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Take Charge of Your Sleep Habits With These 6 Tips

Have you been sleeping poorly? If so, try these six strategies to get your sleep habits back on track.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Sleep, Mental Health, Nutrition and Supplements Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
3 min read
Sleepless woman awake in bed and staring at the clock
Getty Images/SB Arts Media

How did you sleep last night? The answer typically goes one of two ways -- well enough or terrible. On nights when you can't seem to fall asleep, you'll do just about anything to make it happen. Sometimes, counting sheep just doesn't cut it. 

A few bad nights doesn't mean you're doomed to poor sleep forever. These six tips will help you fall asleep more easily tonight and establish a healthy routine in the long run. Also, see which habits sabotage your sleep, why you should wake up with light and how the Scandinavian sleep method could save your relationship

1. Use breathing techniques 

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Don't worry if you don't fall asleep immediately when you slip between the sheets. For most people, it takes about 28.6 minutes on average to fall asleep. Breathing techniques are an effective way to relieve stress and relax. Some methods -- like 4-7-8 breathing -- are specifically designed to help you sleep better

There are also guided meditation apps designed to help you sleep. Popular apps like Calm and Headspace have guided meditations that can help you drift off to sleep. Calm has celebrity sleep stories that feature favorites like Harry Styles, Matthew McConaughey and Emma Thompson. 

2. Get out of bed

This one seems counterintuitive, but trust me. If you are awake after 20 minutes of trying to fall asleep, it's best to get out of bed. The last thing you want to do is associate your bed with scrolling through social media or watching TV. You want to save your bed for sleep.

Get out of bed and do something that relaxes you -- maybe that's light yoga or reading a book or listening to music. You want to avoid screens as much as possible. You shouldn't get back in bed until you are tired enough to fall asleep. 

3. Adjust the temperature of your bedroom

Research shows that the best temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. When your room is too warm, it can impact your body's natural thermoregulation process and keep you awake. 

If you are lying in bed and can't seem to fall asleep, check the temperature in your room. Then, don't jump right back in bed after you adjust the temperature. Let the room get cooler before you try to go back to sleep. 

4. Try a white noise machine

If you're easily distracted by sounds -- like road noises or a family member who is still awake, you may want to try a white noise machine. White noise machines help you sleep by replacing intrusive noises with consistent calming ones -- think babbling brooks and rain. You can also opt for true white noise, which encompasses all the frequencies the ear can hear. 

Man having a late night snack in front of an open refrigerator
Getty Images/domoyega

5. Be careful with the nighttime snack

When you can't fall asleep and get out of bed, it's easy to wander to the refrigerator to see what's inside. It's better to skip that late-night snack. If you need to eat, be careful what you choose. You want to avoid foods that are loaded with sugars or processed carbohydrates. 

Some foods contain melatonin and can help you sleep. These include milk, almonds and kiwis. As a rule, you want foods with slow-digesting proteins, like yogurt and peanut butter, or high-fiber carbs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

6. Consider a new mattress

Mattresses don't last forever. Typically, they have a lifespan of about seven to eight years. After that point, they stop giving you the comfort and support you need to get a good night's sleep. If you notice that you aren't getting quality sleep regularly, your mattress might be to blame. 

Key signs you need a new mattress

  • You have trouble falling asleep at night.
  • Your back hurts when you wake up. 
  • If your mattress is sagging or asymmetrical. Look for lumps of impressions of where you sleep. 
  • Your mattress is loud -- it groans and pops when you toss and turn. 

For more on sleep, check out our editor's favorite products, the seven habits that sabotage your sleep and the ultimate bedtime routine that you should follow.  

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.