Tips for Better Sleep

  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day including the weekends. Don't sleep in or try to "catch up" on sleep.

  2. Be careful about napping, which can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. If you do nap limit it to 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon.

  3. Manage light exposure by exposing yourself to bright light early in the morning (you might consider a dawn simulator) and limiting exposure to light, especially bright and/or blue light, 1-2 hours before bedtime (you can use apps such as flux for your computer, adjust the settings on your phone, or wear blue light glasses). Also try to get as much natural light during the daytime as possible.

  4. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark! It can be helpful to use blackout curtains, a fan, earplugs, or a sound machine; there are even apps like Rain Rain Sleep Sounds that can help!

  5. Exercise! Make sure you are active during the day and try not to do vigorous exercise near bedtime; however, gentle exercise such as yin yoga could help.

  6. Limit caffeine to the mornings. Caffeine can interfere with