Good, deep sleep is extremely important if you are concerned with the quality of your life. During sleep we rebuild our bodies and clean out our brains and other body systems. Poor sleep (and poor sleep habits) can lead to many negative symptoms including brain fog, moodiness and irritability, strained relationships, daytime fatigue, depression and anxiety, and poor blood sugar control. It also affects your appearance, leading to weight gain, reduced muscle tone, and increased aging.
I am no stranger to insomnia. Lying awake in bed for hours wondering if I might be going crazy with sleep deprivation used to be a nearly nightly occurrence for me. I experienced many of the negative effects from not getting enough sleep Now that I’ve changed a few key lifestyle habits, I get MUCH better sleep and feel so much better! Occasionally I will still have a rough night of sleep (or several…hello motherhood!), but there are ways to reduce the frequency of those too.
If you ever have trouble sleeping or consistently wake up tired, I urge you to experiment with these tips. Everyone has the ability to get great sleep! Each of the following bullet points is scientifically backed, confirmed by my personal experience, and deserves its own post. Feel free to read up on any of them on your own, because this list is jam packed with information!
Now, here are my favorite tricks for sleep that will make you wake up feeling like a goddess. Even if you’re a dude.
23 Tricks for Getting Better Sleep
- Cut the caffeine off before 1-2 PM
Although you may stop feeling the energizing effects of caffeine a mere few hours after drinking it, it can still be floating around in your system while you are trying to sleep. About 50% of people in the US are “slow metabolizers” of caffeine, which means that our system takes quite a bit longer to break down and clear out the caffeine we ingest. Even if you are a fast metabolizer of caffeine and can drink it in the before bed without trouble sleeping, it still negatively affects your sleep quality by disrupting your circadian rhythms.
- Cool down at night
The best quality sleep happens between 60°F and 68°F. My sweet spot is 66°.
- Avoid blue light exposure 2-3 hours before bed
Blue light is the most prevalent color of light that comes through our screens. However, when your eyes see blue light, your brain thinks it is in the middle of the day (the time of day nature produces the most blue light) so it will not produce melatonin. As a result, your body will take a lot longer to adapt to nighttime darkness and realize that it is, in fact, night, and that you should be sleeping. There are lots of ways to do this without going into the dark ages, although reading a book or playing a game with your significant other or kids is a great option for winding down. Install blue light blockers on your phone and your computer. F.lux is a great add-on for your computer, and Twilight is a great app for your phone if it doesn’t come with a nighttime setting. There are also super cool orange glasses you can wear that block blue light.
- Get sunlight as early as possible
This ties into the above point. When you give your brain bright light in the morning, it helps regulate your circadian rhythm. You’ll feel more awake during the day and ready to sleep in the evening.
- Skip the extra alcohol
Another common myth is that alcohol can help you relax and sleep. However, drinking alcohol before bed actually significantly decreases REM sleep, making it much less restful.
- Get hydrated
One of the symptoms of dehydration is feelings of anxiousness and restlessness, which can keep you awake at night.
- Diffuse some essential oils
Essential oils that have been proven to help sleep quality are lavender, bergamot, marjoram, cedarwood, frankincense, and mandarin. I notice a huge difference in my own sleep quality (and that of my toddler! *praise hands*) when I diffuse these! This is a really great blend from Plant Therapy, a company that provides high quality therapeutic grade oils without the markups.
- Create a sleep sanctuary
Clean up that laundry pile, find another place for your business supplies, and make it beautiful and relaxing. Your bedroom should be an inviting, sexy place that you actually enjoy being in! Get blackout shades for your windows to keep it super dark and decor that brings you joy. A salt lamp is a great addition to a room to use as a relaxing, blue light-free reading light.
- Improve your diet
There are so many nutrients that are essential for the production of your sleep hormones and other neurotransmitters! If your diet is deficient in the following nutrients you can have issues sleeping as well as mental health struggles. These include B vitamins, omega-3 fats, potassium, vitamin D, tryptophan (an amino acid that is a precursor to seretonin and melatonin), magnesium, selenium, and other trace minerals.
- Experiment with supplements
There are countless sleep supplements out there, including tinctures, teas, pills, lotions, and herbs, entirely too many to list in this article. Look closely at the ingredients on the supplement label, and try to find the highest quality you can from a highly reputable company . If you experience any negative effects, don’t keep taking it. Also, as a word of caution, I would steer clear of melatonin supplements except for rare occasions. Melatonin, rather than initiating sleep, actually serves to regulate your circadian rhythm (the 24-hour hormonal body clock) and other hormonal rhythms. Taking exogenous melatonin can interrupt your body’s natural feedback loop and inhibit your natural production of this enormously important hormone. A couple of ideas for supplements to try out are 5-HTP, trace minerals, and CBD oil (a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant).
