Tips to Help You Sleep Better

With everything we all juggle on a daily basis, how can we ensure increased sleep quantity and quality?

Updated on December 17, 2017 14:12 pm

Becki Ledford

A sketch of a woman sleeping in bed

We live in a world that highly values productivity and hard work. As great and important as that is, many of us sacrifice sleep to make everything else in our lives happen. How often have you heard someone say (or said yourself) that “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” to do it all?

While it may sound obvious, inadequate sleep can leave us exhausted. What may not be so obvious is that exhaustion and fatigue slow down our reaction time. This can be quite dangerous, especially if you are driving. Lack of sleep can also disrupt hormone regulation, leading to a host of issues—from acne breakouts to significant weight gain.

Hormone imbalances and fatigue can also affect our mood. People who do not get adequate sleep report higher levels of depression and anxiety. There are also implications for memory consolidation, which largely happens while we sleep. If you are suddenly feeling very forgetful, lack of sleep may be the culprit.

With everything we all juggle on a daily basis, how can we ensure increased sleep quantity and quality?

1. Understand the 5 stages of sleep.

An infographic showing the 5 stages of sleep

2. Establish a nighttime routine.

While you may feel like staying up to watch the next episode of your favorite TV show on Netflix is a good idea and that you can always catch up on sleep later, research has shown that is not really the case. It turns out “catching up” on sleep is essentially a myth, and our bodies need consistent sleep to function properly. One of the best ways to get our bodies ready for sleep is to establish a routine.

An infographic on the nightly routine for better sleep

Even with a routine, you may find that it isn’t always so easy to fall asleep once you get in bed. It may be time to rethink not only when you sleep but where you sleep.

3. Maximize your sleep space.

Years ago, every room in a house had a unique purpose and the bedroom was not used for paperwork, watching television, or eating. In recent years, however, the bedroom has, in many households, become the center of the home, where activity is buzzing. To help improve your sleep, reserve the bedroom for that purpose.

An infographic on maximising your sleep space

But what if even after you have turned your bedroom into a sleep haven and established a routine for the evening you can’t seem to shut off your mind?

4. Try relaxation routines.

  • Progressive relaxation: this is a great option for people who feel antsy when they get in the bed, like their bodies just won’t turn off. Progressive relaxation is a method of gently and consciously relaxing each part of the body one at a time until the entire body is relaxed. Practice makes perfect, and there are apps that can help guide you.
  • Meditation: it may be that your body is ready for bed, but your mind isn’t. Meditating can help relax your mind to help you fall asleep (and sleep more soundly). If you are new to meditation or find it difficult, there are also apps and recordings you can purchase for guided meditation. The most important thing is to test out the voices on them because you won’t be able to relax if you are annoyed by the person guiding you.
  • Light reading: avoid mysteries, thrillers, horror, etc. The last thing you need when trying to go to sleep is wondering whodunit, but reading before bed can help slow your thoughts about what is going on in your own life so you can turn your mind off when you turn off the lights.

5. See a professional.

If you try all of these tips and still can’t seem to fall asleep or stay asleep, there is no shame in seeing a professional. A small dose of a sleeping medication or someone to talk to about what’s going on in your life may be just what you need to get back on track.

Article originally posted in Edited and reposted with permission.

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