Do you toss and turn when you go to bed, struggling to fall asleep? You’re not alone. Between hectic work schedules, screen time before bed, uncomfortable mattresses, and disrupted circadian rhythms from too much artificial light at night, getting ample, high-quality sleep is a challenge.
But sleep is critically important. It gives your body and mind time to recharge, consolidating memories, regulating hormones, strengthening immunity, and improving concentration and mood. Making simple lifestyle changes guided by science can work wonders to help you fall faster, sleep more soundly through the night, and wake up feeling well-rested.
Research-backed Tricks for Getting Better Sleep
1. Stick to a Consistent Schedule
Your body loves consistency and thrives when you go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm, so you feel sleepy at night and energized in the morning. Experts recommend sticking to your set schedule every day, even on weekends and vacations.
2. Optimize Your Bedroom Environment
From lighting to temperature to furniture setup, your environment impacts how easily you fall and stay asleep. Keep your room cool, between 60 and 75° F; remove electronic devices and screens; install light-blocking window curtains; use a white noise machine; and choose a comfortable mattress and pillows. These measures make for better sleep hygiene.
3. Develop a Soothing Pre-Bed Routine
Transition smoothly into sleep mode by establishing relaxing nightly rituals 1-2 hours before bedtime. Activities like taking a bath, sipping herbal tea, reading fiction, trying gentle yoga poses, journaling thoughts, and dimming lights cue your brain and body that bedtime is nearing.
3. Limit Exposure to Blue Light
Studies show that blue light exposure from TVs, phones, tablets and computers suppresses melatonin production—a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Avoid using electronics 1-2 hours before bed or use blue light-blocking glasses and device filters to prevent stimulation and delayed bedtimes.
4. Get Regular Bright Light Exposure Upon Waking
Just as limiting blue light exposure is key before bed, getting bright light first thing in the morning has the opposite effect, boosting alertness and energy. Open blinds, step outside, or use a therapy lamp for 30 minutes after waking to regulate your sleep-wake rhythm.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Anxiety and racing thoughts keep many people up at night. Mindfulness, focused breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation and visualization crowd out distracting thoughts and bring on feelings of calmness. These techniques increase tranquility and prime your body for rest.
6. Exercise during the day
Moderate exercise during the day, like a 30-minute walk, helps improve sleep quality at night. In contrast, vigorous late-night workouts can be too energizing. Getting your body moving releases tension while later increasing serotonin levels to make winding down at night easier.
Be Careful with Naps While daytime naps recharge your batteries, long or late naps can make falling and staying asleep difficult. Limit naps to 30 minutes before 3 p.m. If you require a siesta, keep it brief so you still feel like dozing off at your desired bedtime.
7. Cut Off Caffeine Early
Caffeine lingers in your system for hours, stimulating brain activity, so stopping intake at least 5–6 hours before bed prevents it from interfering with sleep. Restrict coffee, energy drinks, black and green tea by mid-afternoon for sounder slumber.
8. Skip Big Meals Before Bed
Heavy meals too close to bed can trigger indigestion and prevent restful sleep. However, a light snack of carbohydrates and proteins a couple hours before bed may help since hunger and low blood sugar can also disrupt your cycle. Stick to lighter options like whole-grain toast, yogurt and fruit.
Create a Cool, Comfortable Bed Investing in a quality mattress, breathable sheets, and comfortable pillows tailored to your favorite position goes a long way towards helping you fall asleep faster and minimizing nighttime awakenings. Make your bed welcoming so when bedtime comes, you’ll look forward to settling in.
9. Supplement with Melatonin if Needed
If lifestyle and environmental tweaks don’t improve your sleep enough, talk to your doctor about short-term melatonin supplementation. This over-the-counter hormone regulates your body’s circadian rhythms. Taken 30 minutes before bed, low-dose melatonin often helps recalibrate your cycles.
Putting science-backed hygiene practices and habits in place can help you clock more hours of high-quality sleep each night. With consistency, you’ll train your brain and body to power down at the right times, so you wake up feeling refreshed. Pay attention to what works best for your lifestyle and needs. Over time, proper health practices become second nature, making falling asleep easier and more peaceful.