“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” – Homer, The Odyssey

Call me crazy, but there are few things as satisfying as a really good night’s sleep. You wake up energized, revitalized, feeling great. You spring out of bed, ready to start a brand new day – life is good.

So why do people treat sleep as a luxury, when it’s a biological neccessity? We often live by a sleep-when-I’m-dead mentality, but the truth is you’ll be dead without sleep, because nothing kills productivity and mood like too little sleep.

It’s not always our fault though, sometimes it’s just hard to get a good night’s sleep, we don’t live in the same world as our ancestors did: electrical lighting, entertainment centers, smartphones. We are well and truly in the age of the electron.

If it sounds a bit grim, don’t fret. We’ve rounded up a motley crew of better-sleep tips designed to transform you into Sleeping Beauty as soon as your head hits the pillow. Enjozzzzz….

37 Tips to Get a Great Night’s Sleep

  1. Schedule your sleep

    One of the keys to good sleep is consistency. This means that you need to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekend.

  2. Watch the weekends

    You may think you can make up for lost sleep on the weekend, but that’s only part of the story. First, you won’t be able to completely pay off the sleep debt from the week. More importantly, you’ll mess with your biological clock, which means Monday morning isn’t going to be pretty. The takeaway from this is: don’t use weekends to make up for lost sleep, get enough sleep during the week.

  3. Craft your own sleep routine

    Having a bedtime routine can make getting a good night’s sleep much easier because it signals to your mind and body that sleep is on the way. It also helps you to stick to your sleeping schedule because it becomes another healthy habit, so put together a sleep-inducing routine which works for you.

  4. Take a hot bath

    Well a warm one actually. Research has found that having a warm bath 1 – 2 hours before bed can help induce sleep. The reason it works is because body temperature is one of the signals to sleep, but it’s not raising the temperature which works, it’s actually a drop in body temperature which ushers you into sleep mode. So stick to the warm baths, not the hot ones. It also works with a shower, but not as powerfully.

  5. Dim the lights

    About an hour before bedtime, dim the lights to help your body enter into sleep mode. Light levels signal your pineal gland to release the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, before the advent of electricity, we were active only during the daylight hours and slept close to sundown. Civilization may have changed dramatically since then, but your body hasn’t, bright lights make it think it’s day time. Not good for getting some shut-eye. Candle-light, if you’re careful, is an great way to dim the lights and prepare for sleep – the ones that only last an hour work well. Or a dimmer switch to make it more contemporary.

  6. Add ambient sound

    Some people find that playing ambient music in the background helps them drift off to sleep. Put it on a timer so that it fades out after you’ve fallen asleep. You may even like to listen to a familiar bed time story; make sure it’s one you know well so that you can drift off.

  7. Turn on white noise

    White noise has the unique ability to mask sounds which would otherwise disturb you while sleeping. You can get a white noise generator, some clock radios have them, or try out http://simplynoise.com/. The simply rain version is awesome, but you may want to dial down the thunderstorms a bit.

  8. Wear the right sleep attire

    Sleep is a bit like going to the Oscars, only a lot less formal, a lot less people (hopefully) and it’s in the comfort of your own bed. The point is, you’ve got to dress the part. You want to be slightly cool (temperatures no higher than 70 degrees Farenheiht) and wear non-restrictive clothing – keep it loosey goosey.

  9. Wear socks to bed

    Research has found that increases in blood flow in hands and feet was the best predictor of sleep-readiness, and based on this there is speculation that keeping extremities warm could help induce sleep more quickly. Cold feet have also been found to be particularly disruptive to sleep. So wear socks to keep those toes warm!

  10. Disconnect from your devices

    The smorgasbord of entertainment options and greater connectivity comes with a price, over-stimulated brains and bodies which have trouble turning off. This is bad news for sleep, but it can be corrected by disconnecting from your devices – smartphones, T.V. and the Internet – at least one hour before bed. Take some time to unwind, read a book, listen to some relaxing music, do whatever works for you and you’ll ease into sleep as comfortably as slipping on a pair of fluffy bunny slippers.

  11. Keep a sleep journal

    In the same way that journaling helps tremendously with fat loss, so will keeping a sleep journal help with getting a great night’s sleep. You want to track things like the time you went to bed, what time you woke up, did you wake up during the night, the quality of your sleep. You also want to track other factors like what you ate before bed, what you did before bed (e.g. watching T.V. or on the computer), did you exercise, did you drink coffee. Do this for two weeks and you will have painted a good picture of what you need to change.

