How to Have a Good Night's Sleep


Having trouble sleeping can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained. Sleep is vital for living a healthy, happy life. Fortunately, good sleep may be within your reach! If you want a good night’s sleep, start by getting on a sleep schedule and creating a good sleep environment for falling asleep. Next, create a routine that helps you wind down before bed. It’s also important that you make lifestyle changes that help support healthy sleep and feeling refreshed in the morning.

Part 1
Establishing Your Sleep Schedule

Establishing Your Sleep Schedule on How to Have a Good Night's Sleep

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Change your sleeping habits so that each day is the same -- even on weekends. The best way to do this is to figure out what time you need to be up for work or school, then calculate backwards to ensure that you’ll get enough hours of sleep. This will give you your bedtime and wake-up time.[1] For example, you may need to get up at 6:00 a.m. to be at work by 8:00 a.m. To get 7-9 hours of sleep, you’d need to set your bedtime sometime between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. If you need to get used to going to bed earlier, it's best to do so in 15-30 minute intervals. Let your body get used to the earlier bedtime before you set it another 15-30 minutes earlier.[2] This trains your brain to know when to go to sleep so that you don’t lie in bed tossing and turning.

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This wrecks your sleep schedule, making it harder to get the good sleep you need. Do your best to stick to the same sleep schedule during the weekend as you need during your work week. Over time, this will have you feeling well-rested.[3] At first, you may want to schedule early morning activities on your weekend days so that you have an incentive to rise early. For example, make a plan with a friend or partner to go on an early morning hike. Don’t plan any late-night events on Friday or Saturday while you’re trying to establish your sleep schedule. After you establish your sleep schedule, you can occasionally sleep in for 1-2 hours without disturbing your sleep schedule.[4] It can take weeks to establish your sleep schedule, depending on your current sleep and wake cycle. Plan to adjust your bedtime by just 15-30 minutes at a time.[5]

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Sleep hours can vary depending on your age. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers require 8-11 hours each night. Children should get 10-13 hours of sleep each night. Young children also require naps. For example, a 2-year-old should nap for 1-2 hours, while a 1-year-old should nap for up to 4 hours, spread throughout the day.[6]

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Naps can disrupt your sleep schedule, making it hard to fall asleep at night. Stay awake during daylight. If you do nap, stick to 15-30 minute power naps. Otherwise, you may wake up from your nap more tired than before, and you’ll risk messing up your sleep schedule.[7] You should only take 1 power nap per day. The best time of day for a nap is in the afternoon, or about 2 hours after lunch. If you have a typical schedule, this means about 2:00-3:00 p.m. Napping later in the evening can interfere with your sleep schedule.[8]

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It’s normal to feel a little tired after dinner, and you may feel like resting on the couch in front of the TV. However, it’s best to get moving instead to re-energize yourself. That’s because resting can result in an energy surge later in the evening when you need to be winding down for bed.[9] Go for a short after-dinner walk. You might even have a friend or pet join you. Sunset is a great time to go for a walk! It can decrease stress and help keep your body's circadian rhythms in sync.

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Although sticking to your schedule is important, you can’t force yourself to fall asleep. Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed and do something relaxing, such as reading. When you start to feel tired, try to sleep.[10] Although it's a good idea to occupy your mind, don't choose an activity that can make you feel more awake, such as playing on your phone, watching TV, or using your computer.

Part 2
Creating a Good Sleep Environment

Creating a Good Sleep Environment on How to Have a Good Night's Sleep

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If your room is not clean it actually isn't too easy to sleep in. Since everyone feels satisfaction out of a clean room, don't you want to go to bed satisfied and relaxed?

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A comfortable bed can help you get to sleep faster. Invest in some good pillows, a good comforter, and comfortable sheets. If your mattress is old, then you might consider replacing it.[11] A good comforter is one that's comfortable for you. Everyone has different preferences. You may want to change your bedding with the seasons. For example, during winter, you may switch to cotton or jersey sheets, and add an extra blanket. You could also keep warm with a down blanket.[12] During summer, you might choose lighter weight options like cotton with a thread count between 250-500 or linen.[13] Switch out the down comforter for a light-weight cotton alternative. If a dog, child, or partner is hogging the bed, make them move. You deserve your space.

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Light can trick your brain into staying awake. Turn off the lights and avoid using a nightlight. Block out light from outside with heavy blinds or curtains. If you use an alarm clock, turn it around so that it doesn’t face you.[14] Don’t sleep with the television on, as the flickering light will disrupt your sleep. If you get up during the night, keep the lights dim.[15]

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Excessive noise can make it hard to go to sleep. Additionally, sudden or changing noises can wake you up. The best way to deal with noise is to use a white-noise machine, fan, or portable air purifier to create a consistent noise environment that is appropriate for sleeping.[16] You can invest in a white noise machine that offers different types of sounds that encourage sleep. However, a fan or a portable air purifier is often cheaper. You could also wear ear plugs.

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Keeping your bedroom cool helps you fall asleep more easily, as your body naturally cools down before sleep. How cool the room should be can vary depending on the individual, so choose a temperature that feels cool to you.[17] Generally speaking, you'll be able to sleep best somewhere between 60 and 68 °F (16 and 20 °C).[18]

Part 3
Winding Down Before Bed

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This includes television, your phone, your tablet, and any other electronic device. The light from these screens will keep you awake or lead to poor sleep quality. If you read before bed, don't use a backlit screen.[19]

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This is a great way to start your wind-down routine. A warm bath or shower signals to your body to cool down, which helps you fall asleep faster. You'll also feel extra relaxed![20] Try adding calming scents, such as lavender.

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You don't want to have hair tickling your face when you're trying to fall asleep!

