How Get A Better Night Of Sleep

I used to suffer from long stretches of restless sleep and borderline insomnia. My issues were pretty common: inability to fall and stay asleep, night sweats, a seemingly instinctual worry about waking up on time and—all the while—a mind that simply would not stop churning even when I was completely exhausted. The easy and restful sleep that I would fall into naturally as a child and adolescent had given way into fitful bouts of transient slumber.

While issues with a person’s ability to regularly get restful sleep are often multifold, consider a few points that a person can address immediately to improve their sleep.


Address The Physical Environment

Quite possibly the easiest and most effective way to correct restless sleep habits is to address the direct physical environment around sleeping.

A quality mattress can go a long way in curing issues with sleep. However, what a person would consider a pleasant mattress to slumber upon is a matter that is purely of taste. Some prefer a rock-solid mattress that provides stiff back support and others like myself greatly prefer a softer mattress that makes sleeping on your side much more comfortable. This is entirely a personal inquiry: a person simply needs to lie on mattress of differing sizes and softness to ascertain what fits best for themselves.

Besides a mattress, pillows, comforters, and blankets also play a significant factor in a person’s ability to enjoy restful sleep. Just like mattresses, pillows come in varying shapes, sizes and thicknesses. One simply needs test out differing pillows to find what fits best for their head and neck.

People sometimes forget that by simply trying out a softer mattress or a stiffer pillow, they can help themselves fall and stay asleep. Personally, I recently purchased a thick, velvet blanket and sleep on it, rather than under it. This is incredibly soft and comfortable and has helped improved my quality of sleep.

Outside of the actual bedding, maintaining a peaceful and quiet bedroom is important. Televisions, computers, and other electronic devices can aggravate a person’s ability to fall and stay asleep. Ideally, a person’s bedroom should be void of those electronic hassles and keep their bedroom as spartan as possible. By dedicating a space that is reserved for primarily for sleeping, it can train the body to feel a certain space is devoted to sleep.

Woman Reading a Book at Home

Develop Relaxing Habits Before Sleeping

What goes a bit in hand with the aforementioned advice is developing relaxing habits that one partakes in before bedtime. Personally, I usually play a bit of a video game (not more than an hour) before picking up a fiction book and reading for a spell before bed. I sometimes check sports scores on ESPN or general sporting news to ensure that my mind is free and clear of distracting or mind-consuming thoughts before I retire for the night.

Like I mentioned earlier about not being able to wind your mind down before bed, developing relaxing habits before bed helps ward off anxious or bothersome thoughts before bed. If you read firebrand opinion pieces before bed or watch Stephen King’s Carrie before lying down for sleep, you are not helping yourself enjoy a comfortable night of sleep. Leave that sort of stuff for the waking hours and reserve calming activities like fiction reading or meditation before trying to sleep.


Consider Sleep Aids

Sleeps aids can either be over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. The average individual should try various over-the-counter methods first before any prescription medication and any serious questions about medicinal sleep aids should be directed at a medical professional, ideally a doctor. I will only be considering non-prescription aids for sleep.

As far as over-the-counter remedies, there are far too many to consider in this piece. I will consider the few I have experience with: melatonin, chamomile tea, and Benadryl.

Hot beverages at or near the time you plan to draw up the sheets can be an effective method of helping induce slumber. Hot chocolate, a hot drink with a spot of liquor, or simply a warm glass of milk can calm your nerves, relax the body, or give you a pleasant sense of fullness before lying down for sleep.

However, the most relaxing drink to consume before sleep in my experience is chamomile tea. Apparently, there is some dispute as to its actual ability to induce sleep, but I do believe that it helps calm nerves, relax the body and, as such, help somebody fall asleep.

Benadryl is the brand name for a class of antihistamines. While it is primarily used as drug to fight off allergic reactions, Benadryl can also cause drowsiness. This drug is found in NyQuil, TylenolPM and a host of other over the counter drugs that target common colds and occasional sleeplessness.

It should only be used for short term issues with sleep, but it certainly works in causing drowsiness. I have found these drugs to help greatly with falling asleep, but I have only used them when I was sick with some sort of cold or flu.

The over the counter aid I have the most experience with is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted at higher levels during nighttime hours. It is available over the counter in low doses at 1 mg and doses all the way up to 10 mg. It is quite powerful at the higher doses and most certainly helps induce sleep. It isn’t habit forming and isn’t hard on the liver and kidneys like medicines like Benadryl.