  12. Make your bedroom a sanctuary

    The best sleep environment is like a cave: cool, dark and quiet. These are the key factors to make your bedroom into a sleep-inducing den. Of course, you want to make it pleasing to the eye, and to the touch too. Keep it clutter-free and smelling good; use the good quality sheets and blankets; have warm lighting and keep it aired. And remember: sleep and sex are the only two things you should be doing in your bedroom (so kick out the television).

  13. Keep your mattress springy

    Your mattress will need to be replaced after about 5 years of regular use; you shouldn’t be able to feel any of the springs and it should be a good level of firmness.

  14. Eliminate sneaky light sources

    Light can creep in from all kinds of places, which is a problem when it comes to sleep because it inhibits production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Research shows that even a little bit of light can dramatically inhibit melatonin production, so try to eliminate all light sources when the lights go out. This includes making sure you dim any electronic devices (even your digital alarm) you have in the room, or better yet, have them in another room.

  15. Stop smoking

    Research has shown that smokers are four times as likely to feel unrested after a night’s sleep. It’s speculated that the stimulating effects of nicotine can cause withdrawal symptoms each night, contributing to disturbances in sleep. Smoking is also a high risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea.

  16. Cut the caffeine

    Surely you jest! Refrain from the sweet nectar of the gods, I don’t think so. We know that caffeine is a stimulant, that’s what makes it great, but it’s a double-edged sword: what’s good when you’re awake ain’t that good when you’re trying to get to sleep. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 14 hours, which means you should only drink it in the early morning or switch to decaf (just make sure there really is no caffeine in them). You also want to avoid caffeine in cola drinks and some teas. Caffeine is also a diuretic which means you’ll want to pee more, which isn’t good when you’re fast asleep.

  17. Exercise regularly

    Amongst the myriad of other health benefits, regular exercise also improves the quality of your sleep dramatically. There is a caveat though: if you exercise in the evening it has to be about 4 hours before you go to sleep otherwise it could have the reverse effect and keep you up. Research has shown that regular exercise in the morning makes getting to sleep easier (the study was on postmenopausal women, but it’s worth trying anyway regardless).

  18. Write it down

    Worrying about stuff got you up all night? Write it down. One of the biggest saboteurs of sleep is worrying about the same things endlessly without resolving the issue. So the key is to write it down along with the steps you’ll take to get it resolved. Once you’ve got your concerns and a plan of action down on paper, you’ll have a much easier time of getting to sleep.

  19. Relax into sleep

    Wouldn’t it be great if you could flick a switch and instantly fall asleep? Instead we have to transition into it – it’s like driving: you’ve got to slow down when you want to come off the highway. In the same way you want to ease yourself into sleep. A great way to do this is to have a relaxed bed-time routine, 20 minutes to 1 hour long. For instance, preparing for the next day, getting ready for bed and reading are some good ways of capping off the day.

  20. Drink some milk

    Milk contains L-tryptophan (an amino acid), which has been shown in research to aid sleep.

  21. Have a little snack

    Going to bed hungry can interfere with sleep, so if you’re feeling peckish have a little pre-bedtime snack. Studies have shown that a combination of carbohydrates and proteins containing tryptophan are the best sleep-inducing combination. This combination boosts serotonin; a natural feel-good hormone. Some good combinations are: toast with turkey, peanut butter and a banana, cheese and crackers, cereal and milk, yogurt.

  22. Keep it cool

    Studies have shown that the ideal room temperature for a good nights’ sleep is between 65° and 75°F. Remember a mild drop in body temperature induces sleep, but if you are uncomfortably hot or cold then you are more likely to wake up. In other words you want to be just right. Interestingly, the temperature of your bedroom also affects the quality of your REM sleep (i.e. the dreaming part). So keep this guideline in mind, your bedroom should be like a cave: cool, quiet and dark.

  23. Smell your way to sleep

    Research shows that the scents of certain herbs alter your brain waves, helping to induce relaxation and send you to sleep. Here are a few you may want to try in your bath or spritz on a pillow before going to bed: lavender, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, mandarin, jasmine, vanilla, rose, lilac and ylang-ylang.

  24. Kick Fido and Kitty out

    Pets can be a disaster if you want a good nights’ sleep. From snoring, to running around like a demented squirrel, there comes a time when you just need to kick them out. If your pets are waking you up too early for food, get them on a strict feeding routine and stick to it without compromise; same time every day. For your sleeping sanity, it’s worth it.

  25. Breathe deeply

    Breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply through your nose – inhale for 4 seconds, pause for 2 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds. When you breathe in make sure you gently fill your abdomen. Do this for a count of 10 breaths and then start again at 1. Repeat until you fall asleep.

