) might keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.

But if you do get hungry close to bedtime, try eating something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy. Carbohydrates such as bread or cereal will do the trick.

11. Medication.

Insomnia stems from a number of reasons, and while it is usually due to stress or anxiety, it can be associated with physical disorders. If you find simple methods aren’t helping you fall asleep, it’s time to see a doctor.

Though doctors will probably suggest sleep tips first, they can also prescribe drugs to assist you in sleeping. Always remember that medicines have potential side effects, and though they can help some people beat insomnia, they may not always work.

These are the majority of the things I have either tried or actually do routinely. And remember that by improving your sleep you will have a dramatic impact on your body composition, performance and health. So good luck, and Sleep Well!

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45 Comments

  • Great article! I have never been one who could go to sleep right away, rather I have to lay in bed for awhile. I think several of your recommendations will be very helpful in getting a good night’s rest.

  • Marco says:

    Thanks for the tips – regarding 10 – any idea what is a good amount of time to have between the evening meal and going to bed?

    Thanks, Marco

  • michaelgvh says:

    How are number 4 and 8 different?

    10 would have been a better round number. Should have combined them.

  • Andrew Greve says:

    As far as eating before you go to sleep, every time I eat I feel tired, so I dis-agree with that statement. Though is may take energy to digest food, it doesn’t personally seem to keep me awake. The television fact is another one I tend to disagree with. I have sleep with my television on when I go to bed for at least the past 15 years, and actually find it hard to fall asleep, or back asleep, without one one. The alcohol one I don’t agree completely with, it does help me fall asleep, but I find that after a good night of drinking (this is coming from a Wisconsin man) that I sleep very well through the night, most time with out ever waking up at all. I am not saying that your suggestions are incorrect by any means, perhaps these things work great for you. This is just my opinion on the subject, and what I think about it.

  • siong1987 says:

    This is a great article for me. But, I sleep for about 8 hours everyday. But, I will be headache everytime I wake up.

    Why?

  • Jesse says:

    Andrew, I agree with you on the Television one. When you’re on a computer all night, it really ends up not making a difference. Your body simply gets used to it. You get tired enough to fall asleep pretty fast anyway. =)

  • Ryan says:

    It may not be politically correct to say this, but here goes:
    Tip # 12-
    Masturbate. Masturbation is a natural way to release the chemicals in the brain that help you relax. During orgasm, the body usually tenses than releases muscles causing them to also relax. Masturbation can help you sleep.

  • Noscera says:

    To Michaelgvh…

    A ritual and a schedule are two completely different things. If you don’t know the difference, go to dictionary.com.

  • Anne says:

    Great post!
    Perhapses some warm milk could help too.

  • Paul says:

    Research has shown that being cold actually prevents sleep. If you are trying to pull an all nighter, one of the recommendations is to make yourself as cold as possible. I liked your list of sources at the end of the article. Very professional.

  • Anne says:

    A little warm milk might help too if you up for it.

  • Cletis says:

    Eating a large meal at night is the worst of them all.

  • mr. ritual says:

    In item #8 I think you forgot subitem #5, masterbation.

  • Madam Pince says:

    I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for this article, but everything in it are tools I’ve read for decades. I went to my doctor five years ago complaining about my trouble sleeping, but he refused to give me meds for longer than a week. When I was hospitalized for major surgery in 2003, my surgeon wouldn’t give me anything either, despite the fact that the nurses were seriously disturbed by my crazed sleep behavior (screaming, thrashing, strange voices) and noted it in my chart.

    Then this past February, I went to my doctor with my zillionth case of upper-body muscle spasms, severe depression, and of course sleep problems, and after a few pokes, he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia — and THANK GOD, gave me a prescription sleep aid. I’m still having disturbed sleep, but so far, my research hasn’t revealed any type of way to actually prevent dreams. I would be much better off if I could just switch off my brain circuitry at bedtime.

    But anyway, thanks for including medication at the end. Most articles get very preachy about that, say you don’t need it. BS. Severe cases require it.

  • Spencer says:

    There’s not enough Tryptophan in milk to cause drowsiness. Sorry.

  • Vincent Toms says:

    I have to say I recently started a regular exercise routine, and I’ve been sleeping great. I know it isn’t exhaustion because I have more energy now than I’ve had before. However, when I go to bed I fall asleep immediately and don’t wake up until morning. I have to vouch for the exercise thing. Good article

  • Vincent Toms says:

    I have to say exercise has been the key to me sleeping well. I started an exercise program last week and thus far I’ve been sleeping like a baby. I don’t think it’s exhaustion because I’m full of energy until I get ready for bed, then it’s lights out.

  • vega says:

    What about Turkey? Everyone knows what they feel like after Thanksgiving dinner.

  • kandk says:

    Great article.
    I think 1,3 and 4 have helped the most.

  • Madness says:

    I find that alcohol actually helps with sleep. It especially helps if you take a long time to fall asleep at night.. what I have found is that a bottle of spirits – say brandy or whiskey – will go a long way in helping to fall asleep rapidly (some people call this ‘passing out’ although I do disagree, one cannot put a price on a good sleep).

  • TJ says:

    But two hours of sex is the same as four hours sleep.

  • ClickME says:

    All of this seems pretty common sense to me.

  • Dan says:

    Nice set of tips … and good to find something about better sleep on the front page of digg!!

  • Ivan Minic says:

    Needed these ;) Thanks

  • NoSleepy2 says:

    I haven’t slept well in two years – but then again, that’s hold old my son is…

    Happiest lack of sleep I had.

    But man an I tired.

