I’ve always been a horrible sleeper, and I know the main underlying issue is my anxiety. I’ve always had anxiety, even before I knew what it was! It seems to be hereditary, and I’ve learned to deal with it the best I can. It mostly comes up in social situations, or at night. I have a really tough time relaxing at night. I just can’t keep to shut my mind off!
I’ve learned I need to follow a certain routine in the evenings if I want to get a good night’s sleep. Over the years I’ve tried many of the tips on this list, and a lot of them really work for me! It’s tough to follow them all, every single day, but if I do most of these, I know I have a better chance of falling fast asleep.
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12 Tips for Getting More Sleep
1. Do some yoga poses before bed. You don’t have to be a skilled yogi to do a couple poses! Stretching and focusing on your breathing will help you relax. Here are five great yoga poses to do before bed. I try to do, at the very least, “legs up the wall” and child’s pose every evening. These two poses are especially great if you sit at a desk all day, like I do!
2. Make sure you’re getting a little bit of sunlight and exercise each day. Ideally, a morning walk is the perfect way to get your daily sunlight recharge because it not only gets your brain and body moving and ready to face the day, but the bright sunshine tells your internal clock it’s time to wake up. That same internal clock will know when it’s time to go to sleep at night, and will start to learn your daily rhythm. Science!
3. Skip the afternoon coffee or soda. I’m totally familiar with the afternoon slump and wanting that pick-me-up, but the caffeine will stay in your system past bedtime, which is not good.
4. Write down a to-do list for the next day. When you’re done with all your work and tasks for the day, write down your to-do list for tomorrow in your planner, then close it up and put it away. That way you’re not laying in bed, trying to remember all the things you have to do when you wake up! You’ll sleep better knowing it’s all written down and waiting for you when you wake up.
5. Keep a journal. I keep a gratitude journal where I write down five things I’m grateful for that day. Plain old daily journaling is also helpful. Getting the events of the day, along with your thoughts, out of your head and onto paper will help clear your mind before bed.
6. Unplug one hour before going to bed. That means no TV, no laptop, and no phone. Yes, it’s very difficult but I promise it will help! Use that hour to write in your gratitude journal and/or read a book.
7. Keep your bedroom clean and clutter-free. Of all the places in your house, your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Use your “unplug hour” to put clothes away and tidy things up, if you need to. You’ll appreciate the decluttered space when you’re laying in bed!
8. Diffuse lavender essential oil. The aroma of lavender is widely known to be relaxing and calming. About an hour before bed, start to diffuse some lavender essential oil and leave it on overnight, if the sound of your diffuser doesn’t bother you. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can rub a drop or two of lavender oil on your feet right before bed.
9. No sugar two hours before bed. This is the toughest one for me, because I always have a major sweet tooth right before bed! There’s nothing like a huge bowl of ice cream while I’m watching my evening TV shows. But try to resist!
10. No alcohol two hours before bed (yes, alcohol counts as a sugar but most people don’t think about that)!
11. Wear a sleep mask. I always thought this was a silly thing rich and spoiled people did (you always see it on TV and movies) but one of my conference roommates had one and told me she sleeps much better after she started wearing it every night! So I tried it and she was right! Again, it’s not one of those things I use every night but if I’m having trouble falling asleep, I’ll put it on. I never travel without it now!
12. Taking a sleep supplement like RESCUE Sleep Liquid Melts can help send you off to dreamland if you find your mind is restless. It’s not something that should be relied upon every night, but I keep them in my beside drawer just in case.
My friend turned me on to Bach’s RESCUE Remedy drops a couple years ago, when I was chatting with her about my social anxiety at conferences. She said it really helped her, so I sought it out, and I fell in love with the product. I really like how it’s all natural and non-habit forming. It seems to simply help me stay calm and give me a feeling of control. Now I always take it with me to conferences, and also keep it in my bedside drawer so I can use it at night when I’m having trouble falling asleep. It works like a charm! After being around for over 80 years (yes, 80!), RESCUE Remedy is now available in some convenient new forms, including RESCUE Pastilles, RESCUE Pearls, and RESCUE Sleep Liquid Melts. The RESCUE Pastilles are like little gummy candies that come in a tin, making them perfect for carrying around in your handbag. I prefer the RESCUE Pearls and RESCUE Sleep Liquid Melts (which are essentially like the RESCUE Pearls but for bedtime). They are little capsules that you place on or under your tongue that dissolve very quickly. All RESCUE products contain the following natural flower essences:
Star of Bethlehem – Orithogalum umbellatum
Rock Rose – Helianthemum
Cherry Plum – Prunus cerasifera
Impatiens – Impatiens gladulifera
Clematis – Clematis vitalba
And the RESCUE Sleep also contains White Chestnut, which has traditionally been used to help switch off the mind from unwanted, repetitive thoughts. Which pretty much describes my brain every night as I’m trying to fall asleep.
I have one last thing to share with you! I made this little printable depicting the lyrics from one of my favorite Disney songs, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella. It’s a 5″ x 7″ printable you can print out and hang by your bed, to remind you to dream sweet dreams!
(Right click on the image and open it in a new window or tab to view & print the full size image)
This article was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated.