Do you feel well-rested on a daily basis? If you simply laughed at that question, you’re far from alone. More than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep these days, and it’s not without consequence. People who don’t get enough shut-eye don’t just feel the unpleasant effects of fatigue; sleep-deprived people run the risk of experiencing extreme irritability, weight gain, short-term memory loss, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. It’s crazy to think that all these risks can be solved—or at least reduced—simply by sleeping better. So what is it that you can do to achieve your best sleep ever? Keep reading these 70 sleep tips and start snoozing better immediately. And for more great life advice, check out 40 Life-Changing Habits to Follow After 40.
Drink cherry juice before bed.
Tart cherry juice contains a natural amount of melatonin and it might be the key to tacking on some necessary minutes to your REM sleep cycle. A study in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that drinking cherry juice before bed helps to add an average of 84 minutes to a person’s sleep. 84 minutes? We’ll take it. And for more pre-bedtime habits to adopt, check out the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets For Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.
Don’t nap more than 20 minutes during the day.
Oversleeping during a nap might just be your downfall. If you’re catnapping for 20 minutes or more, it’s time to rethink your strategy, as your midday siesta could be the reason you’re not sleeping well or through the night. And if your sleep troubles are coming from 35,000 feet, master the 10 Best Tricks For Sleeping on an Airplane.
Have an alarm signify bedtime.
Whether you set an alarm on your phone, through FitBit, or download a specific sleep timer app, having an alarm go off at, say, 10 p.m. is a really great way to remind you to wind down at the same time every night. Once the alarm goes off, start adhering to your night routine.
Have a night routine.
Your night routine is the list of stuff you do each night to prepare for bed. It also helps your body recognize that bedtime is coming and it’s time to start shutting down. Brushing your teeth, flossing, washing your face, removing your makeup—these can all be a part of your nightly routine. And for more ways to optimize your shuteye, learn the 40 Ways to Sleep Better in Your 40s.
Eat more fish.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that fish—sockeye salmon, in particular—can help promote better, more restful sleep. Fish contains high levels of Omega-3s, a fatty acid that helps you drift off to dreamland. (If you can’t stomach the flavor, spring for some Omega-3 capsules instead.) For more healthy eating tips, learn the 50 Foods That Will Make You Younger.
Learn your sleep position.
According to the Better Sleep Council, there are six major sleep positions. Once you learn yours, you can optimize your sleep by picking up the right pillow for your back and neck. To learn what pillows your should rest your head on, bone up on the 10 Best Pillows for a Better Night’s Sleep.
Change your circadian rhythm.
By using an app like Alarmy or Step Out!, which force you to do some mental gymnastics (like solving a math problem) before turning your alarm off, you can, over time, reset your circadian rhythm. After using the app enough, you’ll naturally stop hitting snooze every single morning. (Don’t pretend you don’t do that.)
Let some air in.
Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology revealed that leaving your door or a window open—despite that action potentially spitting in the face of years of ingrained habit—will help air flow, reducing levels of carbon dioxide, a known sleep inhibitor.
Get a heavier blanket.
A study in Occupational Therapy and Mental Health found that weighted blankets can help promote better sleep by copying the feeling babies have while being swaddled—except for adults. Shoot for a 12-pound blanket; according to researchers, that weight has the best results.
Turn off electronics an hour before bed.
You’ve heard it time and time again: The short wavelength blue light that our technology emits is not good for us, especially when we’re trying to go to bed. An hour is a decent amount of time for the body to wind down, so be sure to turn off all electronics an hour before you’d like to be asleep. If you’re having trouble with this, learn the 11 Easiest Ways to Curb Your Smartphone Addiction.
Do high-intensity exercise.
A few minutes that qualify as “vigorous activity” can really do wonders for your shut-eye. Active people, generally, report feeling more fulfilled after a night’s sleep, according to a 2013 National Sleep Foundation survey.
Use sleep aid medication sparingly.
Once and a while, it’s okay to seek help if you’re having trouble falling asleep. You can take a Tylenol PM, NyQuil (if you’re sick), a dose of melatonin—but try to use these aids only sparingly. Some sleep medicines are addictive and might have side effects. Always use caution when using a pill to induce slumber—it might make you groggy the following morning too, and that’s never fun. For more on proper sleep, read about how our correspondent did cleaning sleeping for two weeks, which changed her life.
Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant, so it exacerbates insomnia and keeps you awake even longer.
