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How to Sleep Better: 10 Proven Strategies (Including Free Guide) - By Tad Lusk, LPC

How to Sleep Better: 10 Proven Strategies (Including Free Guide) - By Tad Lusk, LPC

If you’ve ever struggled with sleep or wondered how to sleep better, this is the blog for you.

Whether it’s not being able to fall asleep, waking up during the night, tossing and turning, or not being able to turn off your mind, I’m going to teach you 10 proven strategies for how to sleep better, starting tonight.

Good sleep is a crucial foundation for your health. The quality and amount of sleep you get directly impacts your brain and body functioning. This in turn can have a huge affect on how you feel and perform in your daily life.

Sleep and Your Mental Health

When it comes to mental health, depression, anxiety and sleep problems often go hand in hand.

When your mind is troubled, it’s very difficult to fall into the deep restful brainwave states required for quality sleep, and you don’t get the rest you need.

As a result, you feel even worse, exacerbating your depression or anxiety symptoms, and the effects become cumulative over time. This is why depression, anxiety and poor sleep can become such a vicious cycle.

Likewise, this is another reason why it’s important to address and heal the root causes of sleep problems, through therapy or other modes of healing and transformation.

With that said, there are several things you can start doing right away which will help you get better sleep in the short term, and this will help in every other area of your waking life too.

If you make a habit of practicing the following strategies every night, it will help you experience tremendous improvements in your sleep.

Ready to get some much needed rest?

10 Proven Strategies for Better Sleep Every Night

  1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. Ideally, your schedule will remain the same (+/- 20 minutes) every night of the week. This will help train your brain and body to know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake.
  2. Avoid naps if possible. Naps decrease the ‘Sleep debt’ that’s necessary for easy sleep onset. Each of us needs a certain amount of sleep per 24-hour period. Taking naps throws off the amount of sleep we need the next night. This can cause difficulty falling asleep and lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation.
  3. Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 20 minutes. If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get up and do something else for 15-20 minutes. Get out of bed, leave the room, sit in a chair in the dark, get a drink of water, whatever—then return to bed. No TV or smartphone during these periods! That will just stimulate you. If this happens several times during the night, it’s OK. Just maintain your regular wake time and try to avoid naps the next day.
  4. Turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Don’t watch TV or look at your smartphone in bed. When you watch TV or browse your phone in bed, you associate the bed with wakefulness. Electronics (anything with a screen) emit “blue light” which the brain associates with daylight and waking, and it will keep you up.
  5. Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon or evening. The effects of caffeine may last for several hours, disrupting your body’s rhythms and making it difficult to fall asleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only before noon. (Remember that soda and tea contain caffeine as well!)
  6. Avoid other substances that interfere with sleep. Alcohol, nicotine and over-the-counter medications can often disrupt sleep. One drink with dinner is usually fine but otherwise proceed with caution Likewise, try not to eat big meals close to bedtime, and avoid snacking late at night. If your body is working to digest while you’re trying to sleep, it will disrupt the quality of your sleep.
  7. Exercise regularly. Exercise before 2 pm every day. Regular exercise promotes continuous sleep. However, avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body, which will give you too much energy and keep you up.
  8. Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable. Set your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Generally, a little cooler is better than too warm. Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Background ‘white noise’ like a fan is OK. If your pets wake you, keep them outside the bedroom. Your bedroom should be completely dark. Turn off any lights. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress.
  9. Hide your clock at night. Looking at the clock late at night when you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep tends to increase anxiety & frustration about it, which will make it even harder to go to sleep. So avoid the temptation to look at the time! Better yet, put your phone, watch or any other clock out of sight and out of reach.
  10. Get into a comfortable pre-bedtime routine. About 30-60 minutes before you intend to go to sleep, turn off electronics and try any activities you find relaxing: Reading, meditation, prayer, a warm bath or shower are all great options.

Bonus tip: There are several fantastic apps specially designed to calm your mind and help you fall asleep easily. Breethe, Calm, and Headspace are all excellent options.

I highly recommend downloading one or more of these and using every night—especially if you struggle with turning your mind off at night (an extremely common experience with depression and anxiety).

Download the Free Guide

I compiled all these strategies into a free guide you can download right here. You might find it helpful to print it out and read them regularly.