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Lifestyle Changes that Improve Sleep

Shockingly, almost a third of people have insomnia, and this number is ever increasing. If falling or staying asleep is always a battle for you, it could be rooted in how you spend your waking moments. The way you live your everyday life has a direct impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep. Changing certain aspects of the way you live can lead to you getting a better night’s rest.

Here are some lifestyle changes you can start making!

Eat Healthy

The food you eat could be why you are tossing and turning; it’s important to eat a nutrient-rich diet that gives your brain what it needs to create the neurotransmitters that keep you asleep.

When to Eat and Drink

Not only is what you eat important, but when you eat is equally as integral. There are a few things that you should keep in mind. The first is that you should stick to a routine; daily switching what time you eat can lead to your circadian rhythm being out of sync, making it harder to fall asleep at night.

Another important thing to note is that you shouldn’t eat too close to bedtime – stop eating around three hours before you plan on sleeping. If you eat right before bed, your body will keep you up to digest the meal. Similarly, avoid drinking anything too close to bed to save you from waking up for a late-night bathroom trip. If you can’t resist a late-night snack, there are certain foods you can reach for.

What to Eat and Drink

Overall, the key is to maintain a balanced diet. Studies reveal that eating a high fiber, low saturated fat, and low sugar diet leads to waking up less throughout the night and having more restorative sleep. On the other hand, spicy or fatty foods may lead to indigestion that keeps you lying awake. Here are some foods and drinks that help promote sleep:

  • Water – First and foremost, it’s important that you stay hydrated throughout the day. Not getting enough water can lead to a dry mouth or nasal passage, causing snoring and keeping you awake. Not staying hydrated also has the potential to give you painful leg cramps that wake you up during the night.  
  • Tea – A common sleep remedy you’ve probably heard of is to drink a warm cup of tea before bed. One study found that drinking chamomile tea reduces anxiety. They also found that, drinking something warm was shown to leave people feeling less lonely and more secure. All of which lead to a better night’s rest.
  • Complex Carbohydrates – Try eating most of your daily recommended amount of complex carbs during dinner or as a nightly snack. Research has shown that eating complex carbohydrates, such as a piece of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, before bed helps you fall asleep faster.  
  • Vitamin B – Research has also shown that eating foods containing vitamin B helps you fall asleep in many different ways. Foods like poultry and fish have vitamin B6 in them, which helps your body turn tryptophan into sleep-inducing serotonin. Commonly used in herbal sleep aids, vitamin B3 actually lengthens your REM cycle and hinders waking up throughout the night; it's in beets, pork, peanuts, and more.
  • Melatonin – Melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm, which is what makes you feel tired at night and awake in the morning. Increasing your melatonin intake at night would help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep for a longer period of time, and wake up less throughout the night. You don’t necessarily need to reach for an over the counter melatonin supplement right away, because there are certain melatonin-rich foods that increase the overall levels of melatonin in your body. In terms of animal products, reach for eggs or fish. Other foods like pistachios, mushrooms, and even some cereals are also rich in melatonin. For a lighter snack, fruits such as grapes, cherries, and strawberries would also do the trick.


There is an abundant amount of research which indicates that regularly exercising can help you fall and stay asleep. Getting into an exercise routine has been shown to both improve your mental health and help to improve sleep disordered breathing and sleep apnea, all of which makes it easier to fall asleep.

It’s recommended that you work out for about thirty minutes at least five days a week, but even five minutes of physical activity can activate your body’s anti-anxiety responses. However, the full results happen over time, so you’ll need to stick to the routine for a couple weeks to really feel the change in your sleep.

When to Work Out

When it comes to getting more sleep, the ideal time to work out is in the morning, due to how your circadian rhythm functions. Working out in the morning helps you feel alert during the day and tired at night. Additionally, more slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep, occurs after working out earlier in the day. This deep sleep is the part of your sleep cycle that restores your body and mind the most and makes you feel well-rested.

However, a morning workout isn’t always possible for everyone; sometimes you may only find time for exercise after work. While there are still benefits to working out in the evening, it could potentially hinder your sleep due to the energy boost you get from exercise. On top of this, your body naturally cools down as you are falling asleep, but your body temperature remains hotter than normal for four hours after exercising. This means that your body will need to work harder to regulate its temperature, leading to you falling asleep slower.

There are a few ways to get around this issue. Some suggest taking up yoga in the evenings as a way to both work out and unwind. When it comes to regulating your body temperature, a hot bath could be the way to go. While your body temperature may initially increase due to the bath, it will then rapidly decrease. Another way to remain cool is to use a cooling mattress pad or cooling pillow that wick away moisture and help you cool off throughout the night.

