How to Have a Good Night's Sleep

Three Methods:Developing a Schedule & RoutineKeeping Good Sleep Habits Throughout the DayPreparing Before Bed

Having trouble sleeping? The long term effects of sleep deprivation can leave you physically and emotionally drained as much as waking life can. Sleep is vital and having restful sleep helps your body to re-energize and heal itself while your mind wanders around dreamland. Here's a definitive guide to getting the best night's sleep possible.

Method 1
Developing a Schedule & Routine

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    Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time. For every single day of the week (weekends included), what time would be best for you to go to sleep and wake up? Keep in mind you want to squeeze in around 8 hours of sleep a night. If that means going to bed at 11, well, that means going to bed at 11.
    • The idea here is that you'll be training your brain (that's why it has to be an everyday thing). When 11 PM rolls around, you'll enter automatic shut down. And then when 7 AM comes up, up and at 'em you'll be! What times would be ideal for you?
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    • Adults need 7 to 9 hours, on average; however, if you're under 18, you need at least 8.5 -- probably more.[1]
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    Stick to that time every day. Alright, so you've decided that you need to be up by 7 for work, so to get 8 hours of sleep a night you need to go to bed by 11. For starters, cancel all your late night plans, at least for the next two weeks or so. You must go to bed at that time and get up at that time. That's the only way it'll become easy to fall asleep and stay asleep.
    • Yep, weekends, too. If you spend two days waking up at 10 instead of 7, when Monday rolls around you won't feel so well-rested with that super early wake-up call. Again -- this is just until this pattern is established. You'll get some wiggle room in a bit.
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    Nap smart. Alright, so going to bed at 11 and getting up at 7 might happen in a perfect world (or in that ol' philosophical vacuum), but your life is full of noise, friends, kids, and other things that are keeping you from having the schedule you'd like. So when you need a nap to hit that 8 hour mark, do so. But don't overdo it! You'll be up all night. You should get 15-30 minutes to feel well rested. Any more than that, and you could wake up during your REM (or rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when you're in your deepest sleep. If you wake at this time, you will feel very tired when you wake up and not want to get out of bed! So only get 15 minutes, 30 minutes at most!
    • Napping will be more beneficial to you that sleeping more when you finally do go to bed. Again, you want to keep to that schedule as much as possible. If you're running on empty, nap during the early hours of the day to catch up. Then, resume your schedule as normal.
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    Find your natural sleep schedule. On the off chance you have the power to do whatever the heck you want and could sleep till the cows came home if it so compelled you without incurring any consequences (really irritating the boss, for example), experiment with your body's natural sleep rhythms. Don't set the alarm for two weeks and go to bed when you get tired (but within a similar time frame every day). What times do you gravitate to? When does your body cue you for sleep and wakefulness?
    • Everyone will be a little bit different. After a week or two, you may find that you naturally awaken at 8 AM (or 9, or 10). If you have the ability to do so, keep your schedule as close to your natural one as possible. It's what's best for you!
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    Establish a pre-sleep routine. Another way to cue your body for sleep is to do activities every night that wind you down and get you in the sleep zone. Experiment with a few -- what's the most relaxing for you?
    • Try taking a warm bath. Use calming scents, not invigorating ones.
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    • Listen to calming music. This has the added benefit of drowning out the unwanted sounds of the city, too!
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    • Read by soft light. Light is a huge no-no before bed, but if you keep it soft (more about this in a bit), that's fair game. Reading can adequately send you into hibernation mode (with the right book, of course).
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    • Stretch. Loosening up your body feels good any time of day, but it especially feels good before bed. Take them slowly and only do what's comfortable for your level of flexibility.
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    • Do a simple hobby. A simple one, that is. Anything that involves you going on autopilot and sitting in a comfy chair probably qualifies.
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    Use your bed just for sleep. Working in bed messes with your brain -- is it for work or relaxation? Climbing in may just make you run through your list of all the things you have to do. Make sure to keep everything elsewhere. Your bed should just be for sleeping.
    • Make your bed comfy! Invest in some good pillows, a good comforter, and make sure it's big enough for you to toss and turn as you need to. If a dog or child is taking up your space, assert yourself! You need to spread out.[2]
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Method 2
Keeping Good Sleep Habits Throughout the Day

