How to Get Quality Sleep

Three Methods:Setting a Sleep ScheduleClearing Your Bedroom of DistractionsGetting Tired Daily

The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. Getting the right number of hours every night is unlikely to benefit you if you are frequently waking up, if you sleep at wildly different times, or if you sleep shallowly. Alcohol, caffeine, light, noise, and worry can all interfere with the quality of your sleep. To get a quality rest, set a sleep schedule that works with your body's natural rhythms. Eliminate stressors and distractions, and establish a comforting bedtime routine.

Method 1
Setting a Sleep Schedule

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    Establish a regular bedtime and wake up time. You will sleep the most soundly if you go to bed and wake up around the same times every day. This rhythm helps your body prepare for sleep. Work, children, and other demands on your time may determine your rhythm.
    • Many sleepers, especially night owls, may be tempted to sleep in longer on weekends. Try to keep the same wake-up time, even on weekends.
    • If you have been sleep deprived, you may need a little extra sleep for a few nights.
    • If you are sick, let yourself sleep extra.[1] Reestablish your sleep routines as soon as you can, however.
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    Determine your natural sleep schedule. If you have the freedom to determine your own sleep schedule, do so around the rhythms of your body. Your body has natural waking and sleeping moments. Notice the times you become tired, and the times you feel the most awake.
    • To establish a natural sleep rhythm, spend a week or two waking up without an alarm clock. Keep a log with all the times you wake up.
    • Keep a parallel account of the times at night you feel sleepy enough to put yourself to bed.
    • You may find that these numbers become more consistent after a few days without your alarm.
    • Formalize your bedtime. Once you have established your natural waking and falling asleep times, set a routine around them. Wake up and fall asleep on that schedule consistently.
    • If your natural sleep routine seems to be inconsistent, you may need to experiment with setting different bedtimes and seeing which ones feel best.
    • "Morning" people tend to have an easier time setting their sleep schedules. If you tend to be more energetic in the evening, you may just need to set a sleep time.[2]
    • Make sure your formalized sleep schedule gives you the right amount of sleep. If it doesn't, your numbers may be off.
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    Sleep enough. If you are an adult, you need to sleep 7-8 hours a night. If you are a teenager or a child, you will need 9-11 hours of sleep, and toddlers and babies will need roughly three hours of naptime during the day as well.[3] Sleeping too little can expose you to higher risks of illness, anxiety, and disease. Sleeping too much, however, may reduce the quality of your sleep.
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    Stay asleep. Do everything in your power to avoid waking up at night. This can be difficult if you are an evening person, if you have children, or if you are a light sleeper. Making arrangements in your bedroom and winding down properly can make a huge difference, but so can prioritizing staying asleep. Tell yourself and tell everyone you live with that you need to stay asleep all night.
    • Limit liquids in the hours before bed if you are someone who gets up to use the bathroom.
    • Older adults still need 7-8 hours of sleep, but may sleep more lightly and wake up frequently. If you are elderly, take naps and spend a little more time in bed than 8 hours.
    • If you have a baby under a year old, sleep deprivation is part of the deal. You can help by maintaining a few boundaries. Your baby should sleep in his or her own crib, though you may bring your baby into bed for nighttime nursing.
    • Try waiting the baby out for the first few fusses or cries. Don't ignore the fussing, but give it a chance—a few minutes of noise might just mean your baby is settling down.[4]
    • Establish a wakeup schedule with your partner or other adult sharing parenting duties with you.
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    Wind down the same way every night. Your bedtime routine should be consistent. Start brushing your teeth, washing your face, and doing your final shut-downs of the house at the same time and in the same order every night. Add steps that you find soothing so that your body knows it is time to relax.
    • You might take a warm bath or shower every night, for instance.
    • Dim the lights so that you begin settling in.
    • Play soothing music rather than watching television or looking at a screen. Screen time before bed may keep you awake.[5]
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    Get up briefly if you don't immediately fall asleep. Although you are best off getting in bed and falling asleep at the same time every night, some nights you can't fall asleep right away. If you haven't fallen asleep after 15 minutes, get up and do a brief, relaxing activity. Drink some hot water, brush your hair, read a little bit. Then put yourself to bed again as soon as you feel sleepy.[6]
    • You want to train your body out of staying awake in bed.
    • Being worried about falling asleep can keep you awake.
    • If this happens frequently, you may need to adjust your sleep schedule.
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    Turn off your alarm. Alarms interfere with your quality of sleep. Try training yourself to wake up at the same time every morning. If you can't rely on your natural body clock, set an alarm. However, if you are able to forgo it, forgo it.[7]

