Sleep Soundly: How to Get Better Sleep and Why it’s Important


There’s no doubt about it – getting enough quality sleep each night is essential to how your body restores itself, the way you feel the next day, and how your brain functions. While you’re stealing some ‘Zzzs,’ your body is hard at work healing damaged cells, boosting your immune system, recharging your cardiovascular system, and recovering from the day.

According to the CDC, one in three adults do not receive enough sleep. How much (or how little) sleep you get can adversely affect your quality of life and may lead to health problems like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or mental distress.

Just as you get ready in the morning for the day, it’s important to get ready in the evening for the next seven to eight hours. Here are some ways to prepare your body for rest, ensuring you get enough sleep to start the next day mentally and physically rejuvenated.

Unplug From Electronics

A poll by the National Sleep Foundation discovered 95 percent of people use some sort of electronic device – computer, video game, smart phone – a few nights a week an hour before bed. ‘Blue’ light from these devices can interrupt your daily rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep or, if you wake up, go back to sleep. Good news though; with most smart phones, you can turn off ‘blue’ light and balance out the phone’s colors with warmer hues to reduce eye strain at night.

To avoid being disrupted by your devices, put them aside at least one hour before bed. Instead, try something that does not plug in, such as reading a book, writing in a journal, taking a bath, or meditating. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, try to preset it earlier in the day or consider finding an alternative. Some clocks allow you to set the tone to wake up to nature sounds or slowly light up similar to the sun rising.

Turn Your Room Into a Sleep Sanctuary

Creating a calming, inviting space will help you fall asleep faster and often help you stay asleep. To start, make sure the room is dark by using blinds or curtains. Artificial light can negatively affect and interfere with your sleep because it suppresses melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. Blackout curtains go a step further by removing all traces of light. If blackout curtains are not an option, try wearing a sleep mask. They are affordable, comfortable, and some come scented with lavender.

Speaking of, lavender has a soothing, calming effect and has been shown to lower both blood pressure and heart rate. Use an electric oil diffuser to help you relax and fill your room with the scent of lavender. If you don’t have an essential oil diffuser, you can make your own lavender spray to use on pillows and sheets. Combine 1 oz. (2 tbsp.) of witch hazel, 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 3 oz. (6 tbsp.) of water, into a small spray bottle. Shake well before using on linens, clothing, or towels.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Some people think having a glass of wine will help them fall asleep, but drinking alcohol before bed can actually inhibit your ability to stay asleep. If you want deep, continuous sleep it’s best to avoid alcohol a couple of hours before bed.

Caffeine should also be avoided before bed. Because caffeine enters the blood stream through your stomach, it can be felt as soon as 15 minutes after consuming but stays in your system for several hours. It takes about six hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated. While it’s OK to sip coffee during the first half of your day, stay clear for the second half so you can receive the best sleep possible.

Focus Your Mind

Meditation can help you focus your mindHave you ever gotten into bed and started thinking about one thing and then began thinking about another and another? Racing thoughts and anxiety can risk your chance for rest. Before you get into bed, preferably while you’re getting ready for bed, make a commitment to focus on one thing. When your mind begins to stray, catch yourself and gently bring your mind back into focus.

One way to help you control your thoughts is with mindfulness meditation. Start by focusing on your breathing and bring your thoughts into the present without concerns of the past or future.

Mindful Music

While some types of noise can be distracting, others can actually help facilitate relaxation and sleep. White noise can be helpful for problem sleepers or people who live in noisy environments (such as cities or near a busy street) because it can mask sudden sounds like a passing vehicle, a door slamming, or a dog barking.

Most people associate white noise with nature sounds, such as the sound of crashing waves or the steady rhythm of a rainstorm. But what exactly is white noise? White noise is an equal amount of sound at each frequency that you can hear. It’s called white noise because it’s similar to white light, which is a mix of all visible wavelengths of light.

If White Noise is not your thing, you may find that ambient music or 432 Hz can help you drift off to sleep. 432 Hz is known as “Verdi Tuning” and some claim it is more in sync with natural harmonics, making you feel relaxed and calm.

To learn more about your sleep habits or discover how to be an early riser, visit the National Sleep Foundation.