A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your overall well-being, exercise performance and brain function. It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children.

In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better and be healthier.

Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep. If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, then getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.

Here are a few on my top evidence-based tips to sleep better at night:

1. Try to Sleep and Wake at Consistent Times

Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality. One study noted that participants who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep.

Other studies have highlighted that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal your brain to sleep.

If you struggle with sleep, try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.

SUMMARY: Try to get into a regular sleep/wake cycle — especially on the weekends. If possible, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day.

2. Don’t Consume Caffeine Late in the Day

Caffeine has numerous benefits and is consumed by 90% of the US population.

A single dose can enhance focus, energy and sports performance. However, when consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. In one study, consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended — especially if you are sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.

If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.

SUMMARY: Caffeine can significantly worsen sleep quality, especially if you drink large amounts in the late afternoon or evening.

3. Be Mindful of Alcohol Consumption

Downing a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones. Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns. It also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm.

SUMMARY: Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.

4. Optimize Your Bedroom Environment

Many people believe that the bedroom environment and its setup are key factors in getting a good night’s sleep. These factors include temperature, noise, external lights and furniture arrangement. Numerous studies point out that external noise, often from traffic, can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues. In one study on the bedroom environment of women, around 50% of participants noticed improved sleep quality when noise and light diminished.

To optimize your bedroom environment, try to minimize external noise, light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place.

SUMMARY: Optimize your bedroom environment by eliminating external light and noise to get better sleep.

5. Set Your Bedroom Temperature

Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly impact sleep quality.

As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good night’s sleep when it’s too warm. One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise. Other studies reveal that increased body and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness.

Around 70°F seems to be a comfortable temperature for most people, although it depends on your preferences and habits.

SUMMARY: Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 70°F  is best for most people.

6. Don’t Eat Late in the Evening

Late-night eating may negatively impact both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin. That said, the quality and type of your late-night snack may play a role as well. In one study, a high-carb meal eaten four hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster.

SUMMARY: Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, certain meals and snacks a few hours before bed may help.

7. Relax and Clear Your Mind in the Evening

Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax. Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia. Strategies include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditation, deep breathing and visualization. Try out different methods and find what works best for you.

SUMMARY: Relaxation techniques before bed, including hot baths and meditation, may help you fall asleep.

8. Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower

A relaxing bath or shower is another popular way to sleep better. Studies indicate that they can improve overall sleep quality and help people — especially older adults — fall asleep faster. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a full bath at night, simply bathing your feet in hot water can help you relax and improve sleep.

SUMMARY: A warm bath, shower or foot bath before bed can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.

9. Exercise Regularly — But Not Before Bed

Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. It can enhance all aspects of sleep and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia. In people with severe insomnia, exercise offered more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30% and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.

Although daily exercise is key for a good night’s sleep, performing it too late in the day may cause sleep problems. This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.

SUMMARY: Regular exercise during daylight hours is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep.

10. Don’t Drink Any Liquids Before Bed

Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. It affects sleep quality and daytime energy. Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms, though some people are more sensitive than others. Although hydration is vital for your health, it is wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening. Try not to drink any fluids 1–2 hours before going to bed.

SUMMARY: Reduce fluid intake in the late evening and try to use the bathroom right before bed.

11. Consider These All-Natural Supplements

Several supplements can induce relaxation and help you sleep, including:

  • Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. My top recommendation is the Shaklee Gentle Sleep Complex. Take 3 before bed or crush and make a tea to sip.
  • Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 body reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality. My recommendation is the Shaklee ‘sustained release’ Vita-Mag.
  • Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46% linalool

Make sure to only try these supplements one at a time. While they are no magic bullet for sleep issues, they can be useful when combined with other natural sleeping strategies.

SUMMARY: Several supplements, including lavender and magnesium, can help with relaxation and sleep quality when combined with other strategies.

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