Kids & Family Health

How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

We all know sleep is important, however, we don’t often respect its impact on our overall health. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, and other serious health problems. Between the demands of a full-time job, raising a family, enjoying social activities, or pursuing hobbies, it’s important to give your body the rest it needs. Yet, 35% of American adults report getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night.

Getting longer and higher-quality sleep requires developing better sleep habits. The following tips will put you on a path to a good night of rest.

Stick to a Schedule

Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm, meaning we tend to wake up around sunrise and get tired after sunset. Studies have shown that people who do not follow consistent bedtimes report poorer sleep quality. Creating and following a set seven or eight-hour sleep pattern will help you fall asleep faster.

Use the Bed for Sleep or Sex

Sleep experts recommend staying out of bed unless the purpose is to go to sleep or have sex. Your brain will associate your bed with wakefulness instead of rest if you spend hours laying down and watching TV, using your phone, or reading. This can make it harder to fall asleep.

Shut off the Screens

The blue light emitted by phones, laptops, and TVs will trick your body into staying awake because this light is like the natural daylight we experience when awake. Our bodies stop producing sleeping hormones when we scroll through our phones late at night. Doctors recommend putting your gadgets away at least a half hour before bedtime. So, resist the temptation to check your phone one more time before going to sleep.

Avoid Late-Night Snacks

Eating shortly before going to bed will keep you up and may result in worse sleep quality. It’s best to stop eating at least two hours before you plan to turn in. Limit portion size if you do get hungry and avoid snacks with added sugar.

Exercise, But Not at Night

Exercise is one of the best ways to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep. This is because physical activity can tire the body out, leading to an increase of hormones that help cause sleepiness. One study showed that older adults who exercised regularly fell asleep 55% faster and slept about 40 minutes longer. However, exercising too close to bedtime can keep your brain stimulated and overly alert, so try for morning or midday activity.

Limit Caffeine Intake

If you drink coffee every morning, be sure to limit yourself to one or two cups. Caffeine stimulates the body’s nervous system for up to 12 hours, meaning a 3 p.m. coffee break can lead to a restless night. Try a healthy snack like nuts or fruit if you need a boost of energy in the afternoon.

Environment Matters

Sleep experts recommend 70 degrees as the optimal temperature for sleeping. It’s harder to sleep when you’re hot. You also want to keep your room dark and quiet.

Wash Your Sheets

Washing your sheets once per week has been proven to increase sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Over time, our beds collect dead skin, sweat, and other irritants, which can trigger our senses and keep us awake. Be sure to clean other bedding frequently as well.

Relax Your Mind

Stress makes it tougher to fall asleep. Making a to-do list of things to accomplish the next day is more productive than lying in bed and worrying about those same items. Organizing your thoughts will help your mind and body relax.


You won’t always fall straight to sleep. Occasionally it will take time to relax enough. This exercise will help with that:

  1. Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth for eight seconds.
  4. Continue to do this until you fall asleep.

Sleep on It

These suggestions can help put you on the path to a better night’s sleep. Remember, sleep deprivation can sometimes be a symptom of more serious medical conditions. Talk to a doctor if you experience continued insomnia without relief. Get started by calling (888) 499-9303 or click here to find an AltaMed location near you. 

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How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep