We are huge advocates of keeping the body healthy. We practice daily physical movement including cardio, strength, flexibility, dance and qigong. And as important as movement and diet are for the body – SLEEP is equally important! Many of us have given up precious moments of sleep in an effort to “get ahead” but in reality it drastically lowers our performance levels, causes weight gain and irritability, and premature aging! (Yikes – let’s all take a nap right now!!)
Lack of sleep leads to a whole host of possible health problems – such as heart disease, obesity, depression, high blood pressure, forgetfulness, lower sex drive, impaired judgment and reduces productivity.
Here are 10 simple tips for a better night’s sleep.
1. Move around more during the day. Regular physical activity promotes better sleep — helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper levels of sleep. But just like you don’t want to eat right before bedtime, you may not want to exercise right before you try to sleep. Since energetic movement wakes up and energizes the body, you may not want to exercise right before you try and sleep… while exercising earlier in the day can help you sleep… it can have the opposite effect if your timing is off. If you are exercising late at night and notice a problem falling asleep, try exercising earlier.
2. Don’t make your stomach work while you’re resting
A full stomach keeps your digestive system working and awake when it should be resting and recovering. Also eating foods that are “stimulating” (like hot peppers, alcohol, and coffee) can cause a spike in your nervous system and your liver for hours after you eat so make sure to enjoy those earlier in the day. You don’t want to go to bed hungry enough to wake you up or full enough that you are still digesting while you are trying to sleep. Either way it can cause you enough discomfort to wake you up.
It is believed that 10:30 P.M. is the best time for a full cycle of sleep. In Eastern medicine, it is recognized that at 11:00 the restorative, receptive Qi is at its strongest. So being asleep at that time enables the body to store more active, creative energy to use during the day. You can also try doing an evening Qigong session right before bed to help facilitate this. (If your work schedule doesn’t allow a 10:30pm bedtime then try to maintain a consistent schedule… going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. This will help reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and help promote better sleep at night.)
4. Watch what you drink before bed
If you drink very cold water right before bed, your body has to work extra hard to heat it up. That can throw your body into overdrive and make it harder to go to sleep. Also don’t drink right before bed. Also limit the AMOUNT that you drink… those middle-of-the-night bathroom trips can disrupt what could have been a great sleep!
5. Walk Around Barefoot and Give Yourself a Foot Massage.
Walking around barefoot balances the energy in the body and helps to clear your mind. It also massages the massage points in your feet correlated with sleep. It’s amazing how a simple foot massage (you can do it yourself or get your spouse to do it) can help you become more relaxed and calm. TIP: If you have trouble massaging your own feet, you can freeze a small bottle of water and use it as a massaging foot-roller – it’s also great for aches and inflammation!
6. Keep the Room Dark.
If you can clearly see your hand if you hold it in front of your face, then your room is not dark enough. Try to remove any electronics in your room that have bright lights, to make the room darker. Also, recent studies have indicated that the LED displays on tablet computers and e-readers have a negative effect on sleep if you use them right before bed. Maybe whatever you’re doing can wait for the morning?
7. Meditate right before bed.
Rather than tossing and turning when you’re trying to go to sleep, get up and meditate. You can even practice meditation while sitting in bed. If nothing else, following your breath while you meditate will help bring your attention away from any anxious thoughts. Don’t over-think it… even the simplest, most basic meditation will work for this.
8. Try green tea instead of coffee.
Overall, drinking green tea is a lot better for you than coffee. Green tea is very high in antioxidants. It has less then half the amount of caffeine than coffee has, so you’ll have to drink much more of it to disturb your sleep.
9. LET yourself relax!
Stress is often a great contributor to sleep disorders. Which is a vicious cycle because the less you sleep, the more stressed out you feel! When you have too much to do, too much to think about, and you just “can’t turn off your brain”… your sleep is likely to suffer. Don’t just let yourself lay there and THINK! You are training your brain that this is what going to sleep IS for you. If you find yourself going over your “to-dos” for the next day, get up, jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow. A consistent Qigong or meditation practice is the best way to let go of stress and restore peace to your life – and it trains you to more easily find that still silent place in your head that you need to fall asleep.
10. Limit daytime sleeping and nodding-off on the sofa
Naps during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep — especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you need to nap, then keep it short – closer to 10-30 minutes in the middle of the day.
Of course, if you work nights, you need to reverse this – no naps outside of your normal sleeping hours. Also, when you sleep, be sure to keep your windows covered to keep it dark. Otherwise, the light can interfere with your internal clock.