Cut back on the drinking, too.
Alcohol, that is. Avoiding alcohol is good for sleep on all fronts—the tactic helps combat sleep apnea and pesky snoring that either makes your sleep uncomfortable or keeps your partner up. Sure, alcohol can help you pass out quicker, but when you’re under the influence, you’re more likely to staccato wake-up throughout the night. For more on snoring, learn the 5 Reasons You’re Snoring Every Night—And How to Stop It.
Read a book before bed.
For bookworms, reading can be a great stress reliever, which is why it’s recommended to read before you hit the hay. In 2009, University of Sussex researchers found reading reduced stress by 68 percent, causing people to be more relaxed and thus more susceptible to sleep.
Get a white noise machine.
White noise machines can make falling asleep so much easier for certain people. If you like your sleeping space to be quiet but not eerily so, a white noise machine is a great investment.
Eat smaller meals.
Eating heavier meals, especially right before bedtime, is not a good idea—unless you want to toss and turn all night. The body isn’t supposed to be doing double time while it sleeps, so make sure you’re all digested before you start to snooze.
Create a separate space for work.
The bed is for sleeping and sex. That’s it. Your bed (or your bedroom, for that matter) should not also moonlight as your workspace. Get that desk (and your laptop and your planner and all those cords) out of there and create a separate environment to work in. Once these lines are drawn, the body will know that when it’s in bed, it’s either going to be rewarded with sex or sleep. Oh, and speaking of sex: if you’re looking to really spice things up, consider buying one of these.
Download a meditation app.
There are tons of great apps out there (and podcasts, too, for that matter!) that can help you catch some Zzz’s. Headspace, for example, is primarily a meditation app, but the soothing sounds of the recordings are also great to fall asleep to.
Don’t sleep with pets.
Cuddling with Fido is so much fun (and so Instagram-worthy!) but studies show that people sleep loads better when they don’t share the bed with their pets. That’s not to say pets aren’t entirely devoid of health perks, though: Learn the 15 Amazing Health Benefits of Adopting A Pet.
Don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
A late-night workout could cause you to feel wired, making it harder to fall asleep. Finish all vigorous exercise at least three to four hours before you hit the pillow.
Avoid pain relievers with caffeine in them.
Coffee isn’t the only sly dog that contains caffeine. Some pain relievers—such as Excedrin Migraine and Midol—pack caffeine in their pills. So, if you’re popping one to banish pain, it might also be banishing your chances of sleep.
Sleep on your back.
When you sleep on your back, you’re keeping your body’s natural curve aligned and aren’t challenging it in any way. As such, it’s widely known as the healthiest sleeping position. Why not give it a go?
Discard night lights.
You want the room as dark as possible to promote the healthiest possible sleep. The more light, the more room there is for sleep disturbances.
Invest in dark curtains.
When you sleep, the room should be pitch black. You know that saying about a “cold dark place?” When it comes to sleep, it’s true.
Wake up the same time every morning.
The best thing you can do is create a sleep routine and stick to it. That means going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Once your body gets into this routine, you’ll have an easier time both falling asleep and waking up.
Avoid spicy food at night.
Staying away from the hot sauce not only will help you fall asleep quicker but it will also keep nightmares and bad dreams at bay. Another win-win!
Avoid junk food at night.
Ice cream, candy bars, gummy worms, chips—junk food has been proven to alter your brain waves. And while you’re sleeping, that’s an especially bad thing. Aside from working harder to digest while you’re asleep, the body might also become susceptible to nightmares—which could prematurely wake you up—because it’s working overtime.
Stop drinking coffee after 2 p.m.
Newsflash: Coffee is chock-full of caffeine and caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you energized and awake. Ensure that coffee’s effects have worn off by the time you hit the sack by avoiding coffee after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. And for more on the relationship between coffee and sleep, read up on How The “Coffee Nap” Trend Could Change Your Life.
Keep your body temperature cool.
A natural drop in body temperature sends a message to the brain that it’s time for the Sandman to come. Keep your temperature cooler at night by investing in a cooling pillow or spritzing your face with cool water.
Get rid of your TV.
You don’t need to take it out to the curb. Just take it out of the bedroom. Your room is for sleeping and sex. TV is just a distraction that emits more blue light.
Turn your phone completely off at night.
Airplane mode is the runner-up here, but it’s better to turn your phone completely off and stow it away in a drawer. That way, you won’t be tempted to check it if you wake up during the night. Plus, the blue light won’t keep you up.
