12 Steps to Take for Your Best Night’s Sleep

You know how a good night’s sleep versus a bad night’s sleep can set the tone of your entire day. But how much are you considering your sleep during your waking hours? There are several elements of your day that can impact the quality of your sleep. Ready for your best night’s sleep? Here are 12 steps to help you get there.

1. Exercise early

woman jogging in the morning sunCredit: courtneyk/Getty Images

Your journey to your best night’s sleep actually can start early in the day. In general, people who regularly exercise tend to sleep better. But the timing of your workout can matter. “An early morning sweat session may provide the ideal blood pressure reduction, as well as maximize deep sleep, compared with midday or evening workouts,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, strength training at any time of day seems to have benefits for sleep. And for some people, exercising in the evening might help them relax before bed. That’s why it’s important to track your sleep to see what works best for you.

2. Limit naps

As you go about your day, you might start feeling sluggish. But resist the urge to take a nap if you want to sleep well at night. “Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep,” according to Mayo Clinic. “If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.” Of course, some people with atypical schedules or health issues might need naps to ensure they’re getting enough overall sleep. But if you can structure your day where you don’t need to nap, it should promote better sleep come bedtime.

3. Organize your to-do list

Stress and unfinished tasks often keep people up at night. So for your best night’s sleep, try to get through all your necessary work (and worrying) during the daytime hours. And set aside some time before bed to organize your to-do list, so you don’t have tasks running through your head and interrupting your sleep. “Stress management might help,” Mayo Clinic says. “Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety.”

4. Declutter

Wicker laundry basket with neatly folded jeans on the bedCredit: Kristen Prahl/Getty Images

Just like worrying about your to-do list, clutter also can cause stress and impair your sleep. So spend some time each evening tidying up. “Move those dirty clothes to the closet, and make the bed every morning,” Johns Hopkins Medicine says. “Research shows that people who do may sleep better at night.” Moreover, studies have shown decluttering can reduce stress, promote mental focus, increase energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, improve indoor air quality and benefit relationships. And all of those factors can contribute to better sleep.

5. Cut off caffeine and alcohol

Because caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for about six to eight hours, it’s best to cut yourself off several hours before bedtime. “When consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night,” according to Healthline. Likewise, even though it might make you feel drowsy, you won’t sleep well if you drink alcohol before bed. “Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns,” Healthline says. “It also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm.”

6. Skip heavy meals

Even if you feel full and sleepy after a big meal, that doesn’t mean your body will get quality rest. It still has to work to digest all that food. “Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. “If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime.” But hunger can keep you awake, too. So if your stomach is still rumbling around bedtime, it’s OK to reach for a light snack — especially for foods that induce better sleep.

7. Dim the lights

So you’ve gone through your day, and now it’s time to start your wind-down process. Begin by dimming the lights and switching off blue-light devices about two hours before bedtime. Continued light exposure makes your brain think it’s still daytime. In turn, “this reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep,” according to Healthline. But on the flip side, make sure you’re getting enough bright light — preferably natural sunlight — during the day to fully regulate your circadian rhythm.

8. Cool your bedroom

Once you have the lighting taken care of, it’s time to consider the temperature of your bedroom. “Your body temperature naturally drops as you sleep, and most people sleep best in temperatures between 65 and 69 degrees [Fahrenheit],” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. If you tend to sleep hot — or sleep with a partner (or pet) — you might want to outfit your bed with cooling fabrics to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the night. This can help you avoid waking up several times a night in search of that cool side of the pillow.

9. Put pets to bed

bulldog sleeping on a bedCredit: SolStock/Getty Images

There are pros and cons to sharing your bed with pets. Some people find it comforting while others have their sleep negatively impacted. If you’re in the latter camp, it’s important to set up a bedtime routine for your pets that doesn’t include them hopping into your bed. “Pets can be disruptive when you’re trying to sleep, and sharing your bed with a pet can elevate your internal body temperature,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

10. Promote peace

Besides clutter and pets, your bedroom might have several other sleep distractions that you need to control before hitting the pillow. For starters, consider hanging room-darkening window treatments to ensure that light doesn’t wake you before you need to get up. For a peaceful sleep, you also can try using “eye shades, ear plugs, ‘white noise’ machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices,” the National Sleep Foundation says. Plus, you might want to fill your bedroom with a soothing scent, such as lavender, to help relax you.

11. Calm your body and mind

Dimming the lights and organizing your to-do list can help calm your body and mind. But there are several things you can do to further that process at bedtime. Sleep.org suggests sipping chamomile tea to lower anxiety. You also can take a hot bath or shower. “Going from warm water into a cooler bedroom will cause your body temperature to drop, naturally making you feel sleepy,” Sleep.org says. Plus, even though strenuous exercise isn’t ideal, some gentle leg exercises might be relaxing. “Moves like leg lifts and squats help bring flood flow down to your legs; interestingly, this can have a soothing effect and make it easier to drift off,” according to Sleep.org. And finally, as you’re lying in bed waiting for sleep to come, don’t hesitate to count sheep, focus on your breathing or even picture yourself asleep.

12. Get to bed on time

Routine is key for a healthy circadian rhythm. “Go to bed and get up at the same time every day,” Mayo Clinic says. “Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.” It should take you about 20 minutes to fall asleep each night if you’re consistently fulfilling your body’s sleep needs. If you’re frequently having trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. There might be an underlying health issue that needs treatment before you can get your best night’s sleep.

Main image credit: LaylaBird/Getty Images


Maria P
Maria P1 days ago


Mike R
Mike R7 days ago


Kathy K
Kathy K8 days ago


Susan H
Susan H10 days ago


Danuta W
Danuta W11 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle11 days ago

Good advice.

Donna T
Donna T12 days ago

thank you

Danny C
Danny Chan12 days ago

I agree with the first tip. A tough, grueling workout at the gym is a surefire way to ensure a good night's sleep. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn12 days ago

Many thanks to you !

Carol S
Carol S12 days ago

I do them all. Some nights are better than others :)