And remember: You can never “outsupplement” poor lifestyle habits!
- Get some nookie
Having good sex (or even just a good cuddling) doesn’t just make you feel awesome, it helps you sleep better! The oxytocin from an orgasm can be a powerful sedative. Being well rested also raises your libido, which means that sex and sleep can be a synergistic upward cycle.
- Eat a snack before bed
Popular weight loss advice tells you to never eat before bed. However, you can actually keep your blood sugar more stable and support body repair, if you eat a small healthy snack with good fats, low glycemic carbohydrates, and some protein. A good example of this would be unsweetened full fat yogurt with berries or half of an avocado on Ezekiel bread toast.
- Get ALL screens out of your room.
TVs and phones have no business being in a place of honor in a room that your brain should only associate with relaxation, sleep and sex, and they keep you disconnected from the person you share a bed with! The EMFs (electromagnetic fields) associated with technology can also disrupt sleep quality. Also, see points 7 and 10.
- Get exercise during the day
There’s nothing better than the sleep you get after a very active day, especially if it was sweaty outdoor physical activity in the sun and water! It’s the most beneficial for sleep if the exercise occurs in the morning.
- Do slow yoga or meditate
Yoga, meditation, prayer, and deep breathing can lower your stress levels significantly and calm your body and mind, making sleep easier to come by.
- Drink collagen tea
Collagen peptides contain an amino acid called glycine, which increases sleep quality by helping your body drop in temperature. Stirring it into a relaxing tea like lavender or chamomile is a great way to get it with some extra sleepy benefits. You can also add it to turmeric golden milk for an extra anti-inflammatory boost. I notice a huge difference in how I feel in the morning when I do this! This is the collagen I like to use.
- Read fiction
Reading relaxing fiction before bed is a great way to relax and get your mind calmed down from a stressful day. Business books and personal development books can make you alert and motivated, which keeps you awake and restless.
- Write in a journal
I do this every night! Rather than letting your thoughts bounce around in your head like hail in a thunderstorm, getting bigger and scarier the longer they’re up there, get them out on paper. It’s truly amazing how much this will help to lower your stress and organize your thoughts! Anything goes here – whether it is happenings from your day, weird thoughts, to do lists, or short stories.
- Eliminate unnecessary stress from your life
One of the biggest causes of sleep disruption is life stressors. While there are some things that are out of our control, we have MUCH more control than we think over the stress we incur. Constantly watching the news, which is filled with horrific examples of the worst of humanity, is a great example of a stressor that is totally unnecessary for almost all of us and adds a lot of ambient stress. Other life stresses can be mitigated by creating action plans to deal with them, seeing a great therapist, or working on breaking negative habit patterns. Doing things that you know you shouldn’t be doing, such as stealing money from your company or cheating on your spouse, can also be a major unnecessary stressor that will keep you awake at night.
- Rub magnesium on your skin.
Taking magnesium relieves stress and helps you sleep better. Because the soil our food grows in is highly magnesium deficient, about two-thirds of the US population does not get enough magnesium in their diets. Topical magnesium is the most efficient way to get magnesium into your system without digestive distress or low absorption. This magnesium lotion from Ancient Minerals is one of my holy grails for sleep quality and stress relief. This company also makes a great concentrated magnesium oil and bath flakes.
- Take some adaptogens Adaptogens are substances that help you “adapt” to stress. Everyone tends to react differently to them, but some are generally super useful for sleep. Ashwagandha, holy basil, and my all time favorite medicinal mushroom, reishi, have all been shown to improve sleep quality. I LOVE these reishi spores from Foursigmatic, and they also have other high quality reishi and medicinal mushroom elixirs. Note: If you have any serious health conditions, do research on whatever you decide to take and possible interactions.
- Cultivate a nighttime ritual
One you figure out which methods are the best for relaxing you and helping you sleep, you should cultivate a ritual that tells your body it’s time to end your day. It’s a well known fact that babies and children sleep better when they have a nightly ritual, and we’re all just giant babies.
- Stop stressing out about it
One thing that can keep you from sleeping at night is, ironically, stressing out about not getting enough sleep! I’ve found that when I decide to stop watching the clock and just spend my awake time reading or writing, I fall asleep much faster. My husband is a good example of this: He doesn’t ever stress out about sleep, and he’s almost always asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. His version of this article would be “1. Go to bed and close your eyes.” It’s infuriating.
I hope you were able to glean some great ideas for how to improve your sleep quality! The above tips are my favorite effective ways to get better sleep, and there are so many other useful things out there. What do you take or do to help you get the best quality sleep? I’d love to hear from you!
*This post may contain affiliate links. I will only ever recommend something that I have tried myself and love.