We don’t get nearly enough sleep as we should. The latest research show that almost half of the US population doesn’t get sufficient sleep at night (source). This leads to many people wondering why they feel so tired during the day.
We are here to help! We compiled a list of the top natural sleep tips to help you fall asleep, and stay asleep, at night.
Our sleep tips are categorized according to their topic, we will cover everything from lifestyle decisions to beneficial supplements (and everything in-between!). Our goal is to help you sleep better!
We have broken our sleep tips up by sections:
•1-7 Before Bed Tips
•8-15 How to Increase Your Comfort at Night and Avoid Sleep Disturbances
•16-21 How Your Morning and Afternoon Impact Your Sleep at Night
•22-28 How To Optimize Your Diet For Better Sleep
•29-33 Herbs and Supplements That Help To Promote Sleep
Before Bed Tips (sleep tips 1-7)
The things you do, or don't do, before bed go a long way towards helping to fall asleep and stay asleep.
1. Create an Evening Ritual
While morning rituals might be more popular right now, an evening ritual is JUST as important. An evening ritual should consist of a loose, relaxing schedule that you follow every night.
For instance, a hour before bed you turn off all electronics, take any needed sleep supplements, put on your favorite pajamas, write down a list of things you are thankful for, brush your teeth, and then read a book.
The key is to create a relaxing atmosphere and to be consistent. By following this routine you are telling your brain “it’s time to relax and sleep”.
2. Have a Set Sleeping Schedule
Try to keep the same sleeping routine every night. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times (even on weekends). Experts recommend 7-9 hours, every night. This amount allows you to get a full night of physically restorative non-REM sleep.
This may seem like a hassle, but the payoff in sleep quality is worth it. Your fully restored brain and body will thank you.
3. Empty Your Head of To-Do’s
An hour or so before before you go to bed at night write down a list of things you want to accomplish the next day. Doing this gives a twofold benefit.
First off, it allows you to empty your brain of all the activities and to-do’s that are swirling around.
Secondly, it gives you an action list for the next day. Having an actionable to-do list ready at the start of every day will skyrocket your productivity!
4. Keep A Daily Thankfulness Journal
Creating a thankfulness journal is hands down one of the best things you can do to promote a sense of peace and calm in your life.
Keeping a thankfulness journal is simple, every day (nighttime is best for those looking to create a pre-bed ritual) simply write down 5 things you are thankful for. It can be as simple as being thankful for clothes and a roof over your head.
Write down 5 every single day. Doing this every day is so powerful because it changes your mindset. You can’t be negative and thankful at the same time.
So go ahead and keep track of all of the blessings in your life. You have more blessings in your life than you realize. You have life! You’re breathing. You can read this sentence. Be thankful. Smile.
5. Read a Book
Nothing earth shattering here. Read a classic at night. Reading before bed is fantastic because it does two things.
First, it helps to wind your brain down and makes you sleepy (especially if you are reading a lengthy or technical book!).
Second, it allows you a chance to continue to learn and grow. That is a core part of being a human. Growing and changing. So read a book a night!
6. Take a Hot Bath
A bath is a great way to relax and get ready for bed. Think about it, what’s more relaxing than taking a bath?
In addition to relaxing your body, taking a hot bath raises your core body temperature while you’re in the warm water. When you get out, your body temperature instantly drops, signaling your body that you’re ready for sleep.
Consider adding calming bath salts to your water, we suggest Herbivore Botanicals Calm bath salt blend. The Vanilla Essential Oil used in the product has a natural calming/relaxing effect on the brain and is perfect for helping you wind down at night.
7. Stretch Before Bed
Stretching is a relaxing practice that provides a myriad of benefits. Doing stretches at night is especially beneficial as it helps you to wind down and prepares your body for sleep.
Here is a link to an article with 7 stretches that will help you fall asleep fast.
How to Increase Your Comfort at Night and Avoid Sleep Disturbances (sleep tips 8-15)
When you're more comfortable, you sleep better. Pretty simple. Here are some tips for how you can maximize your comfort.
8. Get A Mattress That Is Optimized For You
Having a comfortable mattress that is right for your body is key. Different people prefer different types of mattresses, whether that means a softer mattress, or a higher density one. Another thing to look at is whether your bedding is too warm for you, having too warm of a sleep environment can cause issues.
Check out the mattresses by our friends at Performa Sleep. It has a special copper lining that helps to cool you and creates better circulation. They have worked extensively with top athletes to create their ultra cooling mattress. You can learn more at PerformaSleep.com.