However, I would counsel that melatonin should be used as sparingly as possible. Medicinal sleep aids should necessarily used as little as is and it can become all too easy to get used to popping a 5 mg tablet at night before sleep. Melatonin can aid a person greatly in falling asleep, but it does little to help the body and mind stay asleep and it can get a bit costly if you get used to ingesting a couple 10 mg tablets a night.

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34 thoughts on “How Get A Better Night Of Sleep”

  1. My number one sleep-tip: read. Read a book of your choice—-something that interests you so as to distract you from the other things going on in your life—-with as few pictures as possible.
    Knocks-me out everytime.
    That and avoid alcohol (a glass of wine is perfectly alright though) and working out right before bedtime.
    Also, I get cold at night very easily so an electric mattress pad is a must in winter-time.

  2. Wouldn’t recommend taking pills if you can help it. I think developing a sleep routine that you stick to would be far better. I wake up at 7am Monday to Friday so the night before I tend to go to bed between 10pm and 10:30. On weekends I tend to wake up around 8am so go to bed at 11pm. Unless I’m going to a bar of course. Having a good routine that is easy to stick to is far better than becoming dependent on pills.

      1. Melatonin is a great antioxidant. You also produce less of it as you age. I wouldn’t avoid pills just because they are pills.

  3. If you don’t have sleep problems in general but you can’t fall asleep on Sundays, it means you hate your job.

    1. Not necessarily. Sometimes I can’t sleep on Sundays because I’ve just not taxed myself as much in the daytime.

  4. “By dedicating a space that is reserved for primarily for sleeping, it can train the body to feel a certain space is devoted to sleep.”
    This hack improved my quality of sleep. By dedicating a separate room for work and another for sleep I trained myself to associate a specific space with sleep. Think Pavlov’s dog.

  5. I find that getting on the computer for a while helps depending on what you do. If I’m checking emails, thinking about things I have to do, it will make it harder to fall asleep, but watching some of a movie or watching some funny videos helps me relax.

  6. Take a power nap in the afternoon if you can. even if it’s just for 20 minutes.

  7. My Dr also now says that disrupted sleep is thought to be a driver for hypertension.
    Tangential but emphasizes the importance of this issue.

  8. Bedrooms are for sleep and sex. Nothing else. No TVs, no serious talks, no objects that might need maintenance.

    1. One of my friends bought a bed with a TV mounted in it. I can’t imagine anything worse.

  9. do an intense workout when you FIRST wake up, before work if possible, that way when you get off you don’t have the burden of exercise, possibly do your running before work, you’ll be less stressed all day and go to bed on time, also running on a fast enhances the powerful benefits of exercise(look it up)…. Start slowly at first or you will have a low blood sugar episode, and feel faint and vomit, the body adapts and you become more insulin sensitive(very powerful health indicator) you also program your body to realize its need to have most of it’s energy in the morning combined with coffee you will be excited to start your day, VS exhausted and cramming in your exercise after work
    You want your energy curve to be strong in the morning, and sluggish at night, this is the key
    Meditation is powerful, But it will take you a few months to get good enough to get into “delta” waves. big pay-off though, healthy sleep on command, i myself, am good enough to basically use a suggestive input i created hypnotically, where i simply pass out immediately, you practise this until it becomes more powerful over time
    At first meditation feels fruitless, than you persist and you get a subtle relaxation, if you keep at it, it becomes a profound euphoric “trance” but does take months
    Inspiration from the:
    led me to experiment with dissociation through strobe lights, which actually do change your current state into a dissociated trance, try different speeds and color settings and see which dissociate you the most, of course, the downside is falling asleep with a strobe light flashing, but it will make you dizzy and more open to suggestion, the “suggestion you tell yourself to give into exhaustion” , when you close your eyes, through your eyelids you will start to see light and eventually hallucinate, once the vivid hallucinations start, you are highly suggestible, and any kind of hypnosis you use is more effective,

    1. I sometimes have trouble sleeping if I lift after work. Unless I jog after lifting.

  10. -A few glasses of whiskey or a couple of tall boys of Steel Reserve always do the trick for me.
    -If you’re desperate for sleep, a jerk or fuck session could be in order.
    -Check your afternoon caffeine consumption. If you’re drinking coffee too late in the day, then you may be staying up later too.
    -‘Sounds for Sleep.’
    -Some bullshit TV or talk radio on your radio-clock can help too (remember to set the “sleep” so that it shuts off)… I’ve been falling asleep to Adult Swim or Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast” intermittently for two decades now.

  11. I find one thing that helps is to write on my list of daily goals each morning to be in bed, fully, by 10pm. Maybe not asleep, but in bed, lights out, air con turned set to a cold temp, all ready to snooze.
    Then, I turn my phone on to aeroplane mode, plug it in to charge, and launch the sleep cycle app for my iPhone to help measure the quality of my sleep.
    Because as Tim Ferris says, anything you can measure, you can improve.