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In addition to adding oils to your bath, you can spritz your room or bedding with diluted essential oils, apply the diluted oils to your skin, or use an oil diffuser. Great options for bedtime include lavender and chamomile. Lavender oil is known for its calming effects. It can help you fall asleep faster and may help you stay asleep longer.[21] Chamomile also provides a calming effect and can lessen anxiety, as well as relax you.[22]

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Calming music can relax your mind and put you in the right mindset for sleep. It also has the added benefit of drowning out the unwanted sounds. Choose slower, relaxing tunes right before bed, rather than songs that energize you.[23] For example, you might choose classical music. Other good options might include slow jams, folk or bluegrass music, or slow country songs. Consider what you enjoy. Stay away from dance music or songs that get your heart pumping.

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Reading before bed is a great way to relax. Many people find that reading every night helps them wind down. Use a bedside lamp or a reading light to maintain the right environment for sleep.[24] If you have trouble putting your book down, try setting chapter limits. For example, read just 1 chapter a day. Choose a book that you find relaxing. If exciting books keep you awake, opt for a title that has a slower story line.

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These exercises can relax your body so that you’re better able to sleep. They’ll help you anytime during the day, including right before bed.[25] For example, you could do 3-5 yoga poses or stretches each night to relax yourself. Great poses for bedtime include the standing forward pose, supine spinal twist, reclining bound angle pose, and corpse pose.[26]

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For example, you might try knitting in a comfy chair in the hours right before bed. Whatever hobby you choose, it should be something relaxing that you can do while sitting down.

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Meditation is an easy way to calm your mind right before bed. Even a 5 minute meditation can be helpful, though a 15-30 minute meditation can have greater effects. You can simply close your eyes and focus on your breath, or you can follow a guided meditation.[27] Try a meditation app like Calm or Headspace. Look for guided meditations online or on iTunes. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, redirect it back to your breath. Prayer can have a similar effect to meditation.[28]

Part 4
Changing Your Habits

Changing Your Habits on How to Have a Good Night's Sleep

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Don’t use your bed as a work or study space, as this will teach your brain to think about work or school while it’s time for sleep. It’s easier for your mind to calm down and go to sleep if you train it to associate your bed with resting.[29] Do work tasks or homework in another room. For example, you might use the dinner table as a workspace. If you must work in your bedroom, use a desk instead of your bed. Keeping your sleeping area and working area separate can help your brain associate your bed with rest rather than work.[30]

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Starting your day out with a caffeinated drink is fine, but caffeine isn’t your best option for an afternoon pick-me-up. That’s because it stays in your system for hours after you drink it. By the time bedtime rolls around, you may not feel like the caffeine is still affecting you, but it could keep your mind awake. Opt for caffeine-free drinks after lunch.[31] If you need an afternoon boost, you could try going on a 15-minute walk to energize yourself. It’s especially helpful if you go outside! Everyone reacts to caffeine differently, so you may need to adjust your cut-off time, depending on your individual needs.

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Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it also interrupts your sleep. This means you may fall asleep easily only to wake up during the night.[32] If you enjoy drinking, stick to 1-2 drinks early in the evening.

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Nicotine acts as a stimulant, so it can keep you awake. Not only that, you may find yourself having cravings during the night. Kicking the habit may be your answer to better sleep.[33] Talk to your doctor for help quitting. You may be able to use a prescription medicine, such as Chantix, to stop smoking. You may also be able to use quitting aids, such as gum or patches.

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Whether that means going for your lunch in the park or just throwing open all the curtains, make sure your brain gets stimulated by enough daylight. The sun is a natural cue to your brain that it's time to wake up. For example, you could go on a nature walk or walk your dog. During winter, you might try a light therapy box, which causes your body to release melatonin just like the sun does.[34]

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Exercise can extend the number of hours that you sleep, as well as prime your body for deep sleep. Get a minimum of 30 minutes a day, which can be broken into smaller blocks of time if that's better for your schedule.[35] For example, you could do 3 blocks of 10 minutes of exercise each day. It’s best to finish moderate to intense exercise earlier in the day, such as the morning or afternoon. If you enjoy exercising in the evening, finish at least 3 hours before bedtime. Low intensity exercises like yoga are okay before bed.[36]

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Feeling either hungry or stuffed at bedtime can disrupt your sleep, so it’s best to eat just enough to feel satisfied. Set your dinner time earlier in the evening, such as around 6:00 p.m. This will give your food time to settle before bedtime.[37] If you want a late-night snack, choose something light, such as cereal, yogurt, or a banana.

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Sugar and carbs can cause your blood sugar to peak and valley, which affects your energy and hunger levels. Additionally, they can trigger wakefulness, making it hard for you to fall and stay asleep.[38] You don’t have to give up carbs! Just stick to complex and whole-grain carbs. For example, choose brown rice over white rice.

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Magnesium can help you sleep longer and get more rest. To use it, take 200-400 mg before bedtime.[39] Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you're already taking other supplements or medications.

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Your body naturally produces melatonin to trigger sleep. Taking a melatonin supplement can help you fall asleep more easily. However, it's best to only take it when you really need it, such as when your sleep has become very disordered, you have jet lag, you're working shift work, or you struggle to fall asleep for hours. Keep in mind, however, that long-term use can make your body dependent on the supplement, so it will stop making its own melatonin.[40] Only take melatonin after you've talked to your doctor about it. You should only use the supplement for a short period of time.

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Unfortunately, stress is part of life, and it can make it hard for you to sleep well. Coping with stress can solve that problem. Luckily, there are several ways to relax. Here are a few easy options:[41] Do yoga. Try a relaxing hobby. Perform breathing exercises. Color in an adult coloring book or app. Go for a nature walk. Take a hot bath. Read. Journal. See a therapist.