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    Avoid caffeine. You may think that that can of soda at dinnertime is sufficient time for the effects to wear off, but science says it's not. It can last in your system for up to twelve hours.[3] Heck, that means avoiding it at lunch! But at least science isn't taking away your morning cup of joe.
    • In case it wasn't implied clearly enough, having loads of sugar isn't great for your sleepiness either. Even if you avoid the soda, stay away from the overly sugary juices and caffeine free but not sugar free beverages, too.
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    Quit smoking. Not including the other obvious reasons you should quit smoking, nicotine can also interrupt your sleep schedule -- it's a stimulant. What's more, you may wake up in the middle of the night with a nicotine craving. That's no good for your sleep cycles, either.[3]
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    Get enough light in your day. Whether that means going for your lunch in the park or just throwing open all the curtains, make sure your brain gets stimulated by enough daylight. The sun is a natural cue to your brain that it's time to wake up. Need an excuse to walk the dog? There you go!
    • Remove your sunglasses in the morning for an instant, "WOAH, I'M AWAKE" feeling. The more your eyes can soak in, the better. And if you've got a case of the winter woes, think of investing in a light therapy box. It causes your body to release melatonin the same way the sun does.[3]
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    • That being said, you want a room that's dark at night. You may find investing in a good set of light-eliminating curtains blocks out that street light and cuts down on your falling-asleep time. Just make sure to throw 'em open in the morning!
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    Exercise. That doesn't mean you have to turn into an Olympic athlete -- just 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise (the heart-pounding kind) can help you sleep better.[3] Break it up into smaller chunks if that's better for your schedule; you'll still reap the benefits.
    • If possible, work out in the late afternoon, but before dinner. If you work out within 4 hours of going to bed, it could just rev you up.[4]
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    Keep dinner light. When you go to bed, you want to neither be hungry or stuffed -- either feeling can keep you awake. So if you tend to eat your dinner late, this is even more important. The alternative is going to bed later, but you don't want that either!
    • Rich, fatty foods are harder for the stomach to digest. The heavier the food, the more conscious of it you'll be, making it harder to fall asleep. And be wary of spicy foods -- heartburn is just as unpleasant at night as it is during the day[3]
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    Check your stress at the door. Spending the day frustrated, nervous, irritated or just plain stressed will seep into your night routine. If you have troubles sleeping at night, could this be a cause? What could you do to reduce it?
    • Manage your stress by taking time to do yoga, a relaxing hobby, or just five minutes to yourself each day to focus on your breathing. If it's a bigger issue, consider seeking professional help.
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    Know when to see a doctor. There are a variety of problems that are sleep-related, and they're not always crystal clear. If you set up a routine and follow this page, but still can't sleep, you may be best in a doctor's hands.
    • If you have headaches in the morning or are constantly sleepy, that's a red flag. If you act out your dreams or get tingling sensations, those are signs, too. Anything out of the normal that disrupts your ability to sleep how you'd like may be grounds for asking a professional. Don't take yourself lightly -- your health is of the utmost importance.
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Method 3
Preparing Before Bed

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    Stay away from lit electronics. The more time you spend in front of the TV, your iPad, or your phone, the more your mind will be thinking, "Wait, is it still daytime?!" Two or three hours before bed, disconnect. Your body needs to slip into nighttime mode, and these things prevent it.
    • When you go to read before bed, don't use a backlit product. Your bedside lamp should be fine, but that electronic glow won't do you any favors.[3]
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    Cut out the noise. If you live in the city, this may be particularly hard to do. If possible, invest in a white noise machine (or a fan that has a white noise setting), to drown out the stimuli. This works on kids and dogs, too!
    • The poor man's white noise machine is called a radio tuned to a non-existent station. Keep the volume on low and it should be adequately monotonous for you to grow weary and start dreaming. [3]
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    Don't drink alcohol before bed. Or too much of anything else, for that matter! Though alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel sleepy, it can wake you up in the middle of the night. Especially if you have to pee![2]
    • Research says it disrupts slow-wave sleep. It can cause sleep fragmentation and actually lead to nightmares. Explains all those college episodes, huh?[5]
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    Adjust the thermostat. Unfortunately, no one really agrees on an ideal sleep temperature because there are just too many variables -- the bedding, the sleep clothes, the individual person. However, they do agree that the room should be slightly cool. So whatever that means to you, turn down the thermostat to that. If you're cold, bundle up in the blankets!
    • Generally speaking, you'll be able to sleep best somewhere between 54 and 75°F (12 - 24°C). It all depends on your specific sleeping circumstance.[6]
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    Eat dinner earlier. Eating just before bed can cause a number of issues. Any discomfort, however slight, will decrease your chances of a good night's sleep. The sugar rush can also wake you up! (It's not great for your waistline, either.)
    • Alright, so you're a pretty big late night snack fan? Then keep it to carbohydrates and tryptophan. That means a small turkey sandwich or some low-sugar cereal or granola. Nothing too heavy![3]
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    If you wake up during the night, don't fight it. As much as this article advocates setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it, if you do find yourself waking up at 3 AM and unable to sleep for at least 15 minutes, get up. Do something simple and relaxing and then try again. Your body may just need a small push in the right direction.
    • Agonizing over falling asleep won't help things. Clearing your mind is imperative to falling asleep, and adding worry about sleep on top of the day's trials is not the way to go. You'll get there eventually.


  • Try to imagine what you would like to dream of, basically daydream, then you will slowly drift off into that "dream" and you will be asleep!
  • Don't get distracted by wandering thoughts that motivate you to open your laptop and read this at midnight! Try to relax and enjoy being in bed!
  • Keep a notebook by your bed. If thoughts are racing through your head at night, grab it and write them down.
  • Read a book before bed because it makes your eyes heavy which helps you fall asleep.
  • try not to think about scary things, watch horror movies or keep discussing about major problems before going to bed because it'll either keep you awake or give you nightmares.
  • If you are scared of the dark be like me,I put on my TV turn the other way and just like fall asleep.


  • Sleeping pills are highly addictive. Seek other measures before you use them.
  • If a chronic sleeping problem persists, you may have a sleeping disorder. Let your doctor know about your symptoms.

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