The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Sleeping Well Every Night

Research shows the benefits of sleeping well are extremely wide-ranging:

  • Feel happier
  • Increase your energy
  • Increase your focus and decision making
  • Reduce your stress response
  • Improve your memory
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Enhance your creativity
  • Improve your relationships
  • Enhance your cognitive performance
  • Help control your weight
  • Avoid accidents (driver sleepiness may contribute to around 20% of accidents on long journeys)

Sleep deprivation is both a cause and a consequence of stress and physical anxiety.

Studies show that a lack of sleep can lead to a more active amygdala—the part of your brain that generates your stress response.

When you’re sleep deprived, getting less than 7 hours sleep a night, there will likely be an increase in cortisol and adrenaline in your system.

As the NHS website explains:

“When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than six hours a night.

One in three of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home often blamed. However, the cost of all those sleepless nights is more than just bad moods and a lack of focus. Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes—and it shortens your life expectancy.

It’s now clear that a solid night’s sleep is essential for a long and healthy life.”

Clearly, investing in developing positive sleeping habits is one of the best decisions you can make for improving your health.

If you've made it your mission to sleep better, congratulations on taking action!

Your efforts are sure to pay off, and this step-by-step guide is here to help you.



Contents

Step One: Optimise Your Environmental Conditions
Step Two: Avoid These 7 Things
Step Three: Design a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Step Four: 6 Effective Techniques to Quiet the Mind
Step Five: Experiment with Top Sleep Enhancers
Summary + Sleep Kit

 

Step One: Optimise Your Environmental Conditions

When it comes to changing your habits, it's a good idea to start with the easiest or most enjoyable step.

With this in mind, the first thing we recommend doing is focusing on optimising your environment for better sleep.

Here are 4 quick and easy tips!


1) Make It Cool

A slight dip in body temperature promotes good sleep, so your bedroom should be cooler compared to other rooms in your home.

As author of Why We Sleep Matthew Walker explains, "The need to dump heat from our extremities is also the reason that you may occasionally stick your hands and feet out from underneath the bedcovers at night due to your core becoming too hot, usually without your knowing."

Linen is a good option for bed sheets, as it’s cozy in winter and light enough to keep you cool in summer.

Wearing appropriate sleepwear (or none!) plays an important role in ensuring optimal body temperature.

Getting into the habit of opening your windows or using a fan are other options for cooling your room.



2) Make It Dark

We recommend investing in ‘blackout curtains’. These are made from thicker fabrics and have liners that block light to keep your room dark.

You could also use a sleep mask (here’s a best-selling one from Amazon).



3) Make It Quiet

AVANTEK Sleep White Noise Machine
Studies have shown that external noise can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues.

We recommend investing in high quality earplugs to help block out noise.

If earbuds won’t cut it or are unappealing, you could try a white noise machine.

In simple terms, white noise is a special type of sound signal used to mask background sounds. When used to promote healthy sleep, white noise helps drown out sounds which might otherwise prevent you from either falling asleep or waking up whilst asleep.

Alternatively, there are apps that generate white noise (iTunes link, Google Play link).



4) Make It Cozy

As mentioned, linen is a good option for bedding.

Good quality linen will make more of a difference than finding bed sheets with a higher thread count, which has been shown to be a bit of a scam.

Other good options are:

  • Egyptian cotton
  • Combed cotton
  • Pima cotton

Nick Littlehales, sports sleep coach and author of the book Sleep, recommends looking for material that is breathable and anti-allergy, even if you don’t suffer from allergies.

If a pillow, duvet or bedding protector is described as having anti-allergy properties, it’ll be resistant to dust mites. Dust mites can interfere with your comfort and impair sleep if you’re allergic (it’s estimated that 20% of us do have allergies).

Another coziness option: Why not treat yourself to an electric blanket for winter?

You can also give your bed an extra layer of softness and support with a memory foam mattress topper.

And finally, a down duvet is super cozy and feels luxurious!



Summary Step One: Optimise Your Environmental Conditions

  • Make it cool. Ensure your bedroom is slightly cooler than the rest of your house, opt for light bed sheet materials such as linen, and dress appropriately
  • Make it dark with blackout curtains or a sleep mask
  • Make it quiet with earplugs or a white noise machine
  • Make it cosy. Go for breathable and anti-allergy bedding. Experiment with electric blankets, mattress toppers and down duvets for extra comfort

Sleep Success Story

"Due to premenopause and hypothroidism, sleep had been elusive. It got pretty stressful. This was affecting my mental health so I had to listen to all the advice given and apply it. I bought a better pillow suited for neck alignment and a firmer memory foam pad for my mattress. Both were of COOLING temps. I keep my room darker. I don't eat after 7 p.m. (especially liquids). I spray lavender essential oil on my pillow. I try not to be online or watch TV in my room. I go to bed at roughly the same time. All of this HAS helped. I fall asleep under 20 minutes now and wake up only a couple of times to use the restroom." - @highfivemotivation
 

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