Well-Being//

9 Tweaks to Your Nighttime Routine That Will Improve Your Sleep

Here are simple ways to get higher-quality rest.

Mikayla Elliot / EyeEm / Getty Images
Mikayla Elliot / EyeEm / Getty Images

Sleep deprivation levels are rising nationally, which serves as yet another reminder of how vital it is to actively prioritize better rest. What you do before you go to bed can have a significant impact. So we asked members of the Thrive Global community to share tweaks they’ve made to their nighttime routines that gave them more time to sleep — and that helped them get better rest. Which method will you try?

Turn off all technology an hour before bedtime

“For me, it’s all about keeping distractions to a minimum: no phone, and definitely no TV. I don’t even look at my computer or notifications for at least an hour before bedtime. I try to get my sleep as early as possible at night. It’s amazing how our bodies adjust to a set schedule — that’s been my favorite discovery.”

—E. Nina Rothe, freelance journalist, New York, NY

Start a journaling practice

“I journal every day, including after my evening shower. I find it helpful to dump everything on paper so I can sort through it once it’s all out. I enjoy writing out my thoughts by hand, while listening to background music. I also set my phone and iPad to charge at 9 p.m., and don’t look at them again until the morning. Once I’m ready to go to bed for the evening, I read for a while, and this often sends me off.”

—Janice Taylor, career coach, Brighton, U.K.

Apply lavender oil before hitting the sheets

“Occasionally, I have sleepless nights — sometimes three or four of them in a row. But my daughter recently introduced me to lavender oil, which I now put on my chest before climbing into bed. It works! Its pleasant scent helps me think positive thoughts as I begin my slow breathing routine. This is an inexpensive way to get back my brain-building time!”

—Leatha Ritchie, leadership development consultant, Raleigh, NC

Meditate before bedtime

“Due to my experience with burnout and lack of sleep, I’ve had to make some changes to improve my health and effectiveness as a husband, dad, and employee. The best change I’ve made is shutting all electronic devices two hours before sleeping, and then also meditating for five to 10 minutes before bedtime. This routine has helped me to clear my mind and experience more restful sleep.”

—Andreas Jones, senior IT director, Atlanta, GA

Create a peaceful mood

“I advise spoiling the senses: Create a mood with dim lighting three hours before bed — lighting candles or using essential oils always feels special. Play relaxing music or tones, and enjoy a warm beverage two hours before bed. And take a hot Epsom salt bath one hour before sleep.”

—Julie Westervelt, restorative yoga teacher and founder, Austin, TX

Prepare for the next day by 8 p.m.

“The most recent, effective tweak to my routine has been being more accountable. My boyfriend and I make sure that by 8 p.m, everything is prepared for the next day. We pack lunches, prep coffee, cook and clean up dinner, and pick out work clothes in the evenings after work. Then, we get into bed at 8 p.m. and use that space as the environment where we catch up and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve already prepared our bodies for winding down, so this routine actually grants us anywhere from an extra ten minutes to an hour of sleep by letting our bodies decide when to shut down completely.”

—Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA

Shield yourself from distracting lights

“A few months ago, I read a study about how much LED lights disrupt our sleep. That night when I went to bed and turned out the lights, I was amazed by how much light my phone charger, TV, and soundbar emitted. Even the power surge protector glowed enough to be seen. They were so noticeable that I actually got out of bed and covered them with black tape. What a difference! Now I fall asleep quicker, sleep deeper, and wake up faster.”

—Todd Garrett, marketing, Nashville, TN

Pack lunch while making dinner

“I’ve used a few hacks to both improve my sleep and feel less rushed in the morning. As I’m prepping dinner, I also prep my lunch and snacks, and plan for any priority tasks and meetings the following day. I’ve also been building a stronger nighttime routine: I avoid social media and work emails during the last hour before bed, and I like to read during that time — preferably something fictional so my mind can unwind. I also try to shut everything down by about 10 p.m., so I can sleep for eight hours and feel less stressed out the next day. This has helped me get more rest and feel refreshed in the morning.”

—Kathryn Djordjevic, pharmacist, Toronto, Canada

Pull out your workout clothes the night before

“Two simple things help me save time in the morning so I can get a few more minutes of sleep. I program my coffee maker the night before so that it will brew before I get up. This saves me a few minutes, and the ready coffee gives me an incentive to get out of bed. I also set out my workout clothes the night before so I have one less decision to make in the morning.”  

—Michelle M., corporate retail, Rhinelander, WI

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