9. Get Set of Premium Bed Sheets
Getting a set of premium sheets can make a big difference for your sleep. Better quality sheets provide a higher amount of comfort. People that are more comfortable sleep better. Pretty simple.
We recommend the premium sheets created by our friends over at Boll and Branch. Their sheets are created from Fair Trade™ cotton that is Organically grown. In addition to that, their sheets have a high thread count and help to provide the ultimate comfort for every season.
10. Make Sure Your Sleeping Environment Has an Optimal Temperature
Dr. Christopher Winter, Medical Director at Charlottesville Neurology & Sleep Medicine, says your bedroom should be between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Temperatures above, or below, can be disruptive and cause sleep problems.
Switching your thermostat to a lower temperature is the easiest way to change the temperature of your sleep environment. Another, potentially cost saving way is to check out Performa Sleep’s mattress. It has a copper cooling lining that helps to keep you cool at night, you can learn more here.
11. Use Aromatherapy to Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
Use aromatherapy to release calming scents into your bedroom/home. Great scents for promoting relaxation include Lavender and Clary Sage.
If you are interested in trying out Aromatherapy, you can easily get started by picking up a fan fuser model. These tend to be easy to use and affordable.
You can also go with an Ultrasonic model, these tend to be a bit more expensive but work even better. Ultrasonic diffusers often have timers, which work nicely at night: you can set the timer to go on and off throughout the night so it's not running continuously.
12. Avoid Light at Night
Light is the most potent environmental cue for our biological clocks and bodies. Light tells us when to wake up, dictates how alert or sleepy we are across the day, and can keep us up at night.
Melatonin is a sleep inducing hormone that our bodies naturally create. At night, when it starts to get dark out, Melatonin is released into our bodies to help us wind down and prepare for bed.
Research show that sleeping in total darkness increases the amount of Melatonin that our bodies release (source). The only problem is that it is our body’s release of Melatonin is highly sensitive to light. At night when your body senses light, it reduces (or even completely stops) the release of Melatonin. This leads to a host of sleep problems.
A window cover is a good way to make sure that your bedroom is completely dark. We recommend these Window Covers, which are simple to setup and does the job effectively by blocking all outside light. You can also easily take them on and off.
13. Limit Social Media
According to new research, the more time you spend on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…), the more likely it is that you will experience sleep disturbances (source). Try limiting your amount of social media every day, or at least cutting it off an hour before bedtime.
Another way to reduce time spent on social media is to install a time tracking app on your phone. At Utzy we have used and recommend the app Instant by Emberify. It keeps track of your sleep, phone time, etc… It also lets you keep track of self imposed limits, a super helpful feature. You can download Instant on the App Store or Google Play.
14. Avoid Noise at Night
Peaceful sleep is sleep without noise. People who live near traffic often have sub-arousal states of sleep; meaning they are asleep per se but there are hints of wakeful activity in their brains.
This happens because noise activates our body’s defense mechanism. This leads to stress hormones being released into our bodies. Our body’s defense mechanism is activated from sounds “as low” as 70 dB when awake and at 30 dB (the sound level similar to that of a whisper) when we sleep.This in turn can lead to sleep complications, lower performance, and generally lower mood.
We recommend that you check out the earplugs by our friends at Happy Ears. Their uber comfortable earplugs reduce all noise by 25 decibels (on average) lowering the volume so that you can sleep comfortably (without your body’s defense mechanism becoming activated).
15. Use a White Noise Machine to Conceal Noise Disturbances
Getting a white noise machine is a great way to improve your sleep quality.
A white noise machine works by producing a blanket of sound which helps mask noises that might disturb sleep at night.
The company that makes hands down the best white noise machines is Marpac. Here are their recommendations on how to use their machines
“We recommend always leaving the machine on when you sleep, because part of the purpose is to mask noises that might wake you up in the middle of the night. Many people also like to incorporate it into the before-bed routine as a way to wind down and signal to the brain that “it’s time to relax and head towards sleep.” In fact, we know some people who put their white noise machine on a timer as a sort of “reverse alarm clock” – so when the machine comes on, they know it’s time for bed.”
How Your Morning and Afternoon Impact Your Sleep at Night (sleep tips 16-21)A good start to your day goes a long way towards helping you fall asleep at night.
16. Ditch Your Old School Ticking Clock For A Modern Clock
Avoid visible clocks and clock watching. Keeping track of time spent not sleeping can be stressful and keep you awake. So go without a traditional ticking clock in favor of a modern clock free of LED Lights (remember, those blue lights keep you up).