  12. I’ve used melatonin extensively too, but I don’t recommend it as it is habit forming, i.e it downregulates natural production of the hormone, and it may decrease natural testosterone as well.

  13. Find out WHY you can’t sleep. There is good sleep hygiene as listed in the article but you need to investigate WHY you’re not sleeping. A scourge is OSA /Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is super common. It is where your soft tissues in the back of your throat (e.g tonsils etc) collapse and block your airway. Your airway is blocked and oxygen level drops ( oxygen desaturation) and your sleep is constantly interrupted. You get no restorative sleep. No REM sleep. This condition is diagnosed with a sleep study done at a sleep center. So if you have trouble sleeping see your doctor who can arrange a sleep study…

  14. I have gone through bouts of insomnia my entire life. They just seem to come and go with no real linkage to mental state, season of year, stress level, etc. This has caused me to do a lot of research on sleep.
    Generally, for me, what works is abstaining from anything that has screen about an hour before bedtime. I usually read a book or brainstorm using a chalkboard I keep in my residence. I live in an urban area so noise at night is natural. To help drown out unwanted street noise I use a simple white noise machine. It does the trick quite well.
    My bedroom is just for sleeping and banging. Nothing else, other then dressing because that is where my closet is located. I actively try to never bring a computer or even my phone into the room. This helps your mind associate the room with sleep.
    I try to stay away from sleep meds. I find that 7-8 hours of sleep on a med is the equivalent of about 2-3 natural hours of sleep for me. But, the OTC stuff works fine if you need to get through a patch of insomnia. But, if you find you need it for more then two weeks straight think about seeing your doctor. The prescription stuff works a little better, but at least for me, it gives me weird dreams so I generally stay away from them. If you are really dealing with moderate to severe insomnia though consider using themas part of your course of treatment. Ask your doctor though if an anti-anxiety medicine might be better then Lunesta or Ambien. The action of these drugs are different but usually give you the same result without the “drag” the next day.
    A quality mattress and linens are of course obvious. I find keeping my bedroom around 60 degrees helps a lot. Also try taking a quick warm shower 30 minutes before bedtime. This can help relax your muscles.
    There is a ton of good literature out there about good sleep habits. (That wasn’t true as of maybe ten years ago). A simple internet search can answer most of your questions. A quick trip to your doctor too is advisable. There may be an underlying health cause to your insomnia.

  15. IMO the trick to sleep well is to enjoy sleep. Tell yourself that sleep is something pleasant and that it will rejuvenate your body. You will fall asleep quickly. Now tell yourself that sleeping is boring and that you are going to bed like if it was a chore, I bet you will turn around in your bed for hours.

    1. Lol, trying telling yourself “I have a big meeting at 8 am tomorrow and I’m not sure if I will fall asleep tonight”.
      Even a couple of weeks of that is enough to turn anyone into a raving lunatic.

  16. Develop a firm sleep routine, eliminate all computers, and smart phones and bright lights 2 hours before bed. exercise a few times a week. And work and work hard and make a good decent effort. You should have no trouble sleeping the harder you work.

  17. The wife of the pastor at the Baptist church my wife attends here in rural Mexico was having terrible insomnia, and chronically so. In church she looked sleepy and tired and yawned constantly.
    I explained about EFT. (Google: EFT Gary Craig ) I told her to use the words in Spanish, “even though I can’t sleep I accept myself.” And, taught her the tapping sequence.
    A week later I asked her about it. The first night she used EFT she didn’t wake up at 3 am. Her husband had to wake her up at 10 am because he was hungry. I asked him, “Can’t you cook?” He laughed and said “Yes, but I am not going to do it.”
    Now she looks well rested and happy.
    For the benefit of the nay sayers, No I do not have any financial benefits from EFT. It happens to work for many people in a wide range of problems. One special area is PTSD for combat veterans. Most folks can learn it for free, though practitioners are available at great cost.

  18. I don’t recommend using drugs that cause drowsiness. Drowsiness or drugged sleep is not restful sleep.
    I also recommend playing music designed to calm the mind and induce sleep. This has been very effective for me.
    Last, try to make your bedroom as dark as possible or use a blindfold.

    1. I can’t stay asleep all night with sounds, but definitely agree about keeping it dark. That requires *real* blackout curtains like from Eclipse , not the cheap ones from department stores.

      1. You could try natural sounds. I love staying by the beach for example. The sound of waves is very soothing.

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