15 Things You Could Be Doing to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is important to many, but few people actually do it. Life gets in the way, which leaves you too much to do and not enough time to get those necessary hours. But the hours of sleep you do manage to get should be the best they can be — here are all the things you could be doing to sleep a little better at night.

1. Exercise in the morning

three women doing plank exercise in fitness class.

Morning or daytime exercise is great for sleep habits. | Bojan89/iStock/Getty Images

Exercise helps the body in many ways, including a better night’s sleep. Increased physical activity early in the day can help the body fall into a deeper sleep at night. However, you don’t want to exercise too soon before bed. Since exercise gets the blood pumping and wakes your body up, it may be difficult to fall asleep if you’re on the treadmill just an hour before bed. Try to exercise no less than four hours before you go to sleep.

Next: Let the natural light wake you. 

2. Wake up to bright light

Young woman drinking coffee in the morning

Sunshine is great for your internal clock. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Your internal clock is regulated by light. When you wake up for work in the morning, wake up to bright light. It will help your body learn when it’s time to start the day. And don’t expose yourself to bright light before bed, because the darkness tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. Light is one of the biggest external factors of your internal clock, so waking up to bright light and going to sleep in darkness are essential to a good night’s sleep.

Next: Keep these as low as possible. 

3. Keep your stress levels low

Worried face expression. Human emotion

Try to keep those stress levels low. | SIphotography/iStock/Getty Images

Everyone has a stressful work day every once in a while. But keeping those stress levels low is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. You might lie in bed worrying about a presentation for work, a financial situation, or something else, which prevents you from falling asleep. If you’re stressed, you’ll likely also find yourself waking up in the middle of the night. Try to remind yourself that every stressful situation is temporary and has a solution. High stress levels will prevent your body from getting the rest it needs.

Next: Don’t have too much of these. 

4. Avoid liquids a couple hours before bed

Drinking water

Too many liquids before bed will disturb your sleep cycle. | seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

Have you ever had too much water before bed only to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom? When you drink too much liquid before bed, you interrupt your body’s sleep cycle by having to wake up. Avoid drinking liquids one to two hours before bed to make sure you won’t need to wake up during the night. Also, use the bathroom prior to falling asleep for even more confidence you’ll be able to get through the night.

Next: When you eat is just as important as what you eat. 

5. Eat an early dinner

Mediterranean style food

An earlier dinner is better. | OksanaKiian/Getty Images

It’s easy to get side tracked in everyday life and not eat dinner until late. But the earlier you eat, the better. Business Insider reported that those who ate their biggest meal of the day before 3 p.m. were more likely to lose weight than those who ate later. Also, the body’s “hunger hormone” becomes more active at night, and eating a big meal before you go to bed can disturb your sleep cycle.

Next: Avoid this past 2 p.m.

6. Don’t drink coffee past 2 p.m.

Coffee shop

Too much caffeine late in the day could keep you up at night. | YakobchukOlena/iStock/Getty Images

Caffeine can seriously inhibit your ability to fall and stay asleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can make you feel more alert. Your heart rate increases with caffeine consumption, and the alertness can make it hard for your body to relax. While you may not directly feel the effects of caffeine for more than a few hours, it’s still coursing through your body for several hours after you drink it. Don’t drink any caffeine past 2 p.m. to make sure the effects have worn off by bedtime.

Next: Consistency is key in this area. 

7. Keep your sleep schedule consistent

Couple sleeping

A consistent sleep schedule is important. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

Consistency is key when it comes to keeping your internal clock sharp. Try to wake up around the same time each morning and go to bed around the same time each night. This helps train your body to know when it’s time to fall asleep. It will ultimately result in a deeper sleep than if you were to go to bed at 10 p.m. one night and 2 a.m. the next night. Also make sure you give yourself at least seven full hours for a night’s sleep, and try not to get more than nine hours.

Next: This type of liquid isn’t good before bed, either. 

