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Improving Your Sleep

Maintaining healthy sleep patterns is an essential part of staying healthy and happy, but maintaining your sleep doesn’t begin and end with when you go to bed. Check out these other factors that might be affecting how well you sleep.

During the Day


Maintain a schedule, even on the weekend:

When you have a regular schedule, it is much easier for your body to fall asleep and wake up than if you have one that varies.

Exercise early in the day:

Moderate aerobic activity can improve sleep quality. For best results, exercise at least three hours before bedtime so your body has enough time to wind down before going to sleep.

Eat enough:

Eating too much or too soon before bedtime will keep your digestive organs working when they want to wind down. This can make you uncomfortable when you are trying to fall asleep. Also, eating something sugary may keep you awake too long.

No naps:

It is best to avoid taking naps during the day, to make sure that you are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it’s for less than an hour and before 3pm.

Train your brain:

Try not to use your bed for anything other than sleeping and sex, so your body comes to associate bed with sleep. If you use your bed as a place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, and other things, your body will not learn this connection.

In the Evening


Avoid triggers:

Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can all interfere with sleep. Try to stay away from them in the hours before bed.

Avoid drinking liquids too close to bedtime:

Consider cutting off your water supply an hour or two before bed to save yourself multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Dim the lights:

Exposure to electrical lights between sunset and bedtime may negatively affect your sleep. Dim the lights closer to bedtime.

Turn off the screens:

The artificial blue light emitted by screens can confuse our bodies and disrupt our ability to sleep. Reduce exposure by turning off TVs, phones, and computers at least one hour before bedtime. If you find it difficult to unplug, try apps like lux and Koala Web Browser that reduce the amount of blue light your devices emit.

Establish a routine:

Establish a calming pre-sleep routine to help you wind down and relax. Try reading a book or listening to music instead of watching TV.

Bath time:

Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.

At Bedtime


Check the temperature:

Your sleep environment can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. Try a cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm.

Slip on some socks:

Having warm hands and feet can help speed up the process of falling asleep. Pull on a pair of clean socks before heading to bed.

Keep your bedroom quiet:

Noises from electronics or watches ticking can disrupt your sleep, so leave them outside the bedroom. Use earplugs for unavoidable noises like snoring bed partners or sirens outside your window.

Try aromatherapy:

Add a drop of chamomile or lavender oil to a tissue or cotton ball to place near your pillow at bedtime. The scent may help relax you and send you off to sleep.


Imagine yourself somewhere calm, relaxing and sleep inducing. This method can slow brain wave activity and induce sleep.

If You Can’t Sleep


Get up and try again:

If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again.

No clock watching:

Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up and reinforces negative thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep.”

Use a sleep diary:

This can be a useful way of tracking your sleep patterns and habits, and identifying the variables that most affect your sleep. Make a chart to track things like:

    • The time you went to bed and woke up
    • How long and well you slept
    • When you were awake during the night
    • How much caffeine or alcohol you consumed and when
    • What and when you ate and drank
    • What emotion or stress you had
    • What drugs or medications you took