That’s it! These are the top things you can try for a better night’s sleep. Of course, you don’t have to do all of them. Try one of them at a time until you get the night’s rest you are looking for.
Wishing you a restful night and beautiful dreams,
Interesting post, I’d never thought about how there might be an ideal time to go to sleep. Might give try that 10:30 sleep time a try.
I definitely agree with number 7, meditation. I listen to guided meditation before bed and it helps so much. Great for relaxing an anxious mind. It’s a good distraction if you’re the kind of person who can’t switch of your thoughts while trying to get to sleep.
10:30 is officially my new bedtime thank you for the hint I wasn’t necessarily sure when I should be going to bed and I usually stay up a little too late and I’ve been trying to break that habit I’m glad that I was able to get this information at this point in my life.
I’d like to put an extra emphasis on number 6 about keeping the room dark. Countless studies agree that it is detrimental to your sleep to be looking at backlit screens right before bed. The light from these devices can trick your brain into thinking that it is still daytime and therefore that it should still be awake when you really ought to be sleeping. If you still must be on these screens before bed, I recommend installing the app F.lux which limits the amount of bright white and blue light on your displays which contribute to keeping you awake. It has really made a difference in helping me ease into going to bed.
You should also keep electronics out of the room you sleep in since I’ve heard they can interfere with your sleeping patterns. Great article by the way!
Actually I don’t sleep with my bedroom in total darkness, but I have noticed that when I put everything totally dark I tend to sleep longer. I do this only on weekends haha as it’s not a practical thing to do on work days.
Very interesting article, there are two items that I can relate to going to bed at 10:30pm, my body is ready to go stop moving, relax and get ready to go to sleep. I may not go to right to sleep at 10:30 but the count down has started by that time.
I try not to drink anything after 7:30pm, I have found any liquids consumed later than that will cause me to get up to go to the bathroom several times during the night, breaking up my sleep.
I have had a new onset of insomnia- stress will do that. Im going to try this tonight and hopefully it will work. I have been tossing and turning and its odd I don’t have much on my mind but my body is just taking forever to fall asleep. Once I do about an hour in I am up. Here goes nothing!
I also have sleep deprivation, anxiety will do that. I’m going to attempt this today, around the evening time and ideally it will work. I have been turning around in bed and its odd I don’t have much at the forefront of my thoughts however my body is simply taking everlastingly to nod off. When I do around an hour in I am up. Hopefully this works!
These are some great tips. The ones I’ve used are 1 and 6. I remember a few years back complaining to a doctor friend about how I was having ‘insomnia’ and most nights I just lay in bed tossing and turning. I was hoping he’d have a quick-fix medical suggestion, but he just told me to try getting some exercise! I tried it, and found that if I went for a run or went to the gym, or even did a slow-flow yoga class, i feel asleep soon after my head hit the pillow! It was a great feeling.
I’m also going to try some green tea today – I have a deal with myself that if I substitute green or black tea (preferably green) for coffee, I can drink as many cups as I want. Even if I get greedy and have 4 or 5 cups, it doesn’t come close to the amount of caffeine I’d get from my normal two cups of coffee.
I needed to read this to remind myself that I am my own worst sleep enemy. I always eat late even though I know its the worst thing for my body and my sleep. I never thought about the cold water bit though. I always down an ice cold bottle of water right before bed. One other thing that should be mentioned is smart phones have an intense effect on sleep. I can always tell when I have been staring at my phone for too long. My mind refuses to turn off. Limit your smartphone activity at least an hour before bedtime and you will notice a big difference!
These are very interesting tips. I, myself, cannot last too much past 10:30 anyway. Sometimes I do have insomnia, I will definitely try to take notes as to whether I have had something to drink before bed. My husband and I have had discussions regarding the bedroom being completely dark because he works at night and the sun shining in wakes him up.
Very good information.
Ive been trying some of these tips… personally it is difficult to keep the room dark. I find that since I suffer from insomnia I tend to want to sleep in further knowing the room is dark. Even with the alarm clock, somehow I feel like I am dreaming. Tea definitely helps to wind down!
Does anyone that suffer from insomnia find themselves procrastinating to go to sleep? I feel exhausted and the minute I hit the sheets its like my brain says its Party Time.
I haven’t been sleeping well lately, so I’m going to have to try some of the tips that you’ve listed here. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t eat before bed the hard way, too often I’ll wake up with nasty stomach problems in the middle of the night because I decided to finish the Chinese food in the fridge.
