Sleeping well is one of the most important things you need for your overall health and well-being. If you're not sleeping well, you've probably already been given all sorts of advice on what to do about it. Do not worry! We've done the preliminary research for you and collected the most reliable tips for a better night's sleep, including advice from experts from Harvard University, among others.
Method 1 of 5: Falling asleep quickly (Easy ways)
Step 1. Relax in the evening by taking a nice warm bath or shower before going to bed
A warm bath or shower is not only relaxing, but also ensures that your body cools down after time, so that you will sleep better. And if you apply body lotion afterwards, you ensure that your skin stays hydrated and warm.
Step 2. Take a magnesium supplement (400 mg) half an hour to 45 minutes before going to bed
Magnesium helps against insomnia because it takes you less time to fall asleep if you take it. Magnesium also ensures that you sleep better and longer. You can find magnesium supplements in the vitamin section of the drugstore or at the pharmacy.
Step 3. Sleep without pajamas
Sleeping experts say sleeping naked can help regulate your body temperature. Maintain a comfortable body temperature by using blankets or a duvet (just the right thickness), sheets and pillows. In principle, it is better to sleep in a somewhat cooler bed than in a bed that is too warm.
- Rather sleep with your arms and head above the covers unless it is very cold in the room.
- Are you too hot? Learn how to sleep well when it's hot. Are you cold? Then learn how to sleep well on a cold night.
- Keep an extra blanket near your bed in case you get cold at night. Don't forget your feet; cold feet can keep you awake!
- If you prefer to wear pajamas because you find it more comfortable, it is best to choose loose-fitting cotton pajamas. As a rule, cotton breathes better than pajamas made from other materials.
Step 4. Sleep in varying positions
Changing your sleeping position can make a huge difference to the quality of your sleep. When you go to sleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night, seriously try to follow these tips until you do it automatically:
- Keep your body in what is called the centerline position, keeping both your head and neck more or less straight. You should be able to sleep better that way.
- Try not to sleep on your stomach. It is difficult to stay in this position, and you are more likely to experience pain or cramping if you sleep on your stomach. If you do want to sleep on your stomach, place your pillow under your hips instead of under your head.
Step 5. Use a suitable pillow
If your pillow is too thin, your head will hang back, which is not pleasant. Also, do not stack multiple pillows so that your head is at a sharp angle.
- If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs. The pillow will support your hips so that you will sleep more comfortably in this position.
- If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your legs.
Step 6. Avoid bright light from about two hours before going to sleep
Bright light just before you go to sleep can disrupt your biological clock. Your inner clock is one of the most important signs to your body that it's time to go to sleep or wake up.
- If your house is brightly lit at night, turn off all unnecessary lights.
- Try not to watch TV or use your computer, tablet or smartphone for at least two hours before going to sleep. If you are using Linux it is recommended to install f.lux or RedShift on your computer to filter the blue light from your screen. Blue light can have a negative impact on your sleep by causing less sleep hormones to be released in your body.
- Remove all light sources from your bedroom. This includes windows, backlit alarm clocks, computer lights, power strips, and other devices with lights (unless they are very dim). You can cover them with thick paper, with a cloth or with tape, or you can just turn them off or unplug them. That way you will sleep better, and also save a lot of electricity.
- If you are still bothered by disturbing light, or if you wake up too early due to light in the morning, wear an eye mask. Sometimes so-called 'eye pads' with lavender have a more soothing effect.
Step 7. Provide peaceful sounds
Use a so-called white sound device that produces various soothing sounds (such as surf, wind, and steam sounds). These are, as it were, sounds without form that can make it easier for your brain to focus on the here-and-now.
- White light has been shown to not only help people fall asleep faster, but it can also reduce other noises that could wake you up at night.
- Devices that produce white noise or natural sounds often work very well. But if you don't have the money for that, you can also use a fan as a source of soothing sound, or tune the radio between two stations so that it produces atmospheric interference. Be careful not to turn the radio too loud.
- Repetitive music or so-called ambient music are also very suitable for falling asleep. It is especially important that there are no dramatic changes in the dynamics of the music. Ambient music, for example Brian Eno's music, is ideal. Just make sure that the music stops or fades away after about an hour, otherwise the music may prevent you from getting a real deep sleep.
- Turn off your phone, or set it to vibrate mode if you're using the alarm, so you won't be disturbed by apps, phone calls or notifications at night. If you know you have somewhere to go the next morning, go to bed earlier.
Method 2 of 5: Watch what you eat
Step 1. Eat at least three hours before going to sleep at night for the last time
You often can't sleep well on a full stomach, and the heavier the meal, the longer it takes your stomach to digest it.
