10 Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Our normal sleeping patterns are sometimes interrupted by family responsibilities, pressure at work, illness, or financial stress. It's not always possible to control these factors, but with good sleeping habits, you can maximize the hours of having good, untroubled sleep.

Improve your sleep regimen with these tips:

Tips for Better Sleep

1. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even during weekends. Consistency rewires the body's internal clock and promotes better sleeping.

2. Eating Habits

Have a light dinner void of meat, dairy, alcohol, processed food, and sugar. Try to then fast (void of food and beverages) for at least two hours before bedtime. Your body will have time to start digesting your meal and not feel heavy at bedtime. You will awaken in the morning hungry and hence, able to eat a larger breakfast and lunch. Consuming most of your day's food during the day will allow your body to receive the energy it needs when your body needs it the most. You will then feel more relaxed and able to rest more peacefully at night.

3. Bedtime Routine

Get into a bedtime routine, doing the same thing every night. This will tell your body it’s time to wind down. You can either have a lukewarm bath or shower, listen to music, or read a light-hearted book to help you relax your mind and body. Avoid electronic devices such as watching television or reading a book on a Kindle or phone at night. The light emitted from electronic devices prevents Melatonin production and hence, disrupt our sleep cycle. Each half hour before 12 a.m. that you go to sleep is equal to 1 hour of quality sleep gained. Try to go to sleep by 10 p.m. whenever possible.

4. Get Comfy

Make your bedroom a place of comfort and relaxation. Let it be a place for only sleep and sex. Keep your bedroom’s temperature cool, well-ventilated, and quiet. Try using an air purifier and/or opening up the windows to help better ventilate your room. Wear earplugs or turn on a white noise machine to keep the room quiet. Dark curtains or blinds can help keep light out. Alternatively, wear an eye mask when you go to sleep. Choose a comfortable bed and bedding. If you have pets in the house, make sure they don’t disturb you during the night.

5. Limit Your Daytime Naps

Long daytime naps can interfere with your sleep cycle. Keep naps to 12 to 20 minutes maximum and taken no later than 5 pm.

6. Physical Activity

Regular physical activity helps you fall asleep quicker and helps you sleep deeper. Ideally exercise during the day since physical activity stimulates the body. At night it hurts our sleep cycle since we are full of energy it is harder to fall asleep. Finish your exercise at least three hours before bedtime.

7. Stress Management

If your mind is busy thinking too much, you will have difficulty falling asleep. Try to relax and destress before you go to bed. Some stress management tips include deep breathing techniques, taking a break or holiday when you need it, going for a massage, or laughing long and hard. If you need more tips on how to manage stress, download our ebook.

8. Daylight Exposure

Make sure you get enough exposure to sunlight every day, especially morning sun. Open the curtains as soon as you’re up, drink your morning beverage outside, go out for breaks during the day, and exercise outside.

9. Nicotine, Caffeine, and Alcohol

These substances can disrupt your sleep cycle if you don’t manage them properly. Try to avoid them completely, but if not possible, keep to these tips. Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants which keep you awake. Try to drink only 1 cup of your caffeinated beverage and latest by noon. Smoke your last cigarette by 5 p.m. Although alcohol helps us fall asleep quickly, it disrupts your sleep cycle later at night and weakens our quality of sleep. We can still have restless sleep and awaken not feeling rested in the morning. Limit your alcohol to one glass consumed at least three hours before bedtime.

Contact Dr. Bhandari if you need help to quit smoking. It’s not always easy, but with proper support it is achievable.

10. Supplements

Chamomile and lemon balm are both excellent relaxants and increase your mental calmness. They can both be taken as a tea or in supplement form. Melatonin – a natural hormone made by your pineal gland – helps to control your sleep cycle. If your melatonin levels are low, melatonin supplements can help you sleep better when consumed two hours before bedtime.

Recommended Sleeping Hours

Here are some guidelines to help you understand how much sleep you and your family members need:


Stick to the recommended habits to improve your sleep cycle. You may not see a difference immediately, but over time your sleep cycle will improve. There are certain sleep disorders for which these habits may not help, such as apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. If you find that your sleep cycle doesn’t improve, make sure to visit your doctor.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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