Wake up with a regular alarm clock.
Digital alarm clocks have a glow (and a snooze button). Waking up with a regular alarm clock requires a bit more effort from you, which will get you up quicker.
Keep your clock out of view.
But you need to be able to see the time when you wake up! Wrong. If you keep waking up in the middle of the night to glance at the clock and ascertain how many more hours or minutes you have left until you need to get up, hide that clock away in a drawer or face it the other way.
Leg pillows relieve back pain.
If your back is aching, how can you be expected to have a lie in? Situate a pillow between your legs, while laying on your side, to alleviate any stress on your back. And for more ways to eradicate any spinal stress, read our Comprehensive Guide to Conquering Lower Back Pain Once and For All.
Protect your mattress from allergy triggers.
No one wants to think about what kinds of creepy crawlies could be infiltrating your sleep haven, but it’s true: Mold and dust mites (and their droppings) can make their way into your mattress. If that’s the case, they could be triggering your allergies, which makes it that much harder to doze off. Solve the problem by sealing your mattress, pillows, and box spring with air-tight, dust-proof covers.
Get outside after waking up.
The bright morning sunshine sends a message to the body: It’s time to wake up and stay up! Stay outside for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to reap the full benefits of the morning rays.
Finish eating at least an hour before bedtime.
Small, low-fat snacks are usually digested by the body in about an hour, so, as a general rule, you should stop eating about an hour before bedtime. For bigger meals, however, you’re going to want to finish those up a couple of hours before bedtime.
Don’t eat in bed.
How restfully can you possibly sleep if you keep getting poked in the ribs by the rice cake crumbs you left in the bed earlier?
Invest in a lavender pillow mist.
Why count sheep when you can just reap all the benefits of aromatherapy by sniffing lavender? Spritz some lavender mist onto your pillow before bedtime. The scent is scientifically proven to slow your heart rate and blood pressure, prepping you for sleep.
Drink chamomile tea before bed.
Chamomile has long been used to combat insomnia, as it triggers an increase of a chemical called glycine, which relaxes your muscles and nervous system.
Dim the lights 2-3 hours before bed.
Dimming the lights two to three hours before bed is a great way to signify to your body (and brain) that you’re winding down and preparing for a restful night’s sleep.
Turn on a fan or air conditioner.
If a white noise machine doesn’t float your boat, you can always try turning on a far or an air conditioner, which doubles as a way to circulate the air in the room better. Win-win!
Don’t drink water at least two hours before bed.
Or any liquids, for that matter. One thing that’s sure to keep you up all night is the recurrent urge to get up to pee. Nip that right in the bud and cease drinking all liquids two hours before you go to bed.
Yes, really—like a child. Research out of Johns Hopkins University indicates that blowing bubbles before bed can help you fall asleep faster, due to that fact that this innocuous activity has outsize benefits on relaxing both the body and the mind.
Use lavender bags in the laundry.
Lavender bags are available at Trader Joe’s or on Amazon. When you’re doing your laundry, simply throw your sheets and comforter in the dryer along with a lavender bag. The smell will linger each time you curl up in your nest, surrounding you with the scent of slumber.
If your hearing is super sensitive or you’ve got a noisy, snoring sleep partner, earplugs might do the trick, as they’ll help block out the surrounding sounds and get you to focus on what’s going on internally.
Remove any jewelry before bed.
Sometimes, if you fidget and wake up throughout the night, your jewelry is the culprit. Take anything bulky off before you shut your eyes; that hulking wrist-watch could really stop you from getting the optimum amount of sleep.
Jot down whatever comes to your mind.
If the reason you’re having trouble getting a wink is because you keep thinking of things you want to write down, don’t dismiss them and say, “Oh, I’ll write them down in the morning.” Write them down now. Once you get it all out, you’ll be able to sleep more peacefully because you won’t worry about forgetting.
Avoid sleeping in on weekends.
Adhering to a strict schedule is important all seven days of the week. If you have to wake up every week day at 7 a.m., but sleep in until 10 a.m. on the weekends, it’s really going to disrupt your wake-up pattern the following week.
Adjust room temperature to 60-67 degrees.
The best temperature for optimal sleep is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Farenheit. If you’re either too hot or too cold, you’ll wake up constantly throughout the night to adjust your blankets and clothes.
Trade your mattress in after 7-10 years.
