How to Sleep Comfortably

Three Parts:Creating a Comfortable Sleep EnvironmentRelaxing at BedtimePreventing Restless Sleep

Even if you're lying in bed for eight hours or more each night, low-quality sleep can leave you feeling tired, cranky, or achy. Try adjusting the environment around your bed as well as your evening activities, and you should notice a significant improvement. If your sleep is disrupted by heavy snoring, chronic insomnia, or severe anxiety, these methods can still help to a degree, but consulting a doctor may be necessary.

Part 1
Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

  1. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 1
    Keep the room cool but comfortable. Believe it or not, it is much easier to fall asleep in a cool environment than a toasty, well-heated room. Try to achieve a temperature in your bedroom between 60º and 67ºF (15.6–19.4ºC). Personal preference has an effect here too, but the ideal sleeping temperature for most people falls into this range. Try it and you may be surprised.
  2. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 2
    Reduce sound and light. If you are a light sleeper, wear ear plugs and eye covers to prevent stimuli from waking you up. If early morning sunlight wakes you up, hang blackout curtains to block it.
  3. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 3
    Consider white noise. If loud noises in the night are unavoidable, comforting background could help cover them up. Try running a whirring fan or playing quiet, calming instrumental music. If your room is dry, a humidifier can solve two issues at once.
  4. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 4
    Pick a sleeping position. This is especially important if you suffer from back or neck pain, but anyone can benefit from arranging themselves and their pillows in a comfortable position. Try one of these:
    • Sleep on your side, with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your pelvis and spine straight.
    • Sleep on your back only if your mattress provides comfortable support. Try a second pillow beneath your knees and/or under the hollow of your back for additional support.
    • Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, as it can cause breathing issues and neck pain. If this is the only way you can fall asleep, sleep on the edge of a tall pillow, so you can tilt your head slightly for air flow, but don't need to wrench your neck to do so.
  5. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 5
    Test different pillow arrangements. Some people sleep without a pillow, while others prefer one or two large, soft pillows. Go with the option that keeps your neck and shoulders relaxed throughout the night. If you feel tense when you wake up, and can't find a pillow that works for you, try rolling up a towel and placing it under your neck for direct support.
    • If you can't find a comfortable position for your arms, try holding a large pillow, rolled up towel, or stuffed animal.
  6. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 6
    Use heavy blankets in cool to normal temperature. A heavier blanket or cover can increase your sense of security while falling asleep. Depending on personal preference and current weather, you may prefer a light quilt, a warm, thick comforter, or even a weighted bean blanket.
  7. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 7
    Get comfortable in hot weather. Change your sleeping setup when the weather gets warmer, especially if you wake up sweaty or feeling trapped in the bedclothes. If you normally sleep naked under blankets, try sleeping in pajamas under just a sheet.
    • If you don't have air conditioner, wet cloths or paper towels and drape them over your face and arms.

Part 2
Relaxing at Bedtime

  1. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 8
    Use your bed only for bedtime. Work, games, and most other activities should be done at a table or desk instead of on the bed, and in another room whenever possible. Training yourself to associate the bed with sleep or calm bedtime activities can help trigger falling asleep more consistently.
  2. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 9
    Have a bedtime ritual. A way to wind down each night puts you in the right frame of mind for sleeping, especially if you repeat the same ritual every time. If lying awake in bed causes anxiety or fear, this is especially important. Try the following ideas:
    • Read a calm book.
    • Listen to a book on tape or a podcast, with your eyes closed. If this keeps you up, listen to nature sounds instead.
    • Eat a small snack if you tend to wake up hungry, such as a glass of milk, a banana, or a small bowl of low-sugar cereal.
  3. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 10
    Exercise earlier in the day. Exercising is a great idea, as long as you don't wake yourself up with a workout right before bed. Exhausting yourself to extreme fatigue will not produce restful sleep, but some form of physical activity is often a necessity to help you stick to a daily sleep schedule.
  4. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 11
    Finish the day with a light meal. As mentioned above, your body slows down as it starts to sleep, including your metabolism. If you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, your slowed metabolism could keep you uncomfortably full – or return to "active mode" and produce unwanted energy.

Part 3
Preventing Restless Sleep

  1. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 12
    Be careful about hot showers and exercise before bed. When your body transitions from active to resting, everything slows down, and temperature drops. Raising the temperature from a hot shower or a workout session will slow that process down, making it more difficult to sleep. If you need exercise to get tired, or a shower to get comfortable, start it earlier so you have at least thirty minutes to cool down before going to sleep.
  2. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 13
    Avoid most electronics. Your brain chemistry interprets blue light as early dawn, which makes your brain more active. Phones, game consoles, and computers are all sources of blue light. Games, work, puzzles, and other activities that involve mental effort may make it especially difficult to sleep.
    • If you decide to use your computer at night, install Flux to make your computer screen change to redder and pinker "sunset" colors at night.
  3. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 14
    Avoid stimulating vitamins, supplements, and foods. You probably know that caffeine and sugar keep you awake, including caffeine found in soda and chocolate. Other substances that disturb your sleep include B-vitamins, steroidal medication for asthma, beta-blockers, opiates, ginseng, and guarana.[1] If you take any of these as regular evening supplements, take them earlier in the day instead.
    • Do not change your medication schedule without consulting a doctor.
    • Drinking more water can help pass chemicals through your body faster, but this can be counterproductive if you end up waking up in the night to pee.
  4. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 15
    Avoid alcohol and cigarettes before bed. The rush from cigarettes or any tobacco source can keep you up or cause anxious, restless slumber. The alcohol advice may seem more unusual, since alcohol puts you to sleep. The rhythm of your sleep after alcohol, however, is significantly disrupted. Avoid alcohol in the two to three hours before bed, or you might wake up in the night, or wake up tired in the morning.[2]
  5. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 16
    Take sleep aids if necessary. If you are having trouble sticking to a sleep schedule or sleeping the whole night through, melatonin can safely be used to encourage this behavior. For severe insomnia, doctor-prescribed sleep medication may be required, but regular use can build up tolerance and even reliance on the drug. Follow your doctor's instructions and skip the drug when possible to mitigate this situation.
  6. Image titled Sleep Comfortably Step 17
    Talk to a doctor about sleep apnea. This common condition, characterized by snoring, cuts off air to your lungs while you sleep, causing restless sleep or frequent waking. You are more likely to be affected if you are overweight or have breathing problems. Your doctor may recommend a "sleep lab" where your sleep is monitored to find out more.


  • If you have chronic sleep problems, keep a daily sleep diary. Write what you ate before bed, your last three or four hours of activity, how you felt when you went to bed, and how you felt when you woke up. Compare your entries every few days to help you find patterns, such as activities that keep you awake, or foods that lead to restful sleep.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated fluids, these include hot chocolate, cola, tea and coffee.
  • If you have nightmares often, try eating a piece of cheese or a tablespoon of yoghurt before bed.


  • Keep running fans more than arm's length away from your bed, to avoid catching fingers or long hair in the blades.
  • Before leaving fans or other "white noise" sources on all night, read the safety label to find out if there is an associated fire hazard.

Article Info

Categories: Better Sleeping