If you’ve spent many a night counting sheep, then it’s likely that you’ve looked at how you can improve your sleep.
In this post we will look into your downtime, how the day’s thoughts catch up on you and what to do, and how to transform your
With the simple techniques that follow, you will learn to leave behind the day’s agitation and lay the foundation for a healthy sleep.
Many of these practices are simple sleep hygiene, and you may already be familiar with some of them.
The important thing is that they prepare us to let go of our day.
For example, forget that e-mail or that conversation which bothered us, or the worry of having been late for an appointment.
They will allow us to send an important message to the most primitive and childlike parts of our brain: By the time we go to bed, we are safe.
Table of Contents
How can you improve your sleep? Stop counting your sleep time
Not timing your sleep may seem incidental.
However, many of us, used to control during the day, forget that in order to sleep well, we must first let go and trust.
It may sound trite, but keeping track of the time at night and thinking about how much sleep we have left is linked to something deeper.
An imperative need to be in control of our lives at all times. In reality, there are many things in life that we do not control.
For example, waking up at night is normal and comes from survival reflexes inherited from our evolution.
What is not normal is to think once you are awake, which is the final thing that wakes you up.
This leaves one conscious and worried, wondering: What time is it really? How many hours do I have left to sleep?
How will I feel tomorrow? How am I going to get through everything that’s ahead of me?
The simple fact of looking at your alarm clock can trigger a cascade of fears.
That’s not what you need to get enough and real restful sleep.
No one, even an all-around sleeper, needs to measure their sleep, mentally calculating in the middle of the night or think about anything else.
For more tips to fall asleep, check out How to fall asleep fast? Tips to get a good night’s sleep.
Clear your mind
Going to bed with the day’s worries on your mind will not help you sleep, so how can you improve your sleep after a bad day?
Either your thoughts will continue to flow, or, after falling asleep, you will wake up in the middle of the night only to experience those worries again.
To clear your day before going to bed, simply grab a sheet of paper and a pen and list what you have to do the next day. Write everything down.
Ideally, do this before you leave work, or at least two or three hours before bedtime, so you can really it all behind.
With this simple technique, you are preparing to enter another part of your life, the private sphere.
Even ten minutes can be enough time to let go of your workday and refocus in your heart and mind, reminding you of what is important and what is not.
Too many people bring work and its worries home with them.
In public transport, in traffic jams, look around and you will see it on people’s faces: people have physically left work but mentally they are still immersed in it.
No wonder some people have so much trouble communicating with their families when they get home and can’t sleep.
If our mind is still cluttered with household worries, challenges or concerns about the future, we might as well take the time to write it all down.
Before you go to bed, write down everything that worries you, without censoring yourself.
Otherwise you will find these thoughts in the middle of the night.
They will be transformed into nightmares by our subconscious which, with its creativity, amplifies them and makes them more terrible than necessary.
Ideally, write this list somewhere other than your bedroom, long enough before you go to bed. As much as possible, your room should remain a sanctuary.
Can you improve your sleep by transforming your bedroom into a sleeping sanctuary?
Look at your room (or visualize it if you’re not in it right now) and feel what comes out of it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you feel about it?
- What smell dominates?
- What does it look like?
- What can you hear when going to bed?
- Do you feel calm and at peace?
- Do you feel safe there?
It’s about using your own feelings to determine what works for you.
Creating a sleep sanctuary is crucial if you are a sensitive sleeper especially to noise, vision and odor (see here).
So: is your sleeping space messy, cluttered? Are the colors restful, or bright and stimulating to excess?
Are there items in your room that remind you of work (piles of books and papers, laptop and other electronics)?
Is there a TV? Stocks of laundry, children’s toys?
Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation
The first thing you need to do is clean the bedroom, empty it and nicely put away all the things lying around.
Make sure work, like the laundry basket or children’s toys, stays outside, or at least out of sight.
If a reminder of the day is the last thing you see before bed, it is obviously less easy to leave the day behind and fall asleep.
The same goes for screens (TV, tablet, computer and cell phone): it is better to remove them from the room.
What about the temperature in your room? In general, the ideal temperature is considered to be around 65°F, but the important thing is your own preference.
The same goes for the darkness in the room: what relaxes you and makes you feel safe?
Some sleep experts recommend complete darkness, even if it means adding blackout curtains to the shutters. It’s up to you: you’ll easily find the solution that suits you.
Let’s move on to the sense of smell. Did you know that the smell in your room can help you sleep, or prevent you from sleeping?
If you’re interested in other facts and figures about sleep, read our other article Did you know facts about sleep: Principles & Solutions.
Try essential oils, looking for those that soothe and reassure you. Again, this is a personal question.
Lavender, for example, is said to be calming and sleep-inducing, but do you really like the smell? If not, avoid it. It’s as simple as that.
What scents do you associate with tranquility and rest? Test different oils or diffusers until you find what brings you a feeling of relaxation and peace.
By the way, don’t forget about the quality of your bed (your mattress, your preferably heavy-duty & reliable bed frame, your pillows, a down comforter, etc.).
Pay attention to your guest room too
Of course, this not only applies to your own bed, but also to that of any guests who occasionally spend the night in the guest room.
Read everything you need to know about such convenient guest room beds on our overview of excellent bunk beds for heavier people and on our overview of best rollaway beds for plus-size people.
How can you improve your sleep? Conclusion
How can you improve your sleep? In short:
- Don’t obsess over the time, it only makes things worse
- Clear your head, de-stress and forget your worries (try to practice mindfulness!)
- Unclutter your bedroom so you can really relax