We need to know about how to sleep better at night. Sleeping strengthens our mental and physical health. Adequate sleep improves our mood, brain, heart, immune system, vitality and weight and helps us perform well at home or the workplace. If we do not get recommended amount of sleep, there could be severe consequences. Less sleep can severely affect our energy, productivity, emotional balance, and weight management. Our lifestyle choices and daytime habits can negatively impact our sleeping schedule. Many of us struggle at night to get a good sleep and find ourselves wide awake at 3-4 AM.
But we can take over the control of our sleep by following a few simple guidelines. The cure for sleep difficulties can usually be found in our daily routine and the lifestyle we lead. If one follows the proven tips below, one can enjoy better sleep at night.
In recent years sleep has been extensively studied because of the prevalence of sleep disorders in many countries, and not enough sleep affects our lives in many ways. The evidence-based tips can help improve sleep quality without a doctor’s prescription.
The tips encompass ventilation and temperature, noise, the level of darkness, food, pharmaceutical drugs, mind relaxation, exercise, and helpful bedtime routines. Interested? Read further to know how to get better sleep at night, naturally.
Knowing how to sleep better at night is essential for our health
Sleep helps us to recover mentally and physically. It promotes storing memories, influences our mood, and promotes growth in children. Sleeping impacts every aspect of our lives by affecting the way we think, learn, behave, feel, and interact.
Sleep deprivation relates to cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, impaired mental capacity, and poor motor coordination. We have already discussed various sleep disorders. Here, we will focus on sleep hygiene or the conditions necessary for better sleep at night.
1. Don’t drink alcohol or consume Tobacco – how to sleep better at night
Alcohol can make someone drowsy, so many like to have it before bed. But it affects our brain in a way which can lower sleep quality. It can make one wake up often, and thus deep sleep is disturbed. Alcohol consumption decreases the natural nighttime elevations in HGH OR human growth hormone. HGH plays a significant role in our circadian rhythm and has many other vital functions.
Alcohol increases sleep apnea symptoms, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. It also alters nighttime melatonin production, crucial for our body’s circadian rhythm. Studies found that alcohol consumption at night disrupts the pattern of sleep and brainwaves that help you feel refreshed in the morning.
Those who smoke are more likely to not feel as well rested after a whole night’s sleep than non-smokers due to the stimulative effect of nicotine and the night-time withdrawal. Smoking also exacerbates sleep apnea and breathing disorders like asthma, making it difficult to get restful sleep.
2. Clear your mind – how to sleep better at night
We should not bring our work pressure, worries, or memories of adverse events to bed. They create negative energy and disturb our sleep.
One needs to relax their mind before going to bed. Calming the mind before bed improves sleep quality and sleep disorders like insomnia. Some pre-sleep routines can help many people to relax. One can follow specific relaxation techniques such as relaxing massage, light music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, deep breathing, meditation, etc. These will help to sleep better at night.
3. Regular Exercise – how to sleep better at night
Regular exercise improves our sleep quality. Exercising can enhance sleep and, at the same time, reduce symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea. In people with severe insomnia, exercise offers more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduces the time to fall asleep by almost 55% and total night wakefulness by 30%. Movement late in the evening or at night can cause sleep problems. Activities cause overstimulation. Hence there could be an increase in alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.
But exercises in the morning or during the day improve sleep quality and sleep duration. Studies found significant improvement in sleep quality in both men and women when they perform any physical activity regularly. If people addicted to a sedentary lifestyle do aerobic exercise at least four times a week, there is a considerable improvement in their sleep quality, depressive symptoms, vitality, etc.
A brisk walk not only helps one to lose weight but also keeps one up less at night. Exercising boosts the effect of sleep hormones like melatonin. Morning workouts that expose you to bright daylight help the natural circadian rhythm. The more vigorously the exercise is, the more it benefits sleep. But light exercise like walking for just 15 to 30 minutes a day also improves sleep quality. It might take several months of regular exercise before one can experience the full effect of sleep promotion. Therefore be patient and build a regular exercise habit.
4. Sleep in well-ventilated rooms – how to sleep better at night
During respiration, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide (CO2). If we sleep in a small closed room, then CO2 builds up in the room. If the CO2 concentration reaches 1’000 ppm, it affects body functions like thinking, coordination, and sleep.
5. Room temperature, air humidity, and pollution – how to sleep better at night
A “Thermoneutrality State” is when our body doesn’t have to regulate its own temperature and conditions of good sleep are met. We might wake up frequently if we sleep in warm and humid conditions. Low humidity dries out, and inflammation of the respiratory tract occurs.
Ideally, the bedroom humidity should be between 50 to 60%. Vaporizer or humidifier can increase humidity if it is too low. A dehumidifier or an air conditioner decreases humidity sufficiently. Air pollution affects sleep quality by affecting our central nervous system and the upper airways. Pollution leads to reduced oxygen levels in the blood, respiratory acidosis, and obstructive sleep apnea. Pollutants also contain allergens which cause inflammation, affecting sleep quality.
6. Noise and Sleep – how to sleep better at night
Noise bothers our sleep. Therefore we should try to avoid noise in our sleeping environment. The noise of more than 50dB shortens our total sleeping time. Constant sounds in our environment hamper our sleep quality.
Low-frequency noises like sounds of road vehicles, aircraft, ventilation, and air-conditioning units also affect sleep quality by increasing the time it takes to fall asleep and causing one to feel tired in the morning.
