if you’re reading this right now, you might be desperate for some tips to help you sleep better at night.
Maybe you or someone you love struggles with getting to sleep at night. Anxiety, stress, insomnia, chronic pain… there are many reasons we have a hard time getting good rest. And if you’re someone who struggles, I want to offer you some simple tips to help you sleep better at night!
Maybe, (like me!) you are a self-proclaimed night owl who loves staying up late to read or work on a creative project.
Or maybe the evening hours are the only time you have to spend time with your partner or get some alone time, which pushes your bedtime back later.
Perhaps you regularly get home late from your child’s soccer practice, or you struggle with getting your children to sleep, or you need to spend time prepping for the next morning.
It could be that you’ve simply always had a tough time getting to sleep.
Anxiety, important decisions, everyday worries, and the busyness of life can make it a struggle to get to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
I still sometimes struggle with getting to sleep and enjoying a solid night of rest. But I have found some simple practices that help significantly. And when I do these things consistently, I almost always sleep better at night.
Here are some tips to help you sleep better at night:
1. Turn off all screens an hour before bed
This is tough, I know!
We tell ourselves we’re just going to check “one more email” or scroll through social media for “10 more minutes” but the next thing we know, an hour has gone by and we’re no closer to sleep than when we started scrolling.
This can be a really tough habit to break, but it is so worth it!
Set an alarm, tell your partner to hold you accountable, or use an app to help you stick with this commitment to turn off ALL screens an hour before you want to be in bed.
2. Keep Your Phone out of arms reach
As soon as you’ve turned off all screens, find a designated spot for your phone to “sleep” at night.
A charging station in the kitchen or living room are great spots to park your phone. This helps to resist the temptation to “check just one more thing!”
If you feel like you need to keep your phone in your room because you use its alarm to wake you up in the morning, make sure your phone is stored across the room. Don’t place it on your nightstand within arms reach.
Make sure it’s inconvenient for you to access it throughout the night!
Set yourself up for success and keep your phone out of arms reach.
3. Play Calming Background Music
Once your screens are off and your phone is put away, turn on some calming background music. Have it playing softly throughout the house or insert your earbuds (if your family members don’t share your taste!) Choose something that makes you feel grounded and peaceful.
Songs with lyrics, instrumental music, or even simple sounds like waves crashing, a rushing river, or crickets chirping can be really soothing.
Set the volume fairly low and enjoy these calming sounds in the background.
4. turn the lights down and Light a candle
With your music playing, dim the lights or turn some of them off. Then, light a candle and find a comfortable spot to sit.
Spend a few moments noticing the way the flame flickers as you settle in and get cozy.
5. Brain Dump
Grab a journal or piece of scratch paper and do a good ol’ brain dump
If you’re not familiar with a brain dump, this is where you simply write down EVERYTHING you have on your mind. All of the thoughts swirling around, appointments you need to go to, the calls you need to make, errands you need to run, and other worries and concerns.
Write it all down! Get it all out!
Don’t worry about making it neat and pretty. Don’t try and organize or plan.
The point is to simply get all of your thoughts out on paper. They’ll be safely stored on your paper where you can revisit them the following day when you can organize and plan.
Brain dump to help empty your mind before bed.
6. Write in a Gratitude Journal
Get a journal or pad of paper, write the date, then next to it write down one thing you are grateful for.
Just ONE thing!
Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t need to be profound or complicated. It can be as simple as “snuggling with my dog” or “my morning cup of coffee”. And it’s perfectly fine if you find that you’ve written the same exact thing down multiple times over the course of several weeks!
Simply identify ONE thing that you are grateful for and write it down in your gratitude journal.
An excellent way to prepare the body for sleep is to release any stored up tension. A great way to do this is through stretching.
I encourage you to spend a few minutes doing some mild, restorative stretching, foam rolling, or restorative yoga poses before bed.
A couple of my favorite restorative poses are Legs up the Wall and Child’s Pose.
Spend some time moving gently and stretching before bed to relax your body and mind.
After gentle stretching or restorative yoga, it’s an excellent time to meditate or have a quiet time.
Whether you meditate for a full 20 or so minutes, or simply practice having a quiet time for a minute or two, take a little time to get quiet.
Depending on your religious and spiritual beliefs, you may want to spend a few minutes in prayer or quiet contemplation. You may also want to gaze at the flickering flame of the candle you lit earlier. Or using a mediation app might be helpful for you.
I personally use, (and LOVE!) the Headspace app. It is a paid app, (with a FREE trial offer) but there is also Calm (also paid but offers a FREE trial) and Insight (FREE) that you may want to explore.
There are many other apps available but these are the three I am most familiar with.
Spend a few minutes meditating or practicing a quiet time.
9. Use an Eye Mask
Before getting into bed, be sure to blow out your candle and turn off the lights and music.
Then as you get into bed, consider wearing a comfortable eye mask.
Unless your bedroom is pitch black, any light from alarm clocks or outside lights can be disruptive to sensitive sleepers. Using an eye mask can shut out these distractions and create a more comfortable environment.
Use an eye mask and see if it helps you to block out any visual distractions.
10. Practice Deep Breathing
As you settle into bed and get comfortable, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Alternatively, you could place both hands on your belly. Begin to inhale and exhale, feeling the rise and fall of your chest and belly.
If your mind begins to drift, simply guide your attention back to your breathing.
Imagine your breath as a ship’s anchor. When you catch your mind wandering, (as it’s bound to do!) simply picture a boat drifting, (your mind) and then being gently pulled back by the weight of the anchor, (your breath).
Practicing this deep breathing can be a simple but powerful way to calm your body and mind.
If you have a child who struggles with getting to sleep, these suggestions can easily be incorporated into their bedtime routine too!
Here’s a recap of the ten tips:
- Turn Off all Screens an Hour Before Bed
- Keep Your Phone Out of Arms Reach
- Play Calming Background Music
- Turn the Lights Down and Light a Candle
- Brain Dump
- Write in a Gratitude Journal
- Meditate (Make sure to blow out your candle and turn off the lights and music after meditating.)
- Use an Eye Mask
- Practice Deep Breathing
I hope you enjoy restful sleep and sweet dreams with these tips to help you sleep better at night!
This is a great post, with great ideas. I have not tried the brain dump exercise, though I am an avid journaler, so I will try that. I’ve not had success using yoga to help me sleep, but I will try, try again. For sure, I would be LOST without my silky soft sleep mask. Something that seems like an indulgent, romantic thing to do, but for me is an ordinary piece of self care that really helps me relax before bed is: a hot bath by candle-light, followed by lotion and lavender, and my favorite skin care.
Sarah Takehara says
Elizabeth, I really need to try and incorporate more baths into my evening routine. Sometimes I have great intentions to take a bath but talk myself out of it with the busyness of life. It’s such a wonderful way to relax!
Karen Hoskins says
I don’t sleep. I have tried and do most that you mentioned but the gratitude journal…I will try that thank you!!!!