For the longest time, I could sleep for any number of hours (5, 8, 10…it didn’t matter) and not feel rested when I woke up. I didn’t know there were any tips on better sleep that would actually help me; I didn’t know I needed to be considering how to get better sleep since I wasn’t experiencing insomnia.
Flash forward several years to when random spikes in my heart rate convinced me to go to the doctor. Something had to be wrong. I figured I was probably dying. I just needed to know how to get better sleep…and follow through.
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How to Get Better Sleep: 13 Ways
I’ve started shifting my lifestyle around in ways that protect my sleep cycle and ability to get better rest, but I’ve purchased a few products to help, too.
Don’t feel obligated to buy anything here; you can get better sleep without spending money. There were times when spending money made me lose sleep, and that’s not what we’re going for here.
That said, I’m a big fan of sharing all my secrets, so here we go with all the tips and tools:
I was skeptical of the Oura rings for so long. I thought they were gimmicky. Then I saw something online somewhere (it was back in November or December of last year, so I’m not sure what it was) that made me think it might help me get my life together, so I got myself one for Christmas.
I thought, if I did need to go see a cardiologist, I wanted to go in armed with as much data and knowledge as possible, and this thing was going to help me track it. Spoiler alert: I didn’t actually need to go to another doctor after I started looking at my habits and making changes.
I had to wait forever to get it because they were in the process of releasing the latest version, but holy life-changing jewelry, Batman.
It surprised me by how accurately it could gauge how I was feeling on a given day. If I felt run-down, my Readiness Score reflected it with a low grade.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Why do you need a ring to tell you how you feel, if you already know?” Lol It gives me the chance to look at my heart rate through the night, sleep quality, activity, etc. It made suggestions–like eating too late, which I’ll get to soon–as to why I might be suffering.
In some cases, it can tell you when to slow down before you start to feel the effects, so you don’t let yourself get too exhausted. You can learn to pace yourself or get a bit of an indication that you’re sick before you start to feel the symptoms, which means you can slow down instead of pushing too hard and making the illness worse.
You can add tags to each day if you think something helped or hindered your rest. You might log a glass of wine or a beer. Maybe you were stressed or too hot. Then you can look for patterns over time.
As of this writing, my Oura affiliate link will get you $50.00 off and 6 free months of the app.
I’ve used CBD oil for a long time and I’ve always said, “Oh, I don’t think it really does much for me as far as sleep is concerned because I don’t really have insomnia anyway.”
I got forgetful and just didn’t take it for a while and I did, in fact, notice a difference. Getting to sleep wasn’t difficult, but staying asleep was. I didn’t notice just how many times I could wake up through the night until I got a new clock to replace the alarm on my iPhone (more on that in a minute, too).
My favorite CBD oil ever is Soul CBD, and it has been for years. The orange flavor is still my favorite, and I’ve tried almost all of them. I gave it a full review when I was talking it up as the best CBD oil for anxiety (I still believe that’s true, too).
Eat Dinner Earlier
Dinner happens at the worst possible time. I’ve just picked the kiddo up from school, hubby’s just gotten home, and my brain is usually turning on to do its best work. Life should be feeling pretty awesome.
But nooooo, society expects me to stop everything and make yet another meal because people (at least around here) eat between 5:00 and 7:00. (I sound crabby but I really don’t mean to. Lol) I prefer to channel my inner European and eat later than that.
Turns out, channeling my inner European turns me into a zombie the next day because I get up by 7:00 AM and my heart rate doesn’t have time to drop overnight the way it should. My body’s simultaneously trying to recover from the day and digest a meal at the same time. It’s like how I spend my days–it has too many tabs open.
When I started getting better about prepping my meals ahead of time, my heart rate looked better on the graph and I felt more rested when I woke up. My Oura ring will still call me out for eating too late when I don’t recover well overnight. It knows.
My favorite small kitchen appliance for prepping meals is still my giant Instant Pot.
Be a Stickler About Your Bedtime
How to get better sleep 101: I dislike rules and schedules, but my body disagrees with me. I want to be a Mac–wild and creative–but my body wants to be a PC. (Do y’all remember those commercials?)
I’m still a Mac person through-and-through, but I’ve started drawing a line where my sleep is concerned. Unless I have a good reason, I will not be up past my bed time. Does my family want to hang out and watch TV on the weekends? Too bad, I’m going to bed. Catch me tomorrow afternoon. Lol
No Alcohol (or Have It Several Hours Before Bedtime)
I don’t drink a lot and I’m still working my way through the box I got from Bright Cellars probably a year or more ago. That said, I do like a glass of wine every now and then (only reds and rosés, though).
I used to drink them around 9:00 or 10:00, while watching a TV show. That would be right before bed. Now, if I’m going to have one, I try to drink it while I’m making dinner, with dinner, or right after I’m done.
I can tell a huge difference. Wine’s got a reputation for helping you sleep, but it helps you fall asleep (sometimes) and then you wake up a lot. That’s my issue anyway, when I have sleep trouble, so I don’t need anything extra to contribute to it.
I’m not saying you have to get up and get your workout in at 6:00 AM. Just keep it to the first half (maybe two-thirds?) of the day.
This isn’t always a problem because I’ve fallen into the camp of, “If the workout doesn’t happen early, it’s not gonna happen at all” lately. Every now and then, I’ll force myself to do a workout before the day’s end because I want to check it off the list. Those nights, I don’t sleep as well.
