How to Sleep Better: 7 Essential Steps

You spend ⅓ of your life sleeping, so you better be nothing less than perfect at it.

Sleeping more and better increases health1, happiness2, and productivity. Here’s the proven tactics I use to maximize those benefits.   

1. Make Your Bedroom Pitch Black  

Our brain associate darkness with night, and light with day. Being in a bright room filled with screens decreases melatonin production and makes your body believe it’s daytime.

Therefore, make sure that your bedroom is dark. Just don’t scare yourself to death, okay? 😉 Here’s some suggestions on how to block out all light:

  • Get blinds and thick curtains to block outside light. 

  • Throw away your digital alarm clock. They emit light and checking the time can just stress you.
  • Close all doors and turn off all lamps.
  • Get a sleep mask if you sleep somewhere where you don’t control the environment. Like on airplanes, commutes and at friend’s houses.  
  • Use duck tape to block light from things like air conditioners, speakers and computers. When you’re in a completely black room, having one blinking light is the most annoying thing in the world.

2. Make Your Bedroom Quiet  

I can’t fall asleep if I hear the slightest sound, and I think many more agree with me.  Sounds can also decrease your sleep quality3 and wake you up. Damn alarm clocks!

There’s many ways you can make your bedroom quiet.

  • Close all doors and windows.
  • Tell the people you live with to please be quiet, at least until you fall asleep.
  • Put a sign on your door that says I’m sleeping – Don’t Disturb if you’re living with people. I made one you can print:  

  • Get earplugs if you don’t have control over your environment. I can’t use them – I’m creeped out when I hear my heartbeat, breathing and other sounds inside me.
  • Turn off noisy things like humming computers, air conditioners, ticking clocks, running water and washing machines.
  • Drown out all remaining noise using the web app Noisli or the free iPhone and Android app Rain Rain. You might even find the sounds relaxing.  

  • Turn on Don’t Disturb on your phone and schedule it to turn on between your sleep hours. iPhone people: go to Settings → Do Not Disturb → Scheduled. Android people: go to Settings → Device → Sound → Do Not Disturb → Automatic Rules.  

3. Sleep in the Perfect Temperature

The ideal sleep temperature is about 65-70°F (18-21 °C)4. Check so you got the right temperature with thermometer.

By this point, you probably think I want to turn all bedrooms into horror movies. Dark, quiet like a graveyard and cold like the winter. But trust me, that is not the case AT ALL… 😉

4. Block Blue Light     

The blue light from devices like phones, TV:s and computers decrease melatonin production5

The best thing would be to not use devices 3 hours before bedtime, but we all know that’s not going to happen. Fortunately, productivity tech can help us by removing most blue light from the screen. Here’s the free programs for all devices and platforms:

  • Windows, OS and Linux people: download f.lux.

  • Chromebook people: install the chrome extension Screen Shader.
  • Android people: download the app Twilight.
  • iPhone people: use Night Shift on schedule by going to Settings → Display & Brightness → Night Shift → Scheduled. Unfortunately, it only works on iPhone 5S or later. (Damn you, my 5C!)

To maximize the benefits, buy a pair of blue blocking glasses. They’re good for blocking blue light coming from lamps and devices where these apps aren’t available. You’ll look dorky, but they can increase sleep quality by 50%5.  

5. Be Smart About What You Eat and Drink

What you consume can affect your sleep significantly. Here’s some suggestions on what to eat to get a great night’s sleep:

Cut out caffeine 6 hours before you go to bed: Although coffee is the greatest addiction ever, it increases adrenaline and blocks melatonin6.

There’s also other things with caffeine in them, like many teas, energy drinks and sodas.  

Stop drinking liquids 1 hour before bedtime: It can wake up in the middle of the night.

Skip the nightcap: It can make you fall asleep faster, but decreases sleep quality7 .

6. Wind Down and Clear Your Head

Here’s are 3 habits that has countless benefits, and increased sleep quality is one of them.

Gratitude: Write down 3 things you’re grateful for every morning, or before you go to sleep. It’s proven to make you more relaxed, healthy and happy – and seem to increase sleep quality by 25%8.

Meditation: While trying to sleep you’re often stressing and thinking about a thousand things. Meditation then calms you down and gives you a simple thing to focus on: your breath.

Just observe yourself breathing – feel the air coming in and going through your body. Then feel it flowing out. When you start thinking about something more interesting than your breath, bring your focus back

Exercise: 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week can increase your sleep quality by 65%9. Although, exercise earlier in the day as exercising close to sleep just makes you more energetic.

7. Sleep for the Right Amount of Hours   

When you’ve already done all these things, what is the “perfect” amount of sleep you can get?

“In terms of prevention, consistently sleeping 6 to 8 hours a night may therefore be optimal for health” – Study

Start at 7 hours as a baseline and then experiment to find your optimal sleep duration – everyone is different. It largely depends on age, needing less sleep the older you get.

Also, try to go to bed at the same time every day. Then you train your body to get sleepy and alert at specific times. You’ll also get more sleep if you fall asleep at the right time.

Here’s some things I’ve done to force myself to go to sleep at the same time every day (except when I’m social):

  • Set an alarm for the target time you want to get to sleep
  • Schedule the chrome extension Blocksite to block all distracting websites past 10pm. Otherwise I’ll just continue watching Friends until the end of time.
  • Create horrible consequences to happen if you don’t get to bed on time. For example, tell someone you live to watch the time you fall asleep. If they see you awake past your target time, tell them to wake you up by throwing ice water on you. 

Start Your Own Sleep Routine  

Now you know how to have a great night’s sleep.

Just start to use what sleep hacks intrigued you.  

Happy sleeping! 🙂