I used to have no problem falling asleep, but for the last year or so I’ve been in and out of weird phases of insomnia. I think my problem is #9 – I just can’t let myself relax. It’s as though I get stressed about not being able to fall asleep and then I just can’t fall asleep. A vicious cycle! Too much thinking and talking inside my head. It’s just so hard to break the pattern.
I’ve been using an app similar to FLUX too. This works great, I used to wonder why I had a hard time falling asleep before. I used to read emails and check my phone before I sleep not knowing the blue light can hae a negative effect on your sleep.
These are great tips. I have been having trouble sleeping lately and it is not doing me any good. I will try these tips and hope I get much needed rest.
After rereading this article I realize that there may be so many people with sleep problems. For instance,number nine alone can be the cause of serious sleep deprivation. Almost every person has some sort of stress on a day to day basis; it’s part of being an adult. And number ten, oh, how that would be nice to be able to take a quick nap. I hit the floor running from the moment I awake till the moment I sit back on the bed at night. I usually take a deep sigh and think to myself, okay, another day over. But as I sit there I am also thinking of what I need to do for the next day, so stress, anxiety, and worry are points that need to be addressed in everyone’s daily sleep cycle, I guess.
Wow, a very good read. I agree to all of it. I usually make it a point to sleep already by 10:30pm or by 11pm. So that I could wake up at around 6 in the morning and so I will be up and ready, full of energy for the day.
My mother (who is already retired) usually has trouble sleeping, it might be because she is not too active anymore. She just stays in the house, do gardening and even have a little nap in the afternoon sometimes.
I never heard about not drinking water before bed but that makes a lot of sense. Everyone has heard about not eating but just plain old water can really do the same thing it sounds like. I have always been a bit of night owl so I need to work on getting to bed earlier. I usually go to bed late and wake up early. I am so much less productive per hour when I feel drowsy. I am not sure how to change my sleep pattern but I will work on it. Thanks for the insights!
I am aware of the importance of a good nights sleep but I have to admit that I don’t get this very often. I promised myself that I would take better care this year and I need to do so. There are several tips in this article that I really need to work on, in order to get myself into a better place health-wise and well rested.
I had some insomnia last year. I used methods very similar to these to get rid of it and I started sleeping better very soon. I didn’t know that a foot massage could help with that.
I think these are really great advice. I’ve always thought about how sleep can benefit us and we need to try our best to make the most of it at night. I’ve noticed that for my body I can’t take a nap, otherwise, that would interfere with my sleep.
As someone who struggles with insomnia, this list is a god-send. Although, I often feel a stress/guilt combination because I think that my sleeping struggle is due to laziness. It’s easy to say I won’t eat spicy food before bed, but a couple of hours later, I’m working on school papers and eating Korean ramen. It’s easy to say I’ll got to bed by 10:30, but my four hour-binge of The Good Wife has me up until 2 a.m. I think it’s good to see someone else saying this. Maybe it’ll help me enforce my own rules.
This is a great post, I like number 10, and sometimes I can get a little tired before bed and want to take a nap before dinner just to get a boost of energy. I also like that green tea is a better choice than coffee. I thought tea had more caffeine than coffee so I’ve never even researched the other benefits of tea. I normally have a normal bed time because I am so busy during the day that I can’t wait until everything is done so I can get some rest and start all over again.
Thanks for an interesting article. I usually sleep without problems but some days I just can’t fall asleep at all! It’s so frustrating to spend hours lying in bed wide awake, especially when you have to get up early in the morning. I also have this problem whenever I’m sleeping anywhere but my own bed at home. Hotels, sleepovers – I can spend up to 5 hours trying to fall asleep.
I can also siggest drinking rooibos tea for a peaceful sleep. This teas is good for calming down and it doesn’t contain caffeine. I love tee very much and I can’t skip a big cup of tea in the evening so I usually drink either green tea or rooibos because black tea has caffeine in it.
In addition to all the tips mentioned here, I have found that keeping track of all your sleeping habits also encourages you to stick to the healthy ones and gradually discard the unhealthy ones. Ever since I have been using a sleep tracker application on my iPhone, I have been able to track the duration and efficiency of my sleep, and also the conditions which affect my sleep e.g. alcohol intake, coffee intake etc.
I had no idea about #2! Wow, I am actually very surprised I had no clue about it. It makes a lot of sense, because recently I’ve had a very spice-full diet, and whenever I’ve tried to get some shut eye, I feel a little wired. I will keep these tips in mind, many of them I didn’t really know had any effect on sleep! Thanks for the great read and interesting tips.
