5 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep

On average, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is extremely important because it allows the body to repair, recharge, and regrow. Getting high quality sleep is also important for keeping our immune system healthy. Even a small amount of sleep deprivation increases the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and is associated with an inappropriate elevation of blood sugar levels in the morning. Lack of sleep also causes carb-cravings as the tired body searches for quick energy. Have trouble getting enough sleep? No worries, check out these 5 easy ways to a good night’s sleep:

Adjust the thermostat

Bedroom temperatures that are too warm can interfere with the body’s natural set point and affect the quality of REM sleep, needed for learning and memory. Researchers believe that the ideal sleeping temperature is around 65° F (18° C). Turn down the heater at night in the wintertime and cozy up with a warm blanket, instead.

Take a bath

Having a hot bath or shower one to two hours before bed can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve your sleep quality. The hot water helps improve your circulation from your body core, which in turn helps with the body temperature drop needed for optimal sleep. Studies found that 10 minutes in a bath or shower was all that was needed for the sleep benefits.

Limit alcohol

It seems counterintuitive since alcohol can make you feel tired (and even make you fall asleep more quickly), but it can actually disrupt sleep. Having alcohol in your system can keep you in lighter stages of sleep, which means you’ll get less of the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage and deep sleep stage, which is when we get our most restorative sleep. If you find yourself knocking back a couple of drinks before bed, try to go a few days without and see if you feel more rested in the morning.

Turn off screens

If you’re able, turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed. Blue light emitted by screens suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep. Many phones also have a dim light setting that can be scheduled for evening hours, and there are apps for your phone and computer that can help, too.

Establish a schedule

Similar to how you often get hungry at the same time each day, your body likes to go to sleep and wake up around the same time. Sticking to a bedtime (and waketime), even on the weekends, helps your body’s internal clock establish a natural sleep-wake cycle. 

How many more minutes of sleep do you need to reach at least 7 hours or your ideal amount? For example, let’s say you only get 6 hours each night so you need to add on 60 minutes to reach 7 hours of sleep. It seems daunting to try and add in an extra hour every day! Instead, back up your current bedtime by 10 minutes tonight, and go to bed at this new time every day for a week. Continue to back up your bedtime by an additional 10 minutes each week for 6 weeks, and you’ll reach your ideal sleeping amount.

Cut the caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that can reduce both the quantity and quality of sleep. Caffeine can circulate in the body anywhere from 8-12 hours, so have your last cup o’ joe or caffeinated tea by early afternoon.

Form a ritual

A calming bedtime ritual such as brushing your teeth and washing your face, dimming the lights, reading a book, doing bedtime yoga, or having a soothing cup of chamomile tea can help signal to your body that it’s time for sleep. Try to start this ritual 30 – 60 minutes before you’re scheduled to go to bed. Set a timer on your phone or watch if you need a reminder.

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Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN​

on March 10, 2020. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Health Coaches.