7. Turn off all lights – how to sleep better at night
Light has a significant impact on our sleep. Our body’s internal clock – a group of cells in the hypothalamus – receives the signals that the eye sends in the presence of darkness or light. As a response, the hypothalamus generates either a state of sleepiness by increasing the production of melatonin or alertness by increasing body temperature and releasing various hormones.
8. Increase bright light exposure during the day – how to sleep better at night
Our body has a natural clock known as circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm affects our brain, body, and hormones. It also helps one to stay awake and tells the body the time to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright light in the day keeps our circadian rhythm healthy. It improves energy during the day and sleeps quality and duration during the night.
Exposure to daytime bright in people with insomnia improves sleep quality and duration. It also reduces the time it takes to fall asleep by approx 80%. In the case of older adults, studies found that exposure to bright light for two hours can increase the amount of sleep by two hours.
Therefore, try to get daily sunlight exposure for healthy sleep.
9. Reduce blue light exposure – how to sleep better at night
We already discussed how exposure to bright light during the day is beneficial for sleep. But nighttime light exposure has just the opposite effect on our sleep.
This is due to light’s effect on our circadian rhythm. Light makes our brain to think it is still day. This reduces levels of hormones like melatonin, which help us to get relaxed and get a deep sleep.
Electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops emits blue light in large amounts. This blue light is pure evil for our sleep. There are few ways we can reduce exposure to blue light.
- We can wear glasses that block blue light.
- There are apps available for smartphones which can block blue lights.
- One should stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights at least 2 hours before bed.
- At night, when our eyes are exposed to slightest source of light from smartphone or laptop or TV melatonin production is stopped. This our sleep is affected.
10. Don’t consume caffeine late – how to sleep better at night
Almost 90% of the U.S. population consumes caffeine and there are many benefits of it. Caffeine enhances our energy, focus and performance. But if it is consumed later portion of the day, the stimulated nervous system can stop our body from naturally relaxing. In our blood caffeine can stay elevated for more than 5 hours. So large dose of coffee in the evening should be steer clear of to avoid sleep issues.
11. Bed for sleeping only – how to sleep better at night
Our bed must be associated with sleeping. It should not be used to work, eat, or watch TV. Even if you wake up at night, avoid turning on your TV or mobile; do some meditation to relax and calm your mind to get back to sleep again.
12. Long daytime naps – how to sleep better at night
Napping affects different individuals differently. For some people, short power naps are beneficial, whereas for others napping during the day negatively impacts their sleep. Sleeping during the day confuses our internal clock, and one might find it difficult to sleep at night.
Studies found that taking a nap for approximate 30 minutes enhances daytime brain function. But, naps for a long time can harm our health and sleep quality.
13. Do not eat late – how to sleep better at night
Always try to avoid heavy meals late at night. Eating late impacts our sleep quality at night due to the release of melatonin and HGH hormones. Make an effort to have dinner early in the evening. Avoid heavy, spicy, rich foods within two hours of bed. These spicy foods can cause heartburn or stomach trouble. A disturbed stomach can distract one awake.
High sugary beverages like sugary drinks, fruits and snacks before bed can increase the energy level, making one fall asleep. Later, the person might wake up again when the blood sugar drops. Try to include walnuts, pumpkin, beans and lentils, spirulina, spinach, soy, broccoli etc. which are high in L-tryptophan in the evening meal. L-tryptophan increases the production of melatonin and serotonin, which helps to get a good sleep at night. If one feels hungry right before bed, they can eat a small healthy snack.
14. Sleeping and waking up at consistent times – how to sleep better at night
Our body’s circadian rhythm works on a fixed loop, aligning with sunrise and sunset. We need to be consistent with our sleep and waking times. It can aid long-term sleep quality. A study suggests that those who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep. An irregular sleeping schedule alters our circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, which signal our brain to rest.
If one struggles with sleep, one should try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, they might not even need an alarm.
We must sync ourselves with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. It is one of the most vital strategies to sleep better. A regular sleep-wake schedule will refresh and energize us.
Avoid sleeping in on weekends or on holidays. Changes in sleep schedules can cause jetlag-like symptoms. One can get a daytime nap instead of sleeping in. It can make up any sleep debt without disturbing the natural sleep-wake rhythm.
A healthy adult should get at least seven hours of peaceful sleep. Being consistent helps to reinforce the body’s wake-sleep cycle. Suppose one can not fall asleep after going to bed even after 30 minutes. In that case, they can try to read sometime or listen to soothing music or do meditation. Once feel sleepy or tired, do get back to bed.
15. Comfortable mattress, and pillow – how to sleep better at night
The quality of mattresses and pillows affects our sleep quality. Poor-quality mattresses and pillows lead to higher lower back pain. What is the best bedding is very much subjective. One should try to replace their bedding every 5 to 7 years. If one is suffering from poor sleep issues, replacing the mattress can be an expensive but quick fix.
One should try to resolve their worries before bedtime. Concerns of the day can bubble to the surface at night when one is about to go to bed. Stress acts as a stimulus which activates certain hormones that cant let us sleep. Therefore, one needs to wind down before bed. Some relaxation techniques can reduce anxiety and promote good sleep. Try doing deep breathing exercises and meditation. One should inhale slowly and deeply and then exhale slowly. De-Stressing helps a lot to get good sleep.
Suppose there is an urge to move the legs, snoring and burning pain in the stomach, chest, or throat. In that case, these could be symptoms of sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. One must visit their doctor if these symptoms keep one up at night or make sleepy during the day.
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