An innovative new alarm clock that was recently released is the Ruggie. It’s an alarm clock that is similar to a mat. To turn it off, you have to get out of bed stand on it for 3 seconds. Genius! That’s one way to guarantee that you won’t snooze through your alarm!
In addition to that, the Ruggie can be pre-loaded with motivational speeches instead of buzzing alarm noises; that sounds like the absolute best way to take on a Monday!
17. Track Your Sleep
Tracking your sleep is a great way to get objective feedback on how well you are resting. Though there are lots of different iPhone and Android apps for keeping track of sleep, the Beddit sleep monitor is the best. It’s a pad that you simply lay down on top of your bed, the pad has sensors that track your nighttime movements and activities.
This gives in-depth feedback on how you slept, how long you slept for, etc… You can check out the Beddit system here.
18. Blast yourself with Sunlight In the Morning
Nothing jolts your body clock awake and keeps it ticking throughout the day like 15-30 minutes of sunlight in the morning. Sleep scientists from the University of Colorado took students camping for a few weeks and discovered that our body clocks are more sensitive and stabilized by natural light compared to artificial light. Consider adding sunlight to your morning routine!
Get at least 30 minutes of sunshine daily. The sun will help balance your sleep/wake cycle. Sunshine also gives you Vitamin D, which gives you a host of other benefits.
19. Don’t Nap During the Day
Taking a nap in the afternoon may be a great option for keeping you well rested, but for the fact that napping may impact your ability to fall asleep later that night.
So skip the nap and stretch or take a walk instead. The light exercise will refresh your mind and will give you the mental boost you’re looking for without messing with your nightly sleep schedule.
20. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise improves sleep quality, and helps you to go to bed tired. A commonly held myth is that exercising within 3 hours before bed negatively impacts sleep. This is not the case for everyone. The results of a 2011 Sleep Study indicated that vigorous late-night exercise does not disturb sleep quality. So feel free to exercise at anytime during the day!
While there might not be a wrong time to exercise, is there an optimal time to workout? This article goes over the best time to workout.
21. Limit caffeine intake (in the afternoon especially)
Avoid caffeine after 3:00pm. Caffeine has been shown to stay in your system anywhere from 4-6 hours after drinking it. Think about it, if you drink a cup of coffee at 3:30, the caffeine from it will be active in your body up until 9:00 at night. Not good.
Even though having that iced americano may help you cruise through your afternoon, it can really mess with your ability to fall asleep later at night. Skip the coffee and consider a caffeine-free tea as an alternative.
Optimize Your Diet For Better Sleep (sleep tips 22-28)A healthy diet goes a long way towards helping you sleep better at night.
22. Get Enough Vitamin B (Specifically B6)
Vitamin B is well-known to promote energy and alertness, but do you know that it can also promote sleep? Vitamin B aids in the conversion of Tryptophan into Serotonin (source).
One lesser-known but potent source of Vitamin B (and other valuable nutrients) is blue-green algae. You can also supplement with Vitamin B via a high quality multi-vitamin supplement.
23. Eat a High Protein Diet...
New research out of University of Purdue shows that a high protein diet can help to improve sleep quality, as well as helping with losing weight.
Better sleep combine with weights loss? Sign us up! Participants in the study ate 1.5 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. Read more about the study here
24. ....But Eat Carbs Before Bed
Eat some carbs before you head to bed at night. New research shows that eating high glycemic carbs before bed shortened sleep onset (source). This means that eating fast digesting (like jasmine rice) before bed helps to, in a sense, ‘knock you out’.
Now you might be asking yourself, “didn’t you just say to eat a high protein diet is best, and now you’re saying to eat carbs before bed?”. Yes, and both are true.
While an overall diet high in protein is ideal, eating a high carb snack before bed is a great idea for inducing sleep. This research shows the importance of something called “meal timing”. Eating different foods at different times of the day can give you better results. You can learn more about nutrient timing here.
So save some of your daily carb allotment for bedtime. It’ll help you fall asleep faster!
25. Make Sure To Get Enough Calcium
Calcium plays a major part in the function of our sleep cycle. In a study published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during our deepest levels of sleep, especially during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.
The study concluded that disturbances in sleep, especially during REM deep sleep, can be related to a calcium deficiency. Restoration to the normal course of sleep was achieved following the normalization of the blood calcium level.
William Sears, M.D. writes: "Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods."
Make sure to get enough Calcium on a daily basis. the recommended daily intake for adults is 1,000 milligrams (mg) daily. You can get this naturally through foods. High calcium foods include dairy products, as well as vegetables such as kale and broccoli.
