Getting enough high-quality sleep is extremely important for your health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Poor sleep can negatively impact your physical health, mental health, productivity, cognitive function and quality of life.
The good news is that there are many effective ways to improve your sleep quality naturally. Here are 10 science-based tips for how to improve your sleep quality and get the restful sleep your body needs:
1. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is key for optimizing your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.
Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
It helps promote better sleep at night and more alertness during the day.
2. Create a Restful Sleep Environment
Make sure your bedroom environment is setting you up for sleep success. Your bedroom should be cool, free of light and noise, and gadget-free.
Some specific tips for optimizing your sleep environment:
- Keep it dark – Ensure no external light enters the room with blackout curtains. Also avoid screens before bed, as the blue light can disrupt melatonin production.
- Reduce noise – Consider a white noise machine or ear plugs if necessary. Keep the room well ventilated and quiet.
- Set temperature – Keep bedroom around 65–70°F (18–21°C) which is optimal room temp for sleep.
- Comfortable bedding – Invest in a good mattress, pillows and sheets to maximize comfort.
- Décor – Keep room tidy and minimalist. Remove work materials and electronics to prevent distraction.
Prioritize comfort and minimal stimulation in your sleep space. This sends strong signals to your brain that it’s time for rest.
3. Develop a Soothing Pre-Bed Routine
Having a consistent relaxing bedtime routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
This could involve taking a warm bath or shower, reading fiction, light stretches, meditation or listening to soothing music.
Dim the lights in your home during your nightly routine to help boost melatonin production.
Your custom routine depends on your preferences, but the key is keeping it the same each night to cue your body that sleep time is near.
4. Reduce Blue Light Exposure at Night
Exposure to blue light from smartphones, computers, TVs and other screens before bed can seriously impact sleep quality.
Blue light suppresses melatonin production and shifts your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Here are some tips to reduce blue light exposure in the evening:
- Avoid screens 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Install blue light filter apps on devices
- Dim brightness settings on all screens
- Wear blue light blocking glasses
Reading a printed book or spending time away from screens before bed can help increase melatonin and improve sleep quality.
5. Limit Caffeine Intake, Especially Later in the Day
Caffeine is a stimulant that can significantly disrupt sleep when consumed in excess or too late in the day.
Caffeine takes about 6 hours for the body to metabolize half the amount consumed. So a cup of coffee at 2 p.m. could impact your ability to fall asleep at 10 p.m.
To improve sleep quality:
- Limit total intake – Consuming no more than 400mg caffeine daily is recommended
- Stop intake earlier – Avoid all caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol – Don’t drink caffeine with alcohol, as it counteracts alcohol’s sedative effects
Stick to just 1-2 caffeinated drinks before 2 p.m. to avoid sleep disruption.
6. Get Regular Exercise, But Not Before Bed
Regular exercise is great for improving sleep quality. However, the timing matters.
Exercising vigorously too close to bedtime raises core body temperature, which can make it harder to fall asleep.
Aim to exercise consistently throughout the week, but avoid strenuous workouts within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
Light stretches or yoga before bed can help prime your body for sleep without overexertion.
7. Be Mindful of Naps
Napping can be beneficial when done in moderation, but daytime napping that’s too long or late can negatively affect nighttime sleep.
Keep naps short, ideally 10-30 minutes long before 3 p.m. This minimizes the risk of naps interfering with your sleep drive and circadian rhythm.
Also try to limit naps to 2-3 times per week max if dealing with insomnia issues.
8. Improve Sleep Hygiene
Maintaining good “sleep hygiene” refers to habits that optimize sleep health. Here are some key sleep hygiene tips:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule 7 days a week
- Make your bedroom a clean, quiet & relaxing sleep haven
- Block out light and noise that could disrupt sleep
- Avoid large meals before bedtime
- Cut off fluid intake 1-2 hours before bed to reduce bathroom trips
- Establish a consistent pre-bed routine and wind-down period
- Limit stimulating activity and light exposure before bed
Making sleep a priority by optimizing your daily habits and bedroom environment can significantly improve sleep health.
9. Address Underlying Physical or Mental Health Issues
Many medical problems can interfere with sleep quality, including:
- Chronic pain
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
Mental health conditions like anxiety, PTSD and depression can also severely impact sleep.
Speaking to your doctor can help identify and properly treat any underlying condition contributing to your sleep struggles. This may greatly improve sleep quality.
10. Consider Supplements
Certain supplements may help improve sleep quality, especially when used together with good sleep hygiene habits.
Some supplements with research supporting their use for sleep include:
- Melatonin – Helps regulate sleep-wake cycle. Take 0.5–5 mg before bed.
- Magnesium – Supports relaxation and sleep. Take up to 350 mg daily.
- Glycine – Amino acid that may improve sleep quality. Take 1–3 grams before bed.
Always consult your doctor before trying supplements to improve sleep.
Additionally, avoid relying on sleep medication long-term whenever possible, as they often lose effectiveness and can cause dependence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions and answers about improving sleep quality:
Q1: How many hours of sleep do adults need for optimal health?
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health, productivity and mental wellbeing. However, individual needs vary slightly.
Q2: What causes poor sleep quality?
Common causes include stress, underlying health conditions, medication side effects, sleep disorders, environmental factors like noise/light, inconsistent sleep routine, and electronics use before bed.
Q3: What are signs that someone is sleep deprived?
Signs of sleep deprivation include daytime fatigue, irritability, brain fog, poor concentration, increased errors, anxiety, depression, weakened immunity, and increased cravings.
Q4: Should I exercise in the morning or night for better sleep?
Generally, consistent exercise improves sleep regardless of timing. But vigorous exercise may cause temporary arousal, so exercise in the morning or afternoon is best for good sleep at night.
Q5: Can certain foods help you sleep better?
Some foods may enhance sleep due to compounds like tryptophan, magnesium, calcium. Tart cherry juice, chamomile tea, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and kiwi may help sleep.