- Avoid fatty foods. Besides the fact that it is not so healthy, if you have eaten too much fat, you can often sleep less well.
- Avoid highly spicy or spicy foods. Some people love well-spiced food, but if you find that tasty Indian curry gives you a stomach ache at night, next time order something else at your favorite restaurant.
Step 2. Don't go to sleep on an empty stomach
You often sleep just as badly on an empty stomach as on a full stomach.
- If you find that your stomach is often rumbling with hunger in the evening and that you are unable to sleep, eat a light snack about an hour before you go to bed.
- Before going to sleep, do not eat things that contain a lot of sugar and carbohydrates.
- Instead of sweets, eat a snack based on chicken or turkey fillet, yogurt, soybeans, tuna or peanuts. These products contain tryptophan, a hormone that can cause your body to produce more of the hormone serotonin, making it easier for you to relax. These foods also contain natural, complex fats that give you a feeling of satiety.
Step 3. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening
Examples include coffee, black tea, cocoa, cola, and other soft drinks that contain caffeine. Caffeine can keep you from sleeping, even if you drink it early in the day, and its effect can last up to 12 hours. This also applies to other stimulants such as energy drinks, even if they do not contain caffeine.
Also avoid tobacco and other products containing nicotine in the evenings
Step 4. Drink a relaxing hot drink
Drinks that are very suitable for bedtime are, for example, warm milk or chamomile tea. Most herbal teas are fine too, as long as they don't contain caffeine. Try not to drink more than about 100 ml of fluids shortly before going to sleep.
Step 5. Try not to drink water or other liquids one and a half to two hours before going to sleep
Just make sure you drink at least two liters of water during the day.
If your body is well hydrated you will not wake up thirsty. Just don't drink a large glass of water right before you go to bed, otherwise there is a good chance that you will wake up in the middle of the night because you have to pee
Step 6. Don't drink alcohol before going to sleep
Alcohol may make you sleepy, but it also makes you sleep less well, because your body has to process the alcohol and sugars. If you've drunk alcohol, you often sleep lighter and wake up more often in between (even though you often don't always notice when your sleep is interrupted by the alcohol). That way you don't rest well.
Method 3 of 5: Make your bedroom and bed more attractive
Step 1. Use your bedroom for sleeping
If your body is used to doing all kinds of other things in your bedroom besides sleeping, you may not be able to make a smooth transition to that moment when it comes to bedtime. Your brain is supposed to associate your bedroom with sleep and possibly with activities that are soothing and relaxing.
- Try not to do the following things in your bedroom: Doing homework or other less pleasant chores, using your computer, watching television, talking on the phone, eating, exercising, and more generally anything that is mentally or physically tiring and things that make you very excited or gets a lot of energy from it.
- Things you should be able to do are: Read, work on a relaxing project, write in your journal, or cuddle with your partner.
- Use your bed ONLY for sleeping.
Step 2. Make your bedroom a heavenly paradise
The more comfortable your bed and bedroom are, the more likely it is that you will sleep well and wake up extended.
Avoid waking up at night by making sure your bedroom is completely dark
Step 3. Keep your bedroom clean
Remove cobwebs, take down the boards and vacuum the floor. Empty the trash. Do not leave dirty plates, cups or water bottles in your bedroom. A clean room sets the mood by making you feel like you're in a safe, healthy place, not a neglected dump. Regular cleaning also reduces the chance of allergies that could interfere with your sleep, and prevents mice, rats, cockroaches, and other pests from entering your bedroom.
- Keep your bed clean. Wash the sheets and pillowcases every week. That way they always smell nice and you definitely sleep better between clean sheets.
- Don't fill your room with things that can distract you from sleeping. Clean your room. Get rid of unnecessary rubbish and air your room as often as possible.
Step 4. Make your room more beautiful
A room that looks inviting puts you in a much better mood than an ugly room. Your room doesn't have to look like a page from an Ikea catalog, but some small changes, like throwing out that hideous bedspread or painting the walls, can subtly improve the atmosphere and your mood.
- Make your room darker. Hang blackout curtains, screens or blinds on the windows to help prevent waking up too early in the morning.
- Make sure that the temperature of your body and your surroundings is soothing. If you're sweltering hot or stone cold, you won't sleep well.
Step 5. Maintain your mattress
Change the mattress after five or seven years of regular use. If you feel springs or hard edges below the surface when you lie on the bed, or if you and your partner often (unintentionally) almost roll over each other at night, it's time to buy another mattress!
It could also very well be that the mattress is to blame if you find that you sleep better in a different bed
Step 6. Think about buying a new mattress
More modern types of mattresses, which you can adjust the position or shape to your body, can help you sleep better.