  26. Relax your muscles

    Progressive muscle relaxation is a simple technique to relax all the muscles in your body. You start at your toes and inhale, hold the breath for 3 seconds and tense your toes as much as you can, release the tension and the breath together. Work slowly up through all your muscles from toes to head. Remember, no muscle is too small, get them all.

  27. Relax your mind: visualize

    Visualizing a peaceful scene can help you drift off to sleep. For example, you can imagine you are drifting on a river of sleep, being carried effortlessly from wakefulness to sleep. Find a visualization that works for you, here are some more examples, or create your own.

  28. Use self-hypnosis

    Using self-hypnosis is a good way to enhance your ability to relax as well as give yourself suggestions on being able to enter into sleep easily.

  29. Deal with your issues

    Residual stress from your day can keep you up all night if you let it. If your sleep is disturbed by worry, anxiety or anger then you need to deal with the issue(s) causing those emotions. First, determine if it’s something within your control to change, if it is that’s good: write down the issue as well as the plan of action you’re going to take to change it, then take action when the opportunity arises. If it’s not within your control to change, then you need to find a way to just let it go, which takes practise but is possible (and is so worth the effort). You can try something like The Sedona Method, meditation or whatever works for you.

  30. Avoid alcohol…

    especially before bedtime. Try to finish your last drink at least 1 hour before you go to sleep. Although depending on how much you drink it can take up to 15 hours to metabolise all the alcohol in your system. Alcohol reduces your sleep quality, when it metabolises it tends to wake you up later in the night.

  31. Watch what you eat…

    especially before bedtime. Give yourself enough time to digest your meal, going with a full stomach may disturb your sleep. Digestion slows down at night and fatty meals take much longer to digest; spicy and acidic foods are also one you want to avoid before bed.

  32. Hydrate during the day

    It’s much better to get enough water throughout the day, rather than to try to cram it in just before you go to bed. If you often find yourself thirsty before bed time, remember to drink enough water through the day; that way you can stay snug under the covers rather than having a middle of the night bathroom encounter.

  33. Take a nap

    If you’re tired during the day, it’s better to catch up on sleep with naps rather than changing your sleeping schedule. Avoid longer naps because you’ll probably have trouble getting to sleep later; 20 to 30 minutes is ideal – set an alarm so you don’t nap too long (especially if you’re at work).

  34. Take a sleep enhancer

    Most sleep experts discourage the use of sleeping pills and supplements as a long-term solution to getting to sleep. If you go down this route you could try melatonin pills or valerian root tea.

  35. Don’t oversleep

    If you oversleep you risk upsetting your sleep schedule and as a result, your biological clock. It’s much better to wake up at the time you normally would, but catch up on sleep with daytime naps. As a rule, if you’re consistently waking up tired, or oversleeping, then you need to adjust your sleep schedule to get more sleep.

  36. Check your medication

    If you’re on medication some of them could be affecting your sleep. Make a list of all the medication you’re on and check with your doctor.

  37. Talk to your doctor

    If you’re concerned that you may have a sleep disorder, have a chat with your doctor for a recommended treatment.

Troubleshooting: I woke up… Now what?

  • Don’t get out of bed

    If you’ve just woken up, you can often get back to sleep if you just stay put and keep a positive expectation that you will fall asleep shortly. The more active you are after waking up, the harder it is going to be to fall asleep again.

  • Get out of your head

    Next, if you’re inside your head worrying about things, then write it down along with an action plan, or let it go – use the relaxation methods outlined earlier to help with this.

  • Focus on relaxing

    Make the goal to just relax, there’s no need to put the pressure of going to sleep on yourself. Use the relaxation techniques to get into a state of relaxation, which is still beneficial to your body and mind.

  • Do a low-energy activity

    If you can’t get to sleep within 15 minutes then the best thing to do is to get up and do a low-energy activity with dim lighting – the lighting is important because bright lights will cause your brain to release waking-up hormones. Such as reading with a low-watt reading light, or writing in a journal or meditating. You want to do something relaxing until you feel tired enough to fall asleep again.

Phew! We’ve packed in a lot of great-sleep tips; hopefully they will give you some ideas on how to beat the stay-awake blues so you can get the perfect nights’ sleep. To sum it up, remember the key things: adequate sleep is a biological necessity; bedrooms should be cool, dark and quiet; use your bedroom for two things: sleep and sex.

Your turn: Do you have trouble sleeping? What works for you? Have you used these some of these tips? Which ones are you going to try? Let us know!

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