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How to Sleep Better - Tips for Quality ZZZs

Updated on March 23, 2012

Tired? Try These Tips to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Sometimes the reason you do no sleep well is a simple issue with comfort and an inability to relax. If you feel restless, try these tips:

  1. Focus on relaxing, not sleeping. In order to sleep, your body must be relaxed. Instead of trying to go to sleep, simply try to relax. Sleep will come.
  2. Take a moment to relax before your go to sleep. Give your brain something simple to do before you go to sleep. Read, stretch, or listen to music. Don't make your to-do list for the next day right before you close your eyes or try to finish up work. If you do those things at night, insert a relaxing activity into the space between the stressor and sleep.
  3. Turn down the lights before you turn them off. If you go from brightness to darkness, you may not be as relaxed as you ought to be in order to get good sleep. Before you go to sleep, do your relaxing activity in low lighting.
  4. Make your bedroom darker. Sometimes light can show through your eyelids while your trying to sleep, and you actually see and watch that light. That makes it hard for your brain to relax. Try making your room darker or covering up light sources.
  5. Flip your mattress. When you sleep in the same position or same spot every night, the shape of your mattress can shift. Your problem may simply be that you're sleeping on a lump!
  6. Adjust the temperature in your bedroom. It's important to not be too hot or cold in order to be comfortable. You may need to just turn up the A/C at nighttime. It is also important to balance daytime and nighttime temperatures because in the daytime, you are moving around and not under blankets.

Methods for Falling Asleep

  1. Try deep breathing exercises. Take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds. Hold it for five seconds. Let it out for five seconds. Repeat three to five times, then simply take deep breaths in and out without holding it.
  2. Focus on a calm image in your mind. Do you like the beach? Or mountainous scenes? Or a serene, snow-covered lake? Pick a relaxing scene and conjure it up in your mind. Look at it and push all of your other thoughts away.
  3. Progressively tense and relax your muscles. Start by tightening the muscles in your toes. Hold it while you count to three, and slowly release. Then move to your feet. Then your ankles and your calves, and so on. Move all the way up your body until you get to the very top of your head. Allow yourself to stop if you feel sleep coming on.
  4. Focus on a word. Much like the calm image exercise, this technique focuses your mind on one thing. Pick a simple word about something you like. Try something short, but multisyllabic, like "pillow." One syllable words, like "dog," start to sound too repetitive and may actually annoy you. Try "puppy" instead. Repeat the word--slowly--to yourself over and over again, pushing away all of your other thoughts. "Puppy... puppy... puppy..." Not "puppy, puppy, puppy." The methodic repetition is soothing, and the focus required can help take your mind off of other stressors.

What You Can Do in the Daytime to Sleep Better at Night

  1. Don't have caffeine after 3 p.m. In fact, if you can handle it, don't have caffeine in the afternoon at all. Caffeine can make your mind race, and a racing mind is not a restful mind.
  2. Don't have sugar after 7 p.m. Sugar can make you hyper, which can make your mind race and jumble your thoughts.
  3. Exercise! Get out there and move around! Your muscles need to be tired out in order to successfully relax. Even if you go for a walk after dinner or during your lunch hour at work, do something to get oxygen into your system. If you're really committed, try yoga or other relaxing exercise practices.
  4. Go outside and get some sun. It's good to be exposed to bright, natural light in the daytime as much as possible. That way, your mind recognizes the contrast at night and knows it's time to relax. If you are inside at work, open the blinds.

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    • SarahLinny profile image

      Sarah Carson 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thank you Yvette! I hope that it helps someone who needs it.

    • YvetteParker profile image

      YvetteParker 5 years ago from AUGUSTA, GA

      Excellent article. You have provided enough tips such that readers are able to pick and choose just the right tip(s) that work for them to achieve quality sleep. Thank you for sharing.