How to Sleep Better

how to improve sleep hygiene

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

Sleep is one of life’s greatest gifts and it does wonders for our mental and physical health. However, sleep can be complicated, and insufficient sleep is a public epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sleep takes up a third of our life and it has a tremendous impact on how we live, function, and perform during the other two-thirds of our lives. Sleep is indeed as vital as the air we breathe and the food we eat. 

In the United States, 70% of adult individuals report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night. It is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes.

Whether is it too much sleep, too little sleep, or nighttime awakenings that result in interrupted sleep, we as a nation can improve on our sleep hygiene.

What Is Good Sleep Hygiene?

Understanding sleep hygiene and getting a good routine set up for yourself will help you getter better and more refreshing sleep.

Be Consistent

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, and make sure you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Inconsistent sleep schedules or poor sleep can lead to:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unnecessary stress levels
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety

Keep in mind that if you are sleeping too much regularly (more than 10 hours a night), this can be a sign of depression. 

Make Sure Your Bedroom Is Comfortable

Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Sleep at a cool temperature (approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit), block out light with heavy curtains or eyeshades, and drown out noise with a white noise machine or earplugs.

You should also make sure your bedroom is de-cluttered and clean. You can even try calming candles or aromatherapy scents such as lavender or chamomile. 

Also, make sure to only use your bedroom for sleeping and sex. Don’t use your bed as an office or as a couch to watch television.

How To Invest in Your Bed and Bedding

Your sleeping surface is critical to your mental and physical health. A poorly designed or old mattress and pillow can result in interrupted sleep, back pain, and neck pain.

  1. Select a supportive bed and pillows: Make sure you are sleeping on a bed and pillow that has enough support and comfort for your body.
  2. Look for quality bedding: Since we do spend about one-third of our life sleeping, quality bedding might be a good investment for you.

Avoid Blue Light Before Bed

The use of artificial lighting and electronics at night may contribute to sleep problems. Electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and televisions emit light of a blue wavelength, which may trick your brain into thinking it is daytime. This, in turn, can disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Many studies suggest that blue light in the evening disrupts your brain’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which is crucial for optimal health.

Getting blue light during the day, especially from the sun, can help you stay alert while reducing fatigue and improving your mood and performance.

Avoid all electronics for 30 minutes to one hour before bed. 

Get Up When You Can't Sleep

On some nights, it can de difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. You may toss and turn, stare at the clock, count sheep, and become frustrated.

If you try falling asleep but find yourself tossing and turning for 20 minutes or more, get out of bed and do something relaxing such as reading a book, journaling, listening to music, or meditating. Then return to bed and try again. 

Establish a Calming Sleep Routine

Whether this is taking a warm bath before bed, meditating, or reading, create a wind-down routine that relaxes your body and mind before you get into bed. The goal is to crawl into bed when you are relaxed and tired, not stressed out and wide awake. 

How Daily Life Affects Sleep

Our daytime routine is just as important as our pre-bed nighttime routine. We must take care of our mental and physical health during the day so we can obtain a solid night’s sleep. During the day, it's important to:

  • Get outside
  • Be physically active
  • Avoid nicotine
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption in the evening
  • Avoid late-night eating

The basic concept of sleep hygiene, that your environment and sleep habits can be optimized for better sleep, applies to just about everyone. But what ideal sleep hygiene looks like can vary among each individual.

In other words, your sleep routine may not work for your friend, but that does not mean that your sleep routine is right or wrong. It simply means that it works for you.

Additionally, you may need to try different routines and methods to find out what helps you sleep the best. But it is also important to know that improving sleep hygiene may not resolve underlying sleep problems or mental health disorders.

Depression, insomnia, anxiety, and obstructive sleep apnea may require professional treatment. So if you feel like you have exhausted all of your sleep routine methods, it may be time to talk to a therapist or doctor. You deserve the best sleep possible. 

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Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. Updated February 16, 2016.

  2. American Sleep Apnea Association. Sleep Health in America. 2017.

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