- There is a certain type of mattress that allows you and your partner to both adjust the firmness of the bed to your own needs. This is ideal if you can never agree on which mattress feels right. You may both have different needs, and finding a mattress that you both like often means buying one that won't allow either of you to sleep well.
- There are also memory foam mattresses, which adapt to the shape of your body as it warms up. That way, there are no pressure points that could cause your limbs to tingle, or otherwise cause pain or irritation. This is especially helpful for people who have problems with their hips or other joints.
Method 4 of 5: Adjusting your daily routine
Step 1. Get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time
If you get up or go to sleep more than an hour earlier or later than usual, your sleep can be seriously disrupted because you break your so-called circadian rhythm.
- Also keep the same sleeping schedule on the weekend. Even if you occasionally have to go to bed later, try to get up at your normal time.
- Get up immediately every day when the alarm goes off. Don't lie down for a while and don't make it a habit to sleep in.
Step 2. Think about giving yourself less time to sleep
The amount of sleep someone needs varies from person to person. If you take more than half an hour to fall asleep, or are often awake at night, you may be taking too much time to sleep. You need deep, continuous sleep, even for a shorter period of time, rather than shallow, interrupted sleep.
- So if there is normally eight hours between the time you go to sleep and the time you get up, shorten that by 15 minutes by going to bed 15 minutes later or by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier. You may feel more tired for the first few days, but that will help you sleep better.
- If you still can't fall asleep faster after a week and still wake up in between, try getting another 15 minutes less sleep.
- Try to sleep 15 minutes less every week, until you fall asleep quickly and don't wake up anymore. (Waking up at night is normal, as long as it doesn't take more than a few minutes.)
- Then keep going to bed and getting up at these new times.
Step 3. Develop a sleep routine
Try the same ritual every night before going to sleep to get yourself ready for bed. The most important thing is that you are consistent. For a truly relaxing evening, try the following steps:
- Put on some ambient or other soothing music and instead of white light bulbs, light a few candles in the living room as well as in your bedroom.
- Do breathing exercises (see below) or try meditating for 15 minutes. Concentrate on relaxing your body.
- When it's time to go to sleep, put out the candles on the way to your bedroom. That way it will gradually darken in the house until you have blown out the last candle.
Step 4. Before going to sleep, do deep breathing exercises to relax
Sit in a comfortable position. Make sure the atmosphere around you is relaxed. Not too much light, quiet music and a place where you know you won't be disturbed are ideal.
- Clear your head. Close your eyes and imagine that all the problems that are in your head during the day gradually disappear with each exhalation.
- Bring in all the positives. Breathe in positive images that make you happy. Smile as you do this.
- Concentrate on your breathing. Feel the oxygen in your body. You should now gradually get a calm feeling throughout your body and head.
- Try to do this for ten minutes every night before going to sleep.
- You could also put a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow. Lavender calms your nerves and can help you fall asleep.
- During the day, your mind wanders all the time. The kinds of breathing exercises described above help to relax your body and mind and keep your thoughts in one place, which will also leave you feeling calm in your body.
Step 5. Try to exercise regularly
If you have an office job or other sedentary occupation, a lack of exercise can also cause you to sleep less well. Our bodies use sleep to rest and recover. If there isn't much to fix, your body's sleep cycle may be disrupted.
- Physical exertion (such as going for a run, swimming or cycling, or even better, exercising regularly) can help you sleep more deeply and relax. Make sure you get more exercise during the day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of taking the bus, and so on.
- Exercise no less than two hours before going to sleep. Exercise makes you tired and can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. It is only true that your body is still 'hyperactive' just after training. (With the only exception of some light yoga).
Step 6. Try taking an afternoon nap
For some people (depending on the work you do and your daily routine), taking a short nap in the afternoon can make you feel less sleepy during the day. Keep in mind that an afternoon nap is not suitable for everyone (many people feel more sleepy afterwards).
If you feel like you need an afternoon nap (and if your job gives you that opportunity), set your alarm for 15 minutes. If you are indeed ready for an afternoon nap, you will fall asleep in a minute or two. Get up immediately when the alarm goes off! Have a glass of water and go right back to work. You will feel a lot more rested. You will probably feel even fresher than if you had slept for an hour
Method 5 of 5: Taking medicine to sleep better
Step 1. Try melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the so-called epiphysis or pineal gland in your brain. In the dark, the pineal gland actively converts serotonin into melatonin. When it's light it doesn't, and the melatonin is then converted back to serotonin on its own.