26. German Chamomile
Chamomile is one of the oldest medicinally used herbs known to mankind. Many different Chamomile offerings have been developed, the most popular of which is in the form of tea.
There are two different types of Chamomile, with German Chamomile being the ideal variant for sleep support. In herbal medicine, Chamomile is regarded as being a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. These effects may be due to the flavonoid Apigenin that binds to Benzodiazepine receptors in the brain (Source)
We include Chamomile in our Stay Asleep natural sleep aid supplement. It plays a vital role in our formula as a relaxing agent that aids your body falling into deep, restorative sleep.
27. Make Sure Your Gut Is Healthy
Recent research shows that your gut health is directly tied to your ability to sleep throughout the night. Specifically, gut health influences your ability to get Non-REM sleep (link).
One of the best ways to take care of your gut health is to take a high quality probiotic product. In addition to that, consider adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi to your diet.
28. Consider Tart Cherry Extract
The top source of naturally occurring melatonin is found in Tart Cherries. In addition to this, new research shows that Tart Cherry Concentrate helps to increase your body’s Melatonin stores (source). This makes Tart cherries a great option for those looking to naturally increase their Melatonin levels.
You can add Tart Cherries to your diet through a couple of different sources. One way would to buy whole Tart Cherries and to eat them raw, or mixed with other foods (such as yogurt). You can also drink tart cherry juice, just make sure that it’s concentrated juice.
Another option would be our Micro Melatonin supplement. We combine a small, gentle dose of Melatonin with natural Tart Cherry extract. In addition to helping to increase your Melatonin supplies, the Tart Cherry in our Micro-Melatonin gives a fantastic flavor to our tablet!
Supplements + Herbs That Help To Promote Sleep
Different herbal medicines have been used for thousands of years. Read more about which ones work below.
Melatonin, called the hormone of darkness, is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, that helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm. Simply put, Melatonin tells your body when to go to sleep. As we age, our bodies tend to produce less and less melatonin. This can lead to sleepless nights (source).
Consider supplementing with a high quality Melatonin supplement. One thing to be aware of is that smaller dosages tend to be better. Your body only needs a slight nudge. Check out our Micro Melatonin product, a low dosage Melatonin product perfect for those looking for a gentler result.
Over half of the US population is deficient in Magnesium (source). It is is one of the most important and well-known minerals for human health, it is naturally calming and helps relax heart, muscle, and nerve cells
Magnesium also directs many other biochemical actions of the body. This makes it a perfect mineral to take before bed. Check out our U-Mag Organic lemon flavored drink!
5-HTP short for (5-hydroxytryptophan) is an amino acid naturally created in your body by converting Tryptophan.
The reason 5-HTP is useful for your body is that, once it’s ingested, it gets converted into two important important chemicals — serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the “happy molecule” for its role in supporting a positive mood. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate your body’s internal sleep/awake clock.
While 5-HTP can be created “in-house” (or in your body), sometimes it is best to increase your levels via supplementation. Supplementary 5-HTP is usually sourced from Griffonia Seed, which comes from a plant found in Africa named Griffonia simplicifolia.
Interestingly enough, new research shows that combining 5HTP with GABA (see below) helped to decrease sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) and increase sleep duration. Our Stay Asleep product includes both 5-HTP and GABA.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in the human brain. GABA is known as the brain's own calming agent and is naturally produced in the body. By supporting a naturally balanced level of brain stimulation, GABA's presence within the central nervous system may help promote feelings of relaxation and calmness.
GABA is available in food form through various kinds of fermented foods (such as Kimchi and different types of cheeses). GABA is also available in a supplement form. The best form is a clinically studied, branded ingredient called PharmaGABA®. You can ready more about PharmaGABA and its benefits here. We include PharmaGABA in our relaxing sleep support supplement Stay Asleep.
L-Theanine, also simply called “Theanine”, is almost solely found in green tea leaves. It is known for inducing calming, tranquilizing effects while simultaneously improving mental alertness (source)
The best form of Theanine is Suntheanine®. Suntheanine® is a 100% pure form of L-Theanine, and is viewed as being the leading brand for L-Theanine supplementation. Suntheanine is also the most researched form of L-Theanine, with multiple human clinical trials backing it. Suntheanine® is included in our Stay Asleep natural sleep aid supplement
Have a great tip or product that you think should be on this list? Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be glad to hear your suggestion! If you are looking for more sleep suggestions, you can click here for more top natural sleep tips.
Daniel Powers is a health and fitness enthusiast with a background in the supplement industry. Outside of work, Daniel enjoys Crossfit, reading large books, and drinking coffee.