6 Solid Tricks to Help You Get the Sleep You Need

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Sometimes getting a good night's sleep is like staying away from the birthday cake in the conference room: Easier said than done. You know that sleep makes you feel better, but did you know it also has a host of other benefits? Getting a solid eight hours of sleep is integral to living longer; improving your memory, attention span and creativity; cutting down on inflammation; performing better, both at work and at play; helping you maintain a healthy weight; and lowering instances of stress and depression.   
"Getting seven to nine hours of solid, deep sleep each night on a regular basis is just one of the many keys to good health and vitality,” says leading sleep expert, Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, a board-certified internist and nationally known expert in the fields of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sleep and pain. 
There are many ways to set yourself up for sleep success. If you've worked out a routine for yourself in the past that has stopped working or you and sleep have just fallen out of favor, try one, all or a combination of these tips to get some quality shut-eye tonight. 

1. Exercise. In a study of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18 to 85, those who exercised for 150 minutes every week at a moderate to heavy level showed a 65 percent improvement in their quality of sleep when compared to those who didn't get as much exercise.
Sneaking in that 20 minutes—or more—of exercise a day isn't as difficult as you might think. You can split up your activities throughout the day, workout in the morning, at lunch, after work or a number of other fun ways.
2. Make your bed. A survey of U.S. adults found that those that made their bed every day or almost every day were 19 percent more likely to report getting a solid night's sleep most days.
Not only did a well-made bed help induce slumber, but the survey participants also reported that having a comfortable mattress and pillows also affected their sleep ratings. If you're uncomfortable in your bed—make some changes. Get new sheets, a new mattress or new pillows and soon you'll be off to dreamland.
3. Paint your walls. While red might be your favorite color, it might not be inductive to a good night's sleep. Paint your walls a tranquil color—one that is calming to you and makes you feel relaxed. When painting your walls, choose a matte finish over a high-gloss one to tone your room color down even more.
4. Avoid alcohol. While it seems counterintuitive as a couple of drinks might make you want to close your eyes and coast off to sleeping bliss, using alcohol as a sleep aid doesn't work long-term.
Although too many drinks can put you out quickly, the kind of sleep you will get isn't restful. Your dream cycles will be disrupted and you'll wake more often once all the alcohol has been metabolized, if you don't wake up sooner from snoring, sweating, nightmares, nausea or hitting the bathroom more frequently.
If you require a sleep aid, try melatonin or see a doctor to see if any other medication is right for you.   
5. Put down the coffee. Four to six hours before bed anyway. The same goes for caffeinated tea, other caffeinated beverages, chocolate and some over-the-counter medications. Not only is caffeine a stimulant, but it can build up throughout the day and stay in your system for up to 12 hours, so even one innocent cup after dinner could be enough to keep you pacing the floors instead of counting sheep.
6. Leave technology at the door. Or take that a step further and leave everything off for up to two hours before bedtime to let your body's natural melatonin production work its course.
"Avoid bringing technology into the bedroom. The blue light emitted from our TVs, computers tablets and smartphones inhibits the production of melatonin, which we need to fall asleep and stay asleep," says Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute.
What other tips and tricks have you used to get a good night's sleep?  

