Why We Sleep: Top 10 Tips for Getting a Great Night’s Sleep

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In the third and final installment of my series on sleep called Why We Sleep, I’m going to share the Top 10 Tips for Getting a Great Night’s Sleep. This list of sleep tips is compiled from information all over the web and in the literature, including the podcast I keep mentioning (which is shared in full at the bottom of this list), the National Sleep Foundation, and Lights Out by TS Wiley. I’ve included some of my sources right within the list, and I’ll link a few more good ones at the bottom of this post to ensure that you know I’m not making this stuff up. I shared the first two tips in the previous two posts in the series, but I wanted this list to be complete, so you get two repeats if you’ve been following along.

Make sure you bookmark this post so you can come back to it as you master each step in the challenge to improve your sleep. I know I myself could stand to better integrate some of these tips!

Why We Sleep (2)photo on the left side of this image taken by Mike Durkin, cropped and color balance altered, sourced through Creative Commons

Top 10 Tips for Getting a Great Night’s Sleep

  1. Use Your Bedroom for Sleeping Only (and sex)

    • It’s not for reading.
    • It’s not for texting.
    • It’s not for working or sending one last email.
    • It’s not for TV. (In fact, get that TV out of your room completely.)
    • And it’s DEFINITELY not for Candy Crush.
    • Train your brain that your bed is for sleeping, and rid any other potential associations you might have that could send your mind into racing thoughts as your head down to sleep.
  2. Dim the Lights an Hour Before Bed

    • Dim your overhead lights if you can, or switch to softer lighting (like lamps and/or candles) once the sun goes down, or at least an hour before bed.
    • Turn off the screens (TV, computer, tablet) an hour before bed to allow your brain to resume proper melatonin production, which helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. If you have to keep working once the sun goes down, reduce your exposure to blue light by using an app like F.lux on your computer or purchasing blue-blocking glasses like these (affiliate link). 
  3. Close the Kitchen 2 to 3 Hours Before Bedtime

    • Foods that are difficult to break down (like heavy meats, greasy, or rich food) can create indigestion if you eat too close to bedtime.
    • Foods high in sugar can create a burst of energy too late into the night, in addition to packing on the pounds, which can sometimes lead to snoring and additional sleep challenges.
  4. Cut off the Coffee in the PM hours

    • Coupling coffee with poor sleep can really become a vicious cycle if you continue to drink coffee into the afternoon. The earlier you can have your last cup of the day, the better. 
    • If you’re on the coffee train, try to cut back to 2 cups a day if you’re having more than that, and absolutely stop before 2pm. 
  5. Dry Up Early

    • Minimize your water intake an hour before bed so your bladder won’t wake you up in the night. 
    • If you drink alcohol, keep it to a minimum — one or two drinks a few hours before bed. A drink or two might help you fall sleep, but having more than that will reduce your REM sleep and make for a restless evening. 
  6. Stay Cool and Comfy

  7. Exercise Early

    • Staying active is important for promoting sound sleep, but working out too late in the day will get your blood pumping too close to bedtime. If you can’t start your day at the gym, make sure you’re cooling down at least 2 to 3 hours before it’s time to go to sleep.
  8. Use White Noise

    • Consider ear plugs or a white noise machine to help drown out the creaks of an old house or the snores of a partner, especially if you’re a light sleeper or have trouble getting back to sleep once you’re awoken.  
  9. If You’re Up, Get Up

    • Don’t just lay there if you’re having trouble getting to sleep. It creates frustration and unrest  in your bed.
    • If after 20 minutes or so, you’re still awake, get out of bed and sit on the couch with some dull reading material (not work, not your favorite sci-fi thriller, definitely not the news). After 5 to 10 minutes, give it another try in bed. 
  10. Wind Down with Peaceful Input

    • Avoid too much mental and emotional stimulation right before bed.
    • If you MUST watch or listen to the news, do it in the morning or afternoon, not in the evening. 
    • If you love Game of Thrones and Daredevil as much as I do, watch them well before you start your bedtime routine.
    • Stay away from phone calls or conversations that could leave you stewing right before bed time.

Thanks for following me through the last three posts on Why We Sleep. I hope you learned a few things and found some of the sleep tips and tricks useful on your journey to a well-rested existence. You might be surprised at how much better you feel after just one quality night’s sleep! Don’t forget to bookmark this post (or the whole series) so that you can revisit this list as you master each of these skills, one at a time.

I also encourage you to subscribe to Inquiring Minds so you can learn all kinds of science-y things you might not have known before! Check out the resources below, including the full episode of the podcast.


Here’s the podcast from Inquiring Minds I’ve mentioned at every turn throughout this series:

Here’s the link to the episode notes so you can follow along:

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/inquiring-minds-matt-walker

Other resources for sleep tips and information to check out if you’re still not convinced:

http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.htm

http://www.sleepeducation.com/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits

https://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-8-sleep-more-deeply/

http://chriskresser.com/how-artificial-light-is-wrecking-your-sleep-and-what-to-do-about-it/


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

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I'm a wellness professional with a Master's in Integrative Health, passionate about spreading health, happiness and personal fulfillment to as many people as possible. I have a professional background in health and wellness, dietary supplements, and nutrition, and embark every day to live a well, balanced, happy life. In being true to myself and what I seek in life, I hope to inspire others to do the same, to cultivate wellbeing in their own lives.

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