8. Avoid too much alcohol

alcohol pouring shots

Alcohol before bed won’t give you a good night’s sleep. | Bogdanhoda/Getty images

Drinking too much might help you fall asleep quickly, but it won’t help you stay asleep. Alcohol affects the production of chemicals in the body, so as the alcohol wears off during the night, your sleep cycle becomes disturbed. You might notice that after a night of heavy drinking, you’re only able to get a few hours of sleep — that’s why. Having one drink with dinner is fine, but limit the amount of alcohol you consume before bed.

Next: Temperature affects your sleep, too. 

9. Keep your room temperature low

Gray bedroom with handmade pillow

A cool room temperature is better for sleeping. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Evidence has shown that cooler sleeping temperatures facilitate a deeper sleep. The body temperature drops during the sleep cycle, and experts suspect warmer temperatures against the cooler body could cause troubling sleep patterns. Studies have shown that the ideal sleeping temperature is somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Too-cold temperatures might also disturb sleep patterns.

Next: Comfort is definitely important. 

10. Your mattress matters

Mattress

Don’t settle for a bad mattress. | Vadimguzhva/iStock/Getty Images

The comfort level you have during sleep plays a major role in successful sleep patterns. If you’re sleeping on an old, lumpy mattress, your body may be uncomfortable during the night, causing you to toss and turn. Older mattresses can also lead to back pain, higher stress levels, and might even make you sick. A newer, better mattress might be more expensive, but the cost is worth an overall healthier lifestyle.

Next: Naps are great, but keep this in mind. 

11. Don’t nap for more than 90 minutes

Man asleep on his side

Naps are good in small increments. | YakobchukOlena/Getty Images

Napping is a good way to keep your body and mind in top shape throughout the day, but a nap that lasts too long isn’t good for you. It can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm, so don’t sleep for more than 90 minutes. All you need is 20 minutes to feel refreshed, but a whole hour and a half is equivalent to one full sleep cycle. So if you had a horrible sleep the night before, those 90 minutes might really help you out. Set an alarm to make sure you don’t sleep longer, though.

Next: Both of these things will help you sleep. 

12. Do yoga or meditate late in the day

Young woman folding blue yoga mat

Yoga and meditation are good ways to reduce stress and get more sleep. | fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

One good way to reduce those stress levels and relax your mind and body before a night’s sleep is to meditate. You can also relax with yoga, but since it gets your blood pumping, don’t do it right before bed. But taking even just 10 minutes to meditate before bed can put those stress levels to rest and help you hit the hay much quicker. Ideally, the longer you meditate, the better, but squeezing in just a few minutes will still be worth it.

Next: Keep your this separate from your sleep space. 

13. Don’t work from your bedroom

Excited Woman Working At Desk In Design Studio

Excited Woman Working At Desk In Design Studio | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

When you do work in your bedroom, your mind starts to associate your bed with your work. Since work tends to be stressful, it’s best to find a separate spot in the house to get work done. Working from the bedroom creates a bigger mental correlation between work and sleep, which is the opposite of what you want to think about just before bed. Instead, set up a desk in your family room or den to do work.

Next: What you watch may affect your sleep. 

14. Don’t watch a scary movie before bed

Couple watching a movie

Scar movies before bed aren’t the best idea. | iStock.com/LDProd

Watching a scary movie is appealing to some, but that doesn’t mean you don’t actually feel scared after. Scary movies heighten stress levels, and they can also affect your sleep cycle by causing you to have trouble falling or sleep. You might wake up during the night with those thoughts of the scary movie still in your head, too. If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, you may want to choose something more lighthearted, such as a comedy.

Next: Electronics are not your friend. 

15. Turn off the cell phone

handsome man playing with cell phone

Put away the cell phone before bed. | iStock.com/zhudifeng

This one goes without saying: Bright light from electronics affects your sleep cycle. Spending time on your phone before bed means you’re exposing yourself to blue light. Blue light affects the production of melatonin, a chemical your body needs to properly sleep. Shut off your electronics at least one hour before bedtime and immerse yourself in a good book. Your body will thank you.

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