Method 2
Clearing Your Bedroom of Distractions

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    Keep your room dark at night. Get good curtains to block streetlight, and consider getting blackout curtains if you are really disturbed by light. Eliminate light sources in your bedroom—anything that emits light should be turned to face the wall or turned off. Nightlights are a bad idea.
    • In the hours before you sleep, dim the lights in your house and avoid screens.[8]
    • If you share a room with someone who needs lights on in the morning or after you have gone to bed, sleep with a soft cotton sleep mask.
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    Control for volume. Though some ambient noise may be comforting, you are less likely to sleep well in a house full of irregular noises. Consider earplugs if you live with other people. Set a noise policy with your housemates or family that will keep the house quiet at nighttime.[9]
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    Cool down. Piling on blankets may make you feel sleepy, but being overheated can actually interfere with your sleep. Regulate your room's temperature and toss off blankets if you are hot. Sleep naked if you feel comfortable doing so, so your body can self-regulate its temperature.[10]
    • Lower the heat at night. Your core temperature goes down at night, so keeping your house cool will help you stay comfortable.[11]
    • Some people believe that taking a cool shower at night may help you fall asleep, as it lowers the body's temperature to the level it's at when you sleep.
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    Nest in a supportive bed. The quality of your mattress and pillow can affect your sleep. You will sleep best on a mattress that feels right to you. Your mattress may need replacing every seven years, or earlier if it is sagging or uncomfortable.[12] If you wake up with a sore neck or back, or if you sleep better in other places than you do at home, you may need a new mattress.
    • Make sure your bed is the right length and width. If you are sharing a bed, make sure there is space for both of you to move naturally.
    • Set limits with pets and children if sharing your bed wakes you up or crowds you.
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    Keep your room clear. It's hard to relax in a cluttered room. Tidy up at night, and put away anything that reminds you of daily cares. Your work should be out of sight. Remove any unnecessary belongings from your room, and store them elsewhere.[13] Keep a clear path between your bed and the door.

Method 3
Getting Tired Daily

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    Nap briefly and rarely. Unless you are a baby or an elderly person, napping will lower the quality of your sleep. If you must nap, keep it under 30 minutes. Long naps will make you sleepy all day and wakeful at night. Take your naps in the mid afternoon. This is the time least likely to disturb your sleep schedule.[14]
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    Exercise, but not in the evening. During the day, get out your natural physical energy. Go for a run, a walk, or a long bike ride. Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week if you are a healthy adult. Get a mix of aerobic activity and strength exercises, and break up all periods of sitting with breaks in which you move.[15]
    • Cease all vigorous exercise in the two hours before you sleep.
    • Moderate stretching and walking in the evening will not interfere with sleep.
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    Eat the right amount. Going to bed hungry or stuffed will disrupt your sleep. Try to finish your eating 2-3 hours before you go to bed. If you are prone to stomach acid, be especially vigilant about this. If it's been 4 or 5 hours since you've eaten, however, eat a light snack before you settle down.[16]
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    Drink coffee and booze in moderation. Caffeine will interfere with your sleep if ingested within the six hours before bedtime. Avoid coffee and tea in the evening, as well as caffeinated soda and dark chocolate.[17] If you are having a drink, have it at least an hour before bedtime. For every drink you have, add another hour for your body to process the alcohol.
    • For example, if you go to bed at 10 and you want to have two drinks, finish drinking them by 8.[18]
    • Although alcohol can help you feel tired and relaxed, it actually interferes with the quality of your sleep.[19]
    • Alcohol plunges you into deep sleep, pushing you past the REM stage and causing you to wake up early and unrested. It can also cause you to urinate, sweat, and snore, all of which can disturb your sleep.
    • If you like a warm drink at night, try herbal tea, warm milk, or just warm water.
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    Just say no to meds, drugs, and cigarettes. Sleep medication can mess up the quality of your sleep and the consistency of your sleep routine. Avoid them whenever possible.[20] Avoid smoking or doing drugs before bedtime.[21]
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    Confront stressors. Stress and worry will keep you up at night. Establishing a consistent wind-down routine will help you communicate to yourself that it is time to sleep. If you are plagued by thoughts of things you need to do, keep a pad by your bed where you can jot them down before you go to sleep. After you write them down, remind yourself that you cannot worry about them right now.
    • Tell yourself "now is not the time to solve problems, logistical or emotional. Now I just have to sleep."

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