I suffer from insomnia, mostly (I think) related to anxiety. Some of the tips mentioned in the article were actually new to me, for example, no cold water before bed. Meditation is something I constantly hear would help me greatly, but my mind is so disquiet that I fear I will not be able to properly meditate — I have even tried it before. In any case, thanks for the article. Very nice tips all around. Will definitely try some (most) of them. Whish me luck though, my insomnia is so severe it borders on pathological 🙁
We need to have sleeping routines, but there are a number of factors that influence the way we sleep. Just recently my kids have been coughing a lot at night and I wake up and with the heat I take time to fall asleep again. These are phases that need to be overcome quickly.
I think we all deserve to read about this article
because a “better night’s” is essential to all of
Well, for me, I already do what is mentioned in the first tip (physical
activity) but can’t really seem to engage in
meditation (tip 7), I should really try this out!
I think that all these tips here have a big value, at the same time nº1 tip is the one that calls my attention the most. Moving around during the day is something we need to do to sleep properly and be healthy. I mean, our body was made to be moved and living a sedentary life will not help us in any way, quite the opposite.
I like the whole not making your stomach work while you are resting. This is always something that I have struggled with, because I used to think that sleeping with a full stomach was good for me, but that was when I was younger and better able to fall asleep. Now I know that the opposite is true and it was a rough little transition to having to deal with that hunger feeling before laying down to bed. It is worth it though, because when it comes to sleep I need all the help that I can get.
This is very much true and that is why I never eat before going to bed. Also, I have a light dinner a couple of hours before going to bed because let’s face it, if the body is resting it doesn’t need energy right?
Thanks to your article I have now begun sleeping a lot better. Falling asleep is a routine that everyone needs to diligently follow if they want to get the rest they need. It is so very important for us to make sure that there is nothing in our lives that disrupts our sleep patterns. We need to begin seeing sleeping as a vital part of our overall health. Many disregard this and allow all manner of things to steal their sleep. With the focus on better sleep, our overall health and well being will improve.
Thank you so much for this. Such easy tricks that can accomplish so much. Sometimes we can’t see that our sleep is getting worse and worse because of our daily habits and not diseases/illnesses. I would recommend this post to anyone who has trouble sleep, because people always seem to recur to sleeping aids, which can be dangerous, instead of trying to change their damaging habits. It’s like a smoker going to the doctor to find out why he feels like he can’t breathe. There is no worse disease than our own bad habits. Thank you for this post, seriously.
The issue is that many times the most simple things are the ones that can make the biggest difference in our lives. So we need to pay attention to the small (big!!) things, like relaxing, having green tea instead of coffee, sleeping enough hours and so on… 🙂
All of these – above all a regular (set) bedtime for me. Mine is 11pm rather than 10.30pm for going to sleep – although I often go to bed by 10.30pm, I like to read a little before turning out the light.
Another must is a well-ventilated room. I prefer a cool bedroom to one with central heating.
Another thing that may help, is exercising close to your bed time. Exercising will raise your body core temperature and then lower it down once you’re done working out which will signal the body that it’s time to go to sleep.
This week my sleep schedule was all messed up and I am feeling exhausted, this just proves how important sleep is. So all in all we need to realize that sleeping is a priority or else we won’t be able to enjoy our life properly.
I once heard that the more fulfilled and joyful our lives are the less sleep we need. Is this really true?
I really had no idea that walking around barefoot balances the energy in our body and that it can help us sleep. That is something simple that I can do and I am really hoping that it is effective for me. I also can use another reason to try to get a foot massage out of the wife. I seem to go through phases in my sleep patterns so this will be particularly helpful during those down times. Thanks for sharing.
Some stellar tips here – I’m sure I’m not alone in knowing that I need to get away from the computer and the TV an hour before bed – and get away from that ‘blue’ light that interferes with your circadian rhythms, but it takes a lot of discipline to keep it up. Another thing to implement is making sure you actually get up at the same time every day as well, even over the weekend. Your body doesn’t understand our weird unnatural 7-day cycles!
These seem like some pretty good tips. I know that I have been sleeping better since I switched from coffee to tea. And I’ve also always heard that you shouldn’t eat right before going to sleep, but I didn’t know why. This was very interesting.
I disagree with number 4. I’ve always practice drinking a glass or 2 of cold water everyday before I go to sleep. I drink another glass or two of water right when I wake up. I’ve done so for years and I haven’t experience any discomfort. I’ve read somewhere that doing so makes it that you can flush away toxins in your body while you sleep. By the time you wake up, you can release those toxins. It keeps you from gaining excess weight.