Walk it Off

You don’t even have to hit the gym! A small change like taking a walk can make a big difference. A large struggle of getting the necessary exercise is needing to pay for a gym membership or actually getting yourself to go to the gym – don’t let these two things stop you. Studies have found that simply going for a walk can give you the physical activity that you need to stay healthy.

Regularly going for a ten-minute walk lowers blood pressure and heart rate, plus it reduces body fat, overall weight, and cholesterol. Not only this, but walking has been shown to improve anxiety and depression, which is what will improve your sleep quality and duration. If you only have a few minutes to spare in between everything else you need to get done in a day, taking a walk is an easy way to squeeze in a workout .

Keep It Clean

Studies have shown that having a clean room actually helps you sleep at night. One reason for this is the fact that, at any given time, your bed is littered with dust mites, pollen, and other allergens. These various things can lead to nasal congestion, sneezing, and other allergic reactions, making it more difficult to fall asleep and move into deep sleep.

Another way a messy room impacts your sleep is due to the fact that oils, dead skin cells, and other things build up over time inside your mattress and progressively make it less and less comfortable. An uneven mattress would also most likely lead to back, neck, and joint pain, which impacts you both when you are trying to sleep and in your daily life.

Lastly, sleeping in clutter impacts you psychologically. An unclean room causes a distraction for your mind when you are trying to unwind and fall asleep. Conversely, having a clean room reduces anxiety and depression symptoms, helping you rest easy at night.

Creating the Right Environment

Luckily there are a lot of easy steps to take in order for your room to be more inviting come bed time. 

  • Neat and Tidy – Something as simple as making your bed everyday can change the way you fall asleep. One study found that people who make their beds are 19% more likely to sleep well at night, both when it comes to the amount they sleep and in terms of falling asleep quickly. Not only does it feel more relaxing to be in an organized environment, it’s also more comforting to be in a bed that you’ve transformed into your own space. You can make your bed more welcoming with things like cozy throw blankets or decorative pillows.   
  • Clean – Another survey found that every seven in ten people felt more comfortable sleeping on fresh, clean, sheets. Make sure that you are washing your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week in hot water (cleaning your bedding in water that's 130 degrees Fahrenheit will eliminate dust mites). It doesn’t stop there. You should also vacuum your mattress regularly, and spot clean any spills and stains with a mixture of one cup of hot water and one teaspoon of dish soap. 
  • Protected – The easiest way to keep your bed clean is to be preemptively prepared for spills, allergens, or anything else that might find its way onto your bed. By using mattress protectors and pillow covers you avoid all of the things that deteriorate your mattress and pillows. Then, when it comes time to clean your bed, all you have to do is remove the covers, throw them in the wash, then put them back on your bed. 


Something that keeps people up at night is that they can’t stop their mind from running, whether it be due to anxiety, a sleeping disorder, or simply because they can’t stop thinking about their plans for the next day. A large part of not being able to shut off at night is the fact that people aren’t taking the time to do so. Psychologists suggest taking about an hour before bed simply to relax and get ready to sleep.

The hardest part of this is most likely setting down your phone for that hour before bed. But the reason this is necessary is twofold. First, the blue light emitted from phones is the same light that tells our internal clock it needs to be awake. More importantly, your phone also keeps you emotionally and mentally engaged, and incapable of falling asleep. One study found that texting is connected to a lack of sleep, taking longer to fall asleep, and feeling groggier during the day

Don't Spend All Day In Bed

Using your room as a space where you do work, watch TV, or go online is a huge factor behind not being able to unwind in your bedroom. By constantly doing other tasks in your room, your brain associates the space with those tasks, rather than just associating it with sleep. This translates to your brain feeling awake and alert when you are in your bedroom.

Meditation Techniques

If you are still having trouble falling asleep after getting rid of all the distractions in your room, try out some relaxation techniques that are proven to help calm your mind. Mindful meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

There are a few simple techniques you can use. The first and easiest thing you can do are breathing exercises, which consists of slow deep breaths that you hold for a few seconds before exhaling. Another tactic is known as autogenic training, in which you tense then relax your body, section by section. Lastly, guided imagery is also a useful relaxation method. Essentially, you think of your happy place and then focus on the way the place would impact your various senses

If you are one of the many people that struggle to fall or stay asleep at night, it may be time to start thinking about some positive lifestyle changes that you can make like eating healthy or creating the right sleeping environment. You’d be surprised at what a few simple changes could do to your sleeping habits.

We hope these tips help you get the sleep of your dreams!

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