You know how it goes.
It’s 3am and you’re wide awake.
Suddenly trying to solve the mysteries of the world in your head.
So you lay there for a few hours until you finally get to sleep…
… and 10 minutes later the alarm clock goes off.
If this happens to you as often as it did to me, you know how annoying it is.
But it’s also bad for your health leading to all sorts of problems affecting your heart, brain, and weight.
In my own journey of trying to figure out how to sleep better, I’ve tried tons of things.
Most didn’t work – but some did.
In this article, I’ll share how to sleep better so that you can solve this problem for yourself.
First, let’s cover some basics.
According to Dr. Eric Olson at the Mayo Clinic, the big reason is that a lack of sleep contributes to a whole range of issues including making you more susceptible to infectious diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
I noticed that before I started sleeping better, I was gaining weight and getting sick pretty regularly.
For a healthy immune system, the ideal amount of sleep for most adults is 7 to 8 hours of good sleep each night.
Teenagers need 9 to 10 hours of sleep.
Younger kids may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
But, here’s something interesting – more sleep isn’t always better.
For adults, sleeping more than 9 to 10 hours a night makes falling or staying asleep even more difficult.
Plus it gives you that weird groggy, foggy, nauseous feeling most of the day.
Depending on the sleep issues you’re suffering from, some of these will work better than others so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with.
Here’s a collection of strategies that have helped people (myself included) consistently get a solid 8 hours.
Schedule Your Sleep
The trick here is to go to bed and wake up every day at the same time – including weekends.
Your body’s ‘sleep-wake cycle’ is the 24-hour sleep pattern – typically 16 hours awake and 8 hours asleep.
It’s controlled by your circadian rhythms which are ultimately controlled by your body’s master clock located in the brain.
This master clock controls many of your biological functions over a 24 hour period, such as the release of hormones and body temperature changes, so it’s best not to mess with it.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Try to avoid going be too full or too hungry because that stuffed feeling or growling stomach can keep you up.
If you like caffeinated drinks, it’s best to enjoy them before 4pm. The effects of caffeine take 4-6 hours to wear off.
And you should probably avoid that cocktail or glass of wine before bed. Because even though it may relax you at first, it can really disrupt your sleep later in the night as your liver processes it.
No Long Naps
I have a friend who takes a long nap every day and I’m always amazed that she can sleep at night.
Short ‘power naps’ during the day have some benefit, but if you’re taking long naps it can confuse your master clock and make it difficult to get to sleep.
Try Sleep Supplements
There are many natural supplements that help you sleep. A few of these have really worked well for me.
Melatonin: This well-known sleep supplement has been proven to help people fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality without any side effects. It also helps your body’s circadian rhythms adjust when you’re traveling and dealing with jet lag.
Glycine: Studies show that taking this amino acid before bed can help improve sleep quality by lowering your body’s core temperature.
Valerian Root: Many studies show that taking 500 mg before bed promotes relaxation to help insomniacs fall asleep and improve sleep quality.
Cannabidiol: CBD is the chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that reduces anxiety to promote sleep and reduce insomnia for people suffering from chronic pain.
Magnesium: Every cell in your body needs this mineral to function in addition to improving relaxation and improving sleep quality.
L-theanine: 100mg – 200mg of this amino acid before bed can improve relaxation and sleep.
Lavender: This herb has a ton of health benefits including a calming effect to improve sleep.
Get Some Exercise
Sometimes poor sleep just means you haven’t expended enough energy.
This is where exercise really helps since it is one of the best ways to improve your sleep and overall health.
In people with severe insomnia, studies show that exercise offers more benefits than most drugs.
In this one, exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30%, and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.
And even though exercise is a great way to sleep better, just make sure you’re not doing it right before bed because that can energize you at the exact time you should be winding down.
Reduce Blue Light at Night
Blue light – which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts – tricks your body into thinking that it’s daytime.
Try to reduce nighttime blue light exposure by wearing glasses that block blue light, installing apps that reduce blue light on your laptop and smartphone.
It’s also smart to stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights two hours before bed.
Set Up Your Bedroom for Sleep
It’s the room where you sleep, so it’s no secret this is an area that needs attention.
To optimize your bedroom for sleep, try to minimize external noise, light, and artificial lights from your devices like alarm clocks.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, too since studies show that external noise – usually from traffic – can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues.
Pay attention to the temperature since this can impact sleep even worse than external noise. 70 degrees (F) seems to be the optimal temperature but experiment with it to find the right temp for you. I like it a little cooler.
Get a Comfortable Bed
The quality of your bed and bedding plays a major role in how you sleep.
Mattresses are always going to be subjective – what I like may be too soft or too firm for you – so it’s important to try before you buy.
Recently, we got a new mattress and added an adjustable bed frame.
Raising the upper body even slightly when you sleep can help reduce snoring and relieve pressure on your back.
Make sure to flip your mattress a few times a year and replace your sheets and pillows.
Some sheets such as linen and tencel are more breathable than others and can help regulate your body temperature if you run hot.
Manage Your Stress
This is a big one to get a handle on.
When I wake up in the middle of the night – 3am or 4am – it’s usually because I’m stressing out about something.
Before I leave work each day, I do a ‘brain dump’ of all my projects and tasks so that I can leave work at work and quiet my over-active mind that’s always wondering if I forgot something.
Meditation is a great stress reliever, too.
Meditating for 10 minutes in the morning and just before bed helps quiet my mind so I can get to sleep fast.
It’s no secret that sleep plays a huge role in your overall health.
Not sleeping well can increase your risk of obesity, heat disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The tips and strategies I’ve shared here can dramatically help you sleep better – if you implement them.
Wondering which ones to implement first?
We worked with Dr. Ralph La Guardia, MD, a Healthy Living Association medical specialist with an emphasis in natural health solutions and author of The Doomsday Book of Medicine, on a way to determine that since there are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions.
Over the years he noticed that most patients who complain about poor sleep fall into one of four categories.
So, he developed a system for first identifying the personal sleep category and then solving core sleep issues with a quick six-question quiz.
Take the 1-minute sleep quiz to discover your sleep type and and I’ll email you an easy 3-step sleep plan customized to your specific issues that will have you sleeping like a rock in no time.