Sleep

5 More Tips for a Great Night of Sleep

A few more ways to help you get better sleep tonight.

Posted Jul 01, 2020

This week I am talking about my go-to tips to help clients get to sleep faster, sleep better, and have more energy throughout the day—something we could all use right about now.

These tips will reveal the most effective ways for anyone to start sleeping better tonight naturally.

Here are five more of my favorite tips to share:

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine. You may think a bedtime routine is just helpful for kids; in fact, bedtime routines are important for regulating sleep cycles, getting quality sleep, and may help with common sleep disorders like insomnia. Set a time you want to go to bed each night and wake up each morning, and fill-in routines that will help you accomplish this goal. A few good options include journaling, reading a book, and spending some time with your spouse or kids before nodding off. Make the ritual yours, and try and stay within a half-hour each night of when you want to perform your habits. This will let your body acclimate to the schedule you’re trying to set—and helps your body wind down each night.

And if you need more help crafting your ideal bedtime routine, I’ve got you covered. Check out this full breakdown, which includes a number of sleep tips, when you have a moment.

2. Manage Anxiety. Tension and sleep go together like ketchup and ice cream. They just don’t mesh. More than 50% of adults with sleep problems also suffer from anxiety, according to Harvard University.

I know it’s easier said than done to simply relax after a long day. But finding a way to calm down will help you avoid laying in bed, unable to fall asleep. Meditation is one popular option I’ve always been in favor of, and taking a warm bath is another great stress reliever. (Ironically, warm baths also work to cool down the body by improving blood circulation, fostering better sleep in the process.)

And if you find your mind racing at night, try this trick I’ve written about counting down from 300 by threes. It should help distract your mind—and it’s so mundane that it often helps put you to sleep before you reach zero.

3. Adopt a Sleep-Savvy Diet. What you eat impacts your sleep. Luckily, your options aren’t limited—there are a number of foods that promote better sleep.

In particular, you’ll want to focus on protein-rich foods, like eggs, fish, broccoli, almonds, and chicken breast. Meals that are high in protein have been shown to help people fall asleep much faster, with an average of 17 minutes to fall asleep, compared to 29 minutes for those who didn’t have similar meals. You’ll also want to eat your meals at least three hours before going to bed, when you can.

Fiber is another sleep-booster. High-fiber diets have been connected to longer times spent in REM sleep, according to Columbia University. Foods that are high in fiber include avocados, pears, chickpeas, dark chocolate, and lentils. You’ll also want to target foods that are high in magnesium and potassium as well. 

4. Optimize Your Bed and Pillow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t see Tom Brady taking the field in flip-flops, so why would you go to sleep without the right equipment? In particular, keep your eye on your mattress and your pillow. A worn-out mattress can lead to back problems—and anyone who’s dealt with back pain knows that can harm not only sleep quality, but the ability to feel energized throughout your day. A mattress topper can be one of the fastest and easiest ways to fix an old or worn-out mattress.

But a new mattress can be pricey. That’s why I tend to argue pillows are more important than your mattress; it’s much cheaper to replace your pillow, usually falling somewhere in the $40 to $100 range. Aim for a pillow that’s supportive for neck and alignment.

5. Don’t Let Sleep Problems Linger. You may think your sleep problems are common, and therefore not serious. While we all suffer from a sleepless night from time to time, it’s important, if your sleep problems persist, to seek the advice of a sleep or medical professional.

That’s because waking up through the night, or even just never having energy, can be a sign of a sleep disorder, or even more serious health issue. For example, snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Though common, OSA should not be taken lightly. Sleep apnea has been linked to serious health problems. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.

I’m not trying to alarm you—it’s true that some sleepless nights can be harmless. But even if your sleep problems aren’t linked to a sleep disorder or serious health issues, a sleep deficit undoubtedly lowers your energy levels, productivity, and even mood. Trust your instincts—if it feels like something is wrong, something probably is wrong. There are dozens of common sleep disorders out there, many of which can be easily treated. Don’t let one phone call and one appointment stand in the way of you getting quality sleep.

Otherwise, follow these sleep commandments, and you’ll give yourself a rock-solid foundation for building upon. Thanks as always for reading along.

Sleep well, be well,

Dr. Michael Breus