I tried to find an iPhone alarm sound I liked. They were all so jarring. That doesn’t really affect how to get better sleep, but waking up like that made me feel drained all day.
I even tried to add Pink’s “Get The Party Started” as some kind of early morning pep talk and that just creeped me out because I thought someone had gotten in and was standing, chuckling in the corner of my room as I slept. Also not a good way to wake up. Body, meet adrenaline. Works faster than coffee and leaves you exhausted for the rest of the day.
As part of my sleep-inducing spending spree, I purchased a Hatch clock, and boy was this baby hard to track down at the time I wanted it. What gives?
Anyway, you set a routine at night that helps you wind down with sounds and soft lighting (you can even subscribe to the app for more meditations, visualizations, etc., but I’m fine with the free version). The sounds can continue through the night so you have white noise that can help you sleep better.
Thirty minutes before you’re supposed to get up, it starts to light up, mimicking a sunrise. It’s slow and gradual, so it feels natural. You can set a sound like chirping birds as your “alarm” so you don’t go into full freakout mode when it’s time to get up.
All the chimes, beeps, etc., always made me feel like I needed to go back to bed for a recovery nap. This is so nice. I wake up feeling refreshed.
Magnesium Oil Spray
I’ve talked about magnesium oil spray in regards to anxiety, but not how to get better sleep. If I’m on the verge of a panic or anxiety attack, I can spray it on and calm myself down.
I can also spray it on at night (usually on the bottoms of my feet) for better rest.
This is the one I use:
There are other magnesium products on the market, like Calm, which a ton of people swear by. It just made me feel groggy, though. I usually woke up with a headache when I took it the night before.
Nightly Routine to Wind Down
As much as I don’t like schedules, I do love a good routine as long as I’m the one who designed it. Lol My nightly one consists of journaling in the Five-Minute Journal and a Hobonichi 5-year journal. I also set up the next morning’s coffee and clean the kitchen. I try to straighten up the living room so it’s less chaotic for me the next day, but it doesn’t always happen. All these things signal to my body that it’s almost time to rest.
Read Something Light
I read a book once I get in the bed. Usually, it’s fiction, though I’ll take a nonfiction option every now and then, as long as it’s lighthearted and I probably won’t feel like I have to take notes and read some paragraphs three times to get the message.
Reading helps me fall asleep fast. Sometimes I wish it didn’t, because I’ve found some books I’d love to keep reading for hours.
Keep Your Room Cool
I’m always cold, so I wasn’t too sure I wanted to lower the temperature in my room more than it was, but I actually love it now. I don’t always go quite as low as the 60 to 67 (ideally, 65) degrees the Sleep Foundation recommends, but I have noticed that even keeping it around 70 is better than anything higher than that.
This is one of the tips on better sleep I’ve heard often, but ignored almost as many times.
I got a weighted blanket one year for Christmas and decided to leave it in the living room because it tends to be cold in there in the winter. I promptly started a habit of napping on the couch. When I first got my weighted blanket, I couldn’t stay awake more than 15 minutes under that thing.
I don’t know which one I got, but this one looks good and it’s about the same weight:
Bedding You Love
Confession: I want to live in my bed now. Bring me my coffee, please. I will work from here.
This is a recent addition to my whole sleep setup and I am obsessed. I thought what we had before (that we’d probably had for like 12 years) was just fine, but I felt inspired to shake things up.
My husband and I have a hard time agreeing on sheets, but I’m pretty sure we could use nothing but these bamboo sheets forever and ever and be absolutely thrilled.
I do want to add a quick note about the color, though. I ordered white and they’re more of an off-white. They still look okay with the white duvet we got (and here’s the duvet insert we got to go with the cover, if you’re interested), but they’re not the pure white I had in mind.
What Doesn’t Work for Me
Of all the tips on better sleep I’ve read, there are a few that just don’t do it for me.
This, like the Calm powder I mentioned above, just doesn’t work for me, for whatever reason. I feel like I’m straining to sleep, if that makes sense. Just trying very, very hard to stay “under” even though my body wants to be awake.
I also tend to wake up with a headache any time I use anything with melatonin in it. So don’t be discouraged if melatonin isn’t how to get better sleep for you. Maybe some of the other options will work.
I mentioned this one above. I can fall asleep easily with or without it, but I can’t stay asleep if I had it and my Oura ring tells me I had a hard time recovering overnight if I drink too close to bedtime. It’s not lying; I can usually feel the effects the next two days, at least.
Some people swear by guided meditations to drift off to sleep, but they don’t work that well for me. Plus, my husband isn’t interested in meditating before bed and I don’t really want to force him to listen to them while he’s trying to read. The benefits just aren’t there for me and I’d rather use almost any of the other methods.
Learning How to Get Better Sleep Can Change Your Life
Let’s stop wearing the badge of exhausted, overworked, never getting any sleep because #momlife or #hustle. Learning what helps you get the best rest possible can make your days flow more smoothly, allow you to feel less anxious in your everyday life, connect with others better, and be more productive.
Blocking out a routine sleep schedule and sticking with it–protecting it–can make you feel healthier, more inspired, more creative, stronger, less brain-foggy, and might even reduce or completely eliminate a health-related ailment that’s been bugging you (but go get checked out anyway, just in case, okay?).