How to get better quality sleep

Is trying to get better quality sleep keeping you up at night? You’re not alone. But when you ask Dr. Google, you’re likely to get the same few suggestions: keep to a regular sleep schedule, avoid screen-time before bed and no alcohol or caffeine after dinner. All good advice, but once you’ve tried these ideas and you’re still not getting enough sleep, it may be time to try something else.

1. Progressive relaxation

Have you ever suddenly become aware that you are clenching your jaw…or making a fist, and you didn’t realize it? That’s where progressive relaxation comes in. Falling asleep is hard enough for some people, but it’s near impossible if your muscles are contracted and tense. Try lying on your back in bed and, starting at your toes, tense the muscles for a few seconds and then release. Breathe deeply and steady while you do this. Focus on each muscle group. When you get up to your head, clench your jaw, then your mouth, don’t forget to squeeze your eyebrows! This exercise will not only provide total body relaxation, but it will help you become more aware of when your body is tense so you can you more consciously relax.

2. Write it…then forget it

Keeping a to-do list in your head is hard at the best of times, but when you’re trying to sleep, it can be a huge distraction. If you’re like a lot of people, once you get into bed your minds will start to race through everything you need to do the next day. Try keeping a pen and paper near your bed and before “lights out”, write your to-do list for the next day. Once you know that it is safely recorded somewhere, just let it go. Nothing is going to get done while you’re asleep, and the list will be waiting for you in the morning.

3. You got a date or something?

Do not keep checking the time if you have trouble falling asleep. This will only stress you out and feed the continuous countdown of how much time is left before you have to get up for the day. If you keep a clock next to your bed, turn it away from you. Keep your phone face down, or better yet, in a drawer!

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you still cannot get a good night’s sleep, you may want to consult with your doctor.


Article by Krisha McCoy, Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

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