How to Sleep Better: 7 Simple Habits

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
Irish Proverb

“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.”
Wilson Mizener

I have to say that, overall, I sleep well.

Things weren’t always like that though. I often had trouble falling asleep and would twist and turn on the bed for a long time several times a week. I sometimes slept pretty badly and if I woke up in the middle of the night then it usually took me quite some time to go back to sleep.

Over the many nights and many years I have found a handful of habits that have helped me to minimize these problems and to get a good night’s rest pretty much every time.

These are 7 habits that help me to sleep better. I hope you will share yours too in the comments.

  1. Regular exercise. It will release inner tensions and worries. And I sleep better when not only my mind is tired but my body too.
  2. Keep it cool. It may at first feel comfortable to go to bed in a warm bedroom. But I have over the years found that I tend to have fewer negative or scary dreams and sleep more calmly in a cool bedroom.
  3. Keep the earplugs nearby. These are a life-saver if you, like me, tend to be woken up easily by noise. I use them at home if our cats are too noisy very early in the morning. I use them while traveling if I have to share a room with a snorer or if there is loud construction work being done outside my hotel at sunrise.
  4. No personal development reading two hours before bed. Or any other non-fiction reading that I know will give me many new ideas or get my thoughts spinning. Reading fiction or watching a TV-show tends to work a lot better for me to wind down.
    I sometimes also do a bit of surfing on my smart phone. I keep the brightness of the phone low – sort of like a lightly lit page of a book – to not start feeling more awake again.
  5. No brightly lit TV or computer in the bedroom. By separating my life like this I make a mental separation between the places where I work or watch the TV. And the place where I sleep.
    This limit and association it creates in my mind makes it easier to relax and to get to into the “now-it’s time-to-sleep” mode.
    Instead of feeling distracted or being tempted to work just a little bit more.
  6. Don’t try to force going to sleep. If I’m not sleepy then I stay on the couch and keep reading to relax a bit more. I have tried forcing myself to go to sleep more times than I can remember. And it has never worked. Instead it just leads to tossing around in bed for an hour or more.
    So winding down for 20 extra minutes on the couch is actually a smarter choice to help me to go to sleep faster and get more sleep.
  7. Focus on breathing to fall asleep or to get back to sleep. If you have wound down but still have worries in your mind or thoughts spinning around as you go to bed then my most recent habit may help you out.
    If I have this issue or I wake up in the middle of the night and thoughts start bouncing around in my head then I focus on just my breathing for a couple of minutes. Just on the air going in and out of my nose. Nothing more.
    This clear 100% focus on my breathing makes any thoughts or worries disappear and both my body and mind calms down again. And I go to sleep very quickly.

What is your best tip for sleeping better?

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I was tossing, and turning for months which was unusual for me. I took some advice, and starting drinking green tea. After about 2 weeks I noticed higher energy levels, less stress, and the best sleep Ive had in years.

  • My best tip to sleeping better is work hard that day and you will surely sleep better that night.

  • Melinda

    My husband is a horrible snorer! All night sometimes. I have insomnia and this doesn’t help at all…he gets very loud or low and consistent…either way he drives me crazy! I don’t want to sleep in a different room, I know several couples that do. That’s just sad! So where do I get the ear plugs everyone talks about? Which kind feels/works better? Thanks for the great article.
    Ear plug information please!
    Melinda

  • Drinking water works for me.

  • Thank you everyone for your kind words and for sharing your best tips for sleeping better, you have added a lot of helpful information to this resource. :)

  • My favourites from your list:

    Regular exercise.
    Keep it cool.
    Don’t try to force going to sleep.

    Another one for you:
    Watch a boring discovery channel documentary. I got a collection of very boring one on my PC … just in case … very effective … :-)

  • Nice article Henrik. Although I have never had a problem sleeping I think what has worked for me is some form of activity which triggers sleep. For me this is reading a book but it could be anything starting from taking a shower, going for a walk, listening to soothing music, meditation or anything else.

  • Great advice, I used to have such a struggle to fall asleep. My problem was I would spend so much time looking at my computer or phone and it just kept me up longer and it kept me thinking so I would start looking up new ideas. I finally moved my computer out of my room and moved my phone charger into the bathroom.

  • Jerry

    Work hard at day, so you can sleep well at night.

  • Anna

    After a week of really bad insomnia that popped up out of nowhere, I read that a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with about 8 or 9 oz. of water would help me sleep. I was willing to try anything natural, as I had tapered off of sleep meds that I had been taking for about 7 years, and it nearly did my liver in. THE BAKING SODA WORKED! And has continued to work, when I need it. I highly recommend you try it, especially if you’re dealing with insomnia as a symptom of candida. Most nights, I splash some lavender oil on my wrist and neck, use earplugs and an eyemask, but for those nights when I feel like sleep won’t come, I take the baking soda, breathe, and RELAX!

  • I fall asleep well. Staying asleep is a different story. I think I often get too warm.

  • Pre Sleep – Lighting – F.Lux & Twighlight.
    Waking Up – Lumie alarm clock and Fitbit One vibrating alarm

    Read more here : http://www.rossgoodman.com/2014/05/16/hacking-sleep-what-works-for-me/

  • Hmm I kind of disagree with no reading of personal development books. I think it’s always good time to read those kind of materials. In a busy schedule of a modern man is difficult to find any other time to read it except for before going to bed. I agree with all the rest! Especially about the exercises. Sometimes is good enough to go out for a walk with our dog before starting our night routine.