Always consult your doctor before taking melatonin. Taking melatonin pills is a natural way to make you sleepy, especially if you are physically tired at night but can't sleep. Just keep in mind that melatonin is a hormone (just like estrogen or testosterone), and just because it's natural doesn't mean it's completely safe
Step 2. Try pure antihistamine products that make you sleepy
Such products are safe if you take the 'without additives' variants, so no painkillers, laxatives, cough syrup, etc. Never use them for more than two nights in a row, because your body gets used to them quickly.
- Always read the label or package insert. Try half or less of the normal dose so that you don't suffer from a so-called 'sleep aid hangover' in the morning. That way, your sleep problem would only get worse.
- Make sure you are already in bed when you feel the drowsiness coming on.
- If you're taking prescription drugs, always talk to your doctor before trying anything else. Never simply combine different medicines: if you use the wrong combination, you may get a combination of medicines that can be harmful to you.
- Never take too much of sedatives or tranquilizers. Never take more than the prescribed dose and stop immediately after the prescribed period.
Step 3. Tell your doctor if you think you may have a sleep disorder
Some of the most common sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy and parasomnia. If you think you suffer from such a disorder and if the diagnosis is indeed made, your doctor will prescribe an appropriate treatment.
Stress, depression, PMS and certain medicines can prevent you from sleeping well. In that case, you need to get something done about the problem
- Keep a glass of water by your bed in case you get thirsty in the middle of the night. Always go to the toilet before going to sleep and never forget to brush your teeth.
- Try to think about all the positive events of the day, and if you've had a bad day, think about the fun things you'll be doing the next day. If you have so many things on your mind that they keep you from sleeping, write them down so you can think about them the next morning.
- If you experience pain or cramps when you wake up, you may have slept in the wrong position. If you don't sleep well on your back, try the tennis ball trick: take an old pajama coat and sew a tennis ball onto the back. Wear this while you sleep. That way you automatically stay on your side and you will sleep better.
- Make sure you have a pillow that is just right for you. This applies to both the hardness and the material. Also take a 'safety blanket' to bed, or something else that is soft and that you can grip, such as a pillow, a piece of your blanket, or even a hug. Often such an object gives a sense of comfort and a little extra security, and it can help you to relax more quickly and sleep better. Also try not to lie on your side and roll yourself up into a ball. That way you put stress on your neck.
- Take advantage of aromatherapy using essential oils. For example, lavender essential oil helps you to relax and become calmer. It has also been shown that you are more likely to sleep better if you take probiotics daily.
- Having a pet in your bedroom may be cozy, but it can keep you from sleeping due to its weight, exercise, asking for food or wanting to go outside. Choose a good night's sleep rather than the cosiness and needs of your pet! Better take a hot water bottle with you to bed. A hot water bottle keeps you warm and you can hold it in your arms for a sense of security. Only use a pitcher if you live in a place where it's cold, and make sure it's sturdy and won't crack or break.
- If you suffer from heartburn or other digestive problems, try elevating your head a little, for example with an extra (thin) pillow. This often gives a lot of relief. Always sleep with your head higher than your feet; it is said that you will have sweet dreams that way.
- Try the 1, 4, 5 breathing trick: Close your eyes and breathe in for one second. Then exhale for four seconds. Do this five times.
- Rather use an old-fashioned alarm clock than your telephone alarm. If you use your phone's alarm clock, you may end up checking your email or apps. Instead, read a book or magazine before going to sleep. Reading relaxes your mind. In addition, your eyes become tired from reading, which makes you feel the need to sleep more quickly.
- As much as you may worry about not being able to fall asleep quickly, always remember that it's perfectly normal if you can't sleep well for a while every now and then. There can be many different reasons for this, and often people themselves have no idea what is causing their problem. Fortunately, insomnia often goes away on its own over time.
- If you decide to cover the light sources in your bedroom, be careful not to create a fire hazard. For example, do not cover a light source such as a light bulb with paper or cloth. When using candles, always blow them out before going to sleep and never leave them unattended. If you're not sure if you're going to stay awake to blow out the candles, use them by no means in your bedroom! Or you can put the candle on a large plate where it will burn itself in a safe way.
- Try not to fall asleep with the television on, or you will let your body get used to the sound and you won't fall asleep without it. If you wake up in the middle of the night and feel unbearably quiet, you may find it difficult to fall back asleep.
- Do not drink chamomile tea if you are allergic to pollen or ragweed, or if you are taking blood thinners.
- Keep track of exactly how many sleeping pills you use (whether or not on a doctor's prescription). Such drugs can be addictive, so that you can no longer do without them over time. Also, sleeping pills can have side effects that can affect your daily activities, and they can affect the overall quality of your sleep.