Forget the company warrantee. Your health (and the quality of your sleep!) is more important. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting a new mattress every seven to ten years. Any longer than that and you won’t be getting the support or comfort you need from your mattress.
Believe it or not, your brain relies on your feet to signify that it’s bedtime. The warmth of socks is what triggers this message in your brain, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Nix the underwear.
Confining your genitals can lead to yeast infections and vaginosis—and that’s sure to keep you up at night.
Paint your room with a matte finish.
Never high-gloss; always matte. Matte paint finishes are allegedly better for fighting off insomnia.
Use separate blankets if you’re sharing a bed.
If you spend the entire night in a blanket tug-of-war with your partner, there’s a solution for that: Separate covers. Fight less, sleep more.
Journal before bedtime.
Writing down your thoughts before hitting the sack is a surefire way to begin the process of emptying your mind. If there are certain tasks you have to do the following day that you can’t stop thinking about, it will ease your mind to get them down on paper before turning in for the night. That way, you won’t worry about forgetting the tasks and you’ll have a to-do list ready to go the next morning as a reminder.
Do some stretches before turning in.
Stretching does wonders for relaxing your muscles, which is exactly what you’re looking for if you’re winding down before bed. For the best stretches to bring into your bedroom, learn the Yoga Moves That Will Transform Your Sex Life.
Take a warm bath before bed.
When it comes to sleep, body temperature is crucial. That’s why taking a bath before getting your beauty sleep is a recipe for a good night’s rest: Your body temperature will raise in the tub and then, as soon as you climb out, it will cool down quicker, signifying to the body that sleep is near.
Wash your pillow and sheets.
Don’t even give dust mites (and other allergens) a chance to mess with your sleep cycle. Be proactive by washing your sheets once a week with hot water on a hot dryer cycle. Wash your pillows four times a year with the change of the seasons.
Go to therapy.
Or at least consider it, especially if you’re having some serious insomnia issues that stem from more than just buying the right pillow mist or getting comfortable. If you are having an exceedingly difficult time shutting off your mind for bed, talking through your issues with a therapist might be of great benefit.
Try progressive muscle relaxation.
It’s just a fancy way of saying “focus on each muscle group, tightening each for 10 seconds, then continuing onto the next group.” Laying in bed, start with your feet. Tighten the muscles of your feet and count to 10. Then move your way up the body: Tighten the calves, the thighs, the glutes, the abs, all the way up to the muscles in your face. Progressive muscle relaxation is proven to help people with insomnia fall asleep.
Snack on cheese and crackers.
You already know that heavy meals before bed will keep you up but did you know that if you’re hankering for an evening snack, cheese and crackers are your best bet? The cheese fills you with tryptophan, which induces drowsiness, and the complex carbs in the crackers make a perfect pairing.
Find the perfect position.
The best position is one that supports the natural curve of your neck. That way, you don’t wake up stiff, unable to turn your head.
If you snore, sleep on your side.
Snoring is a pain for the partners of snorers, but believe it or not, the annoying sound can also keep up the very person doing it. If you’re guilty of wheezing while you sleep, try sleeping on your side, as the position alleviates the pressure made when the tongue collapses to the back of the throat. Also try Breathe Right strips, which are effective at cutting out snoring.
Check your medications.
Do you take beta-blockers for high blood pressure, or antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft? One potential side effect of such medications is insomnia. Go over your prescriptions with your doctor to see if there’s anything in there that’s affecting your shut-eye.
Always remove your makeup.
First of all, it’s the best possible thing you can do for maintaining health skin. Second of all, if fake eyelashes are hanging off your face all night while you’re resting, you’re not going to sleep too well. Just take it off.
Don’t sleep with your hair up.
Especially if you are prone to headaches and migraines, sleeping with your hair tied up isn’t a good idea. Experts suggest avoiding tying your hair up in the center of your head (as in, a messy bun or a tight, top-of-the-head ponytail). If you want it out of your face while you sleep, a low, loose pony is your best bet.
Avoid protein before bed.
Late-night meals high in protein might be affecting your sleep, as protein reduces the amount of serotonin—the amino acid that helps you fall asleep—your body makes. Protein is also more difficult for the body to digest, so you’re causing your body to do overtime while it’s resting, which can keep you up at night.
Visit your doctor if insomnia persists.
It’s okay to seek medical help if sleep truly does evade you. You could possibly be dealing with a disorder like sleep apnea, restless leg, or narcolepsy.
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