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Good advice - thank you. Report
Good tips. Report
Thank you! Report
No reading material, music, tv, computers, et cetera allowed in my bedroom. I've teained my brain to associate the bedroom with sleep and only sleep. Well, 1 exception... Report
I have dark/light blocking curtains in my room.....and I sleep with my fan on. I need the white noise to get me to sleep and it keeps my room at a comfortable temperature! Report
I have dark/light blocking curtains in my room.....and I sleep with my fan on. I need the white noise to get me to sleep and it keeps my room at a comfortable temperature! Report
This is one of the best SLEEP articles I've read, and I've read a lot of them! Thank you! I will definitely be using some of these suggestions! Report
I rely on my CPAP machine, and I listen to soothing music or an audio book. The music or book needs to be something I'm completely familiar with, so that's its not too interesting, and I don't try to stay awake. My book tonight will likely be a Jane Austen, that I have listened to at least 300+ times before. Report
Many of my friends use the term "Amish hour" to describe turning off technology and having a space where you're technology free just before bedtime. Report
I put some relaxing, calm music on an hour or two before bed--music soothes the savage beast--no? Report
You could try Chamomile tea before bed. If sleep is difficult you can buy melatonin in the vitamin section of any store & take only when needed. It is natural & not addictive. It is also cheap & there are some time released versions where 1/2 the medication works immediately & the other 1/2 of the medication kicks in 4 hours later. Report
Exercise has improved my quality of sleep. Report
I try to read before bed. It quiets my brain and helps me sleep better. Walking outside 4-5 times a week also helps keep me asleep. Report
I try to have a routine, and go to bed at the same time. I avoid any food with sugar before bed. I read a book (not on a Kindle but a real book) it helps me to relax. If I have a worry that tries to keep me awake. I meditate by concentrating on my breathing and a steady noise in the room like the AC or a fan. It works to get me back to sleep also. Report
I suffer from insomnia A LOT....My psychiatrist at first told me to try Melatonin and I did for a while but that gave me very awful nightmares then she gave me a prescription for a sleeping pill that I would actually sleep for at least 7 hours but I could only take that during the day and sleep my sofa. I usually go to bed with the light on (for creepy reasons that I won't discuss here) and sleep for maybe 3 hours and then I'm up for 5:30 with the 16 yr old to go to school and then go to work. So I highly doubt any of the tricks listed will help me. Maybe I should rent a hotel for a few nights. Report
I have a hard time putting my phone down before bed. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I am glued to my phone and I usually play a couple of solitaire games and some sudoku before sleep. Problem is, that often turns into playing the games, then browsing Pinterest, looking at Facebook and even Zillow. Nights like tonight, I haven't slept at all and it's just an hour until time to get read for work. Needless to say, I need to start forcing myself to shut off the phone and see if it helps my mind shut off, too. Report
I sleep really well. I put my head on the pillow and I fall asleep. Report
Accidentally, I found the secret of getting more and better sleep for me. I was having trouble with my gall bladder and after surgery the pain was still there. I resorted to eating less solid food in the evening. Eventually, I tried Soy protein with Almond Breeze as a replacement for solid food. I realized that I didn't have enough hormones in my body after having a complete hysterectomy and thought I might be missing something here. I now sleep like the dead. I only take it every other evening because I have dairy allergies and there is whey in the protein shake. It does act as a diuretic, so you will be getting up during the night to relieve yourself; but I immediately go back to sleep afterwards. Make sure this is right for you before you try it for any length of time. Always check with your doctor.
I have tried everything. I don't drink alcohol, I work out or walk every day. I don't eat a big meal at night, I have calming walls, I only drink weak coffee, about 4 - 6 oz., around 7:00 AM, because of some heart problems. Other than my alarm clock and a TV, I have no other electronics in the bedroom. I do get up, most nights, about twice to use the Bathroom. My Fitbit tells me how frequently I am awake or restless. The other night, it showed being awake 9 times and restless19 times. I have tried Melatonin twice. After taking it, I fall asleep within 20 min., sleep one hour and then I stay awake the rest of the night. My GP asked me not to use it. The sleep aid he prescribed was even worse. I didn't fall asleep until about 3:00 AM and was wide awake after 1 hour. The only thing I do, that is not recommended, watch TV for about 30 minutes before turning the light out. I tried not to, several times, but I seem to need to relax for those 30 minutes before going to sleep, otherwise, I just keep on looking at the alarm clock. If I work out longer, and/or play a round of golf during which I walk, I am usually exhausted enough to find some sleep. Report
After following the majority of these, I still only average about 3 hours of sleep a night. I'm beginning to watch what I eat and see if I don't have a high sensitivity to anything that might keep me awake. I trust it's just a faze and will resolve itself soon. Report
I need to find tips for night shift workers. Report
A white noise machine sure helps me...so does leaving the stress of NOT sleeping behind. I learn my cycles and rhythms, and roll with them. Some of us are simply hard wired differently, so in spite of everything...sleep consistently eludes us. Here's to sweet dreams... Report
I have 4 dogs and although they are put out around 9 or 10 pm, they still sometimes wake me during the night to go out! My sleep is broken often. I recently purchased a fitbit flex which monitors my sleep and the report is awful. I will put some of these suggestions to work and see how it goes! Report
Stay hydrated but not too much. Report
Keep the room cool! Report
I need to try more of these. We bought a new mattress and pillows bout 6 months ago, no phone bout 2 hours till bedtime and no tv 30 mins out. I take a warm shower each night and turn the temps down, so I can snuggle up in the covers. Rarely drink during the week and no coffee after 7. But I still have lots of break in sleep every night. Going to the bathroom, crazy dreams, hot then cold. My husband wakes 1 hour before me and leaves 30 mins before my alarm goes off. I can't get any sleep for that hour, even though he's not in the room. It's miserable. Report
Very interesting article. I am going to try these suggestions. I am a couch potato, keep my tv on all night, drink water and sometimes have a mixed drink late at night. I am up and down constantly. My energy level is very low. I am going to keep a diary and chart my progress. Report