You’ve probably heard this advice before: a good night’s sleep is the secret to a better, happier life. It’s not just empty words. Constant lack of sleep can have serious consequences in the long run. For example, insufficient sleep increases your risk of obesity and diabetes, leads to impaired cognitive function, and even causes depression.


We all know that getting enough sleep every night is one of the best ways to feel energized and happy throughout the day – but for many of us, it remains challenging as we lead busy lives. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, almost one-third of adults report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep on an average night. 


Fortunately, there are some simple tricks you can use to get more restful nights and lead a healthier lifestyle overall. Read on for some great advice on how you can stick with a routine that will leave you feeling refreshed every morning.


Establish a regular bedtime routine

A bedtime routine has many advantages over a strict bedtime. If you go to bed with the same thought patterns and behaviours every night, your body will start associating them with sleep. You might think about what you need to get done the next day, or any issues you’re facing; if you go to sleep with this running through your head, you’ll be more likely to lie awake for a long time, unable to drop off. 

A bedtime routine can help you to drop off more quickly, meaning that you’ll get more rest even if you don’t have a strict bedtime. Examples of a bedtime routine include reading a book, journaling, meditation, or even just having a cup of tea while reading a magazine.


Don’t eat too late at night

A large meal at the end of the day can cause digestive problems, making it difficult to get to sleep. Ideally, you should finish eating about three hours before your bedtime. That way, the food has enough time to digest, but you’re not lying awake in bed with a growling stomach. It’s also important to avoid drinking too much water before bed. You can wake up frequently to go to the bathroom, which will inhibit your ability to get quality sleep. If you want to eat a meal before bed, try something light. A bowl of cereal, or a small smoothie, are easy options that won’t disrupt your sleep.


Get blackout curtains and good lighting

One of the most common issues that people have with sleep is light. If you have too much light in your bedroom, you’ll have a much harder time falling asleep. Some people, particularly those who work the night shift, will benefit from using blackout curtains. This will block out light coming in from outside. 

If you don’t have blackout curtains, or if you don’t have enough light coming in to block out the sun, there are plenty of lighting solutions. You can simply use a regular lamp with a dimmer switch, or you can use a specialized sleep light. 


Don’t multitask an hour before bed

A lot of people like to wind down with a little TV; it helps them to relax so that they can fall asleep. Unfortunately, this is a bad move. The blue light emitted by TV and computer screens can actually disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, try to do something relaxing, but low-key, like reading a book or having a cup of tea. Alternatively, if you are someone who likes to journal or meditate, then journaling or meditating can be a great way to wind down.


Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve your sleep. Exercise helps to improve sleep quality in a number of ways. First, it improves your overall health and wellness, which leads to lower stress levels and a better mood at the end of the day. Exercise is also excellent for helping you to regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your sleep timing. 

Regular exercise can also help you to reduce insomnia, especially among people who suffer from mild insomnia. If you have difficulty sleeping, try exercising regularly to improve your sleep quality. You can engage in aerobic exercise (like brisk walking, running, swimming, or cycling), or strength training. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our article on how to start a regular exercise routine.


Meditate or do breathing exercises

If you have trouble falling asleep, it may be a good idea to try meditating or doing breathing exercises before you go to bed. Choose something that works for you. There are plenty of guides available online to help you get started. Alternatively, you can try using an app like Calm or Headspace. Meditation is a great way to relax your body and clear your head, making it easier to fall asleep. If you don’t have the patience for it, try doing some breathing exercises instead. Focus on your breathing, and how it feels as you inhale and exhale.


Track your sleep habits and conditions to identify problem areas

If you’ve tried everything on this list and you’re still having trouble sleeping, it’s time to start tracking your sleep habits. 

Figure out when you’re getting the most sleep, and when you’re getting the least. Do you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep? Is it consistent? Start keeping a sleep journal to track your sleep habits, and you’ll be able to identify problem areas. You might find that you wake up every night at the same time, in which case you can adjust your schedule to accommodate your body. Or maybe you’re getting too much light in your bedroom. Once you’ve tracked your sleep habits and conditions, you can take steps to improve them.


Bottom line

Getting enough sleep is essential to your health, productivity, and well-being. Unfortunately, the modern world makes this incredibly difficult. The good news is that there are loads of ways to improve your sleep. All you need to do is make a few small changes. And then you’ll be well on your way to a better quality of life. Don’t eat late at night, use blackout curtains, don’t multitask before bed, exercise regularly, and you may even want to consider meditating or doing breathing exercises. All of these things are proven to improve sleep and will make your life better in so many ways.