    But other than that, why people had bright, light, airy bedrooms is beyond me. Bedrooms are for sleep and should be dark, quiet, and contemplative.

  • Woemwood says:

    The articles is very well written and is almost 100% correct
    however the comments made by some are quite thoughtless,
    it remind’s me on someone saying to me, well my father smoked
    all his life and he diet when he was 98 years,so then smoking
    is not really that bad,it is just in the mind of the individual.It portrays the way people think,and the the way a Society operate’s and function’s is the way it thinks.

  • Kraven says:

    Good tips, I should put these into practice.

  • Naggle4 says:

    Yo Woemwood–

    Yo dat’z _deep_. Nigga 4 real.

  • Chaoticevl says:

    This may not be the best place to ask this but, what the heck. I don’t have much problem getting to sleep it’s more getting a restful sleep. I know when a person sleeps at some point their supposed to hit Rem sleep and start dreaming. I rarely seem to dream, and while I know not everyone remembers when they do dream, I remember every dream I have. So I’ve got 2 problems, when I don’t dream I wake up tired and still sleepy, and if I do manage to dream i wake myself up every 10-20 min, which leaves me exhausted as well. Any suggestions.

  • Does herbal tea not have caffeine? I’ve heard that drinking tea can help you go to sleep, but often that advice is followed by “don’t drink caffeinated drinks like tea” close to bedtime.

    What gives?

  • caca says:

    yea, people are always looking for a quick and easy fix to everything- everyone wants to be buff but no one wants to eat right or exercise, everyone wants to be rich but not work for the money, everyone wants to go Heaven but no one wants to die, everyone wants sex but no relationship…..hmmm…you humans are so primitive and lazy.
    Ive heard it said anything worth having is worth working for. You hear that? WORK!! It’s an adejective. An ACTION word!

  • Philip Harrison says:

    Have a look at this : http://www.engadget.com/2006/05/03/axbo-sleep-phase-alarm-clock-reviewed/

    I have one and it does work. The thing I can say is that my energy levels increase much faster during the morning. By the time you are at work you are fully alert(which was not the case before). One other thing to note is that it does not work in the first couple of days, anyway not for me. But after that ‘transition’ phase it has worked as advertised. I have also found(I think) that I have an easier time going to sleep. However, I have no idea if its just superficial or if there is some-kind of correlation with the clock.

  • Soni says:

    I think the best cure for sleeping a really good sex. After me and husband had a sex not just a sex it’s mind blowing sex. At least one hour and half. After you are exhausted.. so you have good sex. Of course your partner mucst be know what he is doing.

  • I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  • I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  • John says:

    Hi all,

    This post contains some very good ideas. I am currently creating a site to help people who suffer from snoring ( http://snoringshop.co.uk )and find this information very useful. I have personally looked into the relazation technique and find it very successful.

    Also some poeple find it easier to sleep with little or no background nose, so why not try earplugs? A Warm drink definately helps as well.

    Regards. John.

  • John says:

    Great post.

    I am currently researching sleep or the lack of sleep for a website I am creating. At the moment being overweight actually can also contribute towards a restless night. Also I cannot emphasis the important of not drinking before going to bed.

    For a large majorty of poeple drinking alcohol actually helps with sleep but hte consquences are normally noticed the following day, such as headaches, slow movement etc.

    Also consider changing your mattress and if possible buy a memory foam mattress as they mould to your body giving you total relaxtion.

    http://www.snoringshop.co.uk

    Regards. John.

  • Jason says:

    Great post… good tips. Keep up the great posts, Ririan!

  • Chris says:

    So you should or shouldn’t drink tea right before bed?

  • Anonymous says:

    I know this post is years old and you have found other remedies, but my case is exactly the same as yours. I am having new problems, hence my search now, but as far as the fibromyalgia and “turning off your brain”…I have been on ambien for years and will always wake up two or three hours into the night. Just recently I lost my insurance and had to start going to the health department. Turned out to be a great thing. I found one of those docs that thinks outside the normal parameters of “grin and bear it, you’ll have to live with it, not my problem, you just want meds” and decided to try something new. In addition to the ambien, he put me on an alpha blocker. Not a beta blocker, an alpha blocker. Alpha waves are responsible for your cognitive thought (list making, anxiety, stuff you need to do), the things that will prevent you from staying asleep. It took about three weeks for it to accumulate in my system, but it’s really been a miracle! I am getting seven to eight hours of sleep now where I used to only get two to two and a half! Anyone who is having trouble staying asleep, mention this to your physician. You’ll be glad you did. I promise! And here’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say…sweet dreams!

  • Thanks for posting this, am I OK to use this information for a school project?

  • Stop Anxiety says:

    Ya it is definitely not a good idea to do anything really work or study related in your room. Although I like to lie down on my bed to read every once in awhile, it is not good to have a desk and do business in your room when your bed is. It makes you want to lie down.

  • Excellent post Ririan!

    I frequently encounter difficulties in falling asleep as I have an erratic sleeping schedule. You see, I work at night shift during weekdays, and a daytime shift on weekends. This made it difficult for me to have a regular bedtime schedule. However seeing your tips here made me think that it’s not that troublesome after all. I can’t wait to put them into practice! Thanks for the inspiration Ririan!

    Oh by the way, I am thinking of posting this into my wordpress blog? Will it be alright with you?

  • Raju says:

    Thanks Ririan

    Nice points to follow.
    I’ll try

  • Art says:

    I keep room darkening shades over the windows, make sure there is no light of any kind, put on a “sleep” CD through speakers on both sides of the bed, and I fall asleep fast, sometimes even before my girlfriend finishes my blowjob. Yes, oral sex is very soothing and relaxing.

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