Confession time: I’ve dealt with insomnia for most of my life. It’s only been over the last few years that I’ve been able to implement a series of small but powerfully effective changes that’s helped me to get deeper, better quality and more restorative sleep.

So how to get a good night’s sleep? I’m happy to share them with you here, and I hope they can help you wake up well rested and ready to face the day.

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1. Don’t have dinner too late in the evening

My main meal these days is usually lunch. For dinner, I try not to eat past 6 (or 8pm if I’m going out with friends) and even then try to keep the meal lighter as often as possible. This usually means fresh grilled, steamed or baked veggies and lean protein such as seafood or chicken. Stay away from fried foods if possible. Studies from the National Institutes of Health in the US have shown that eating too late at night may adversely affect both your quality of sleep and the natural release of HGH and melatonin, both of which play a crucial role in maintaining your body’s circadian rhythms (aka your Internal Clock).

2. Try a White Noise machine

These inexpensive gadgets are especially beneficial for light sleepers who stir at just about any ambient noise. A garbage truck passes by outside? Oops, you’re awake. Your neighbor slams a door? Dammit, you’re awake! You get the drift. This Avantek white noise machine comes with a range of deluxe features such as 20 different types of sounds (including 6 types of white noise), perpetual sound or timers and a headphone jack.

(via Amazon)

3. Avoid caffeine later in the day

I love tea and coffee, but if I have a cup in the afternoon, it’s going to be hard for me to fall and stay asleep. Of course this will vary depending on your tolerance, but I personally limit myself to no more than two cups before noon. If you do have a hankering for some later in the day, have decaf or an herbal tea.

4. Avoid screens before bed

Blue light exposure before sleep also adversely affects your circadian rhythms and inhibits melatonin production. Try to avoid looking at your mobile phone before bed. If you must use your laptop or computer before going to sleep, download the free f.lux app to cancel out blue light and “warm” your screen in the evening in accordance with what time it is.


5. Blackout curtains or blinds

My husband and I invested in a set of blackout blinds for our bedroom when we bought our apartment and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one the best things we’ve ever spent money on. If you’re not quite ready for that sort of investment, these blackout curtains are under $35 and promise to not only block light out, but help insulate your room in cold weather. They come in 10 sizes and dozens of colors, so you’re sure to find one that’s a great fit. These are in my bedroom at my parent’s house.

(via Amazon)

6. Try supplements or medication

Be sure to speak with your medical professional about potential side effects or interactions with any other medication you may be taking.

Melatonin, magnesium, lavender and valerian root can all help you improve sleep quality.

Some recommended doses from peer-reviewed studies by the NIH are:

Melatonin: 1-5 mg an hour before bed. It’s recommended to start low and gradually increase your dosage if necessary.

Magnesium: 500 mg before bed. If you don’t like swallowing pills, this magnesium citrate supplement powder comes in a lemon-raspberry as well as 6 other flavors.

Lavender: 80-160 mg before bed

Valerian Root: 500 mg before bed

Check for a supplement that has high absorption and bio-availability before purchasing.

7. Avoid alcohol before bed

Another circadian rhythm disruptor, while having a nip of booze before bed might initially help you feel more relaxed and even tired, it’s been consistently linked with more fitful and poor quality sleep in many studies. It can alter melatonin and HGH production, and can exacerbate symptoms in those suffering from sleep apnea.

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8. Increase exposure to bright light during the day

This has been proven to boost melatonin and HGH and keep your circadian rhythms on the right track. If you’re unable to get much natural light in the daytime due to a poorly lit work environment or other similar conditions, consider a desktop light therapy light. This one is compact enough to take up barely any space and sleek enough look like just another well-designed lamp.

(via Amazon)

9. Invest in a high quality mattress and pillows

Admittedly one of the more expensive solutions, but one that has among the most benefits. If buying a new mattress isn’t an option right now, buying a good quality ergonomic foam pillow as well as a weighted blanket could go a long way toward improving your sleep.

A memory foam mattress topper can also be a good solution for those not yet ready to invest in a new mattress.

(via Amazon)

10. Get regular exercise

Keeping your body moving has a plethora of documented benefits, better sleep being among them. While the jury is still out on whether exercising later in the evening can help or hinder sleep, this might be one you have to figure out based on your own physiology. For some, the stimulatory effect from increased epinephrine and adrenaline after a workout can hinder sleep. For others, something as simple as a relaxed half hour walk can help set the stage for a restful night’s sleep. Either way, getting your body moving will lead to better sleep, it just might depend on what time you’re exercising.

11. Clear your mind before bedtime

Yes, I know this one is most definitely easier said that done, but it’s worth the effort. This is another instance where white noise or soothing sleep sounds can help. A few times on particularly stressful days, I’ve enjoyed falling asleep to YouTube videos from Micheal Sealy such as this one:

Also helpful can be calming breathing exercises or meditation apps such as Headspace.

12. See a medical professional

If after building new habits you’re still having difficulty sleeping, a visit to a specialist to rule out sleep disorders could be beneficial and what you need to be well rested and get healthy sleep.

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What are your favorite ways to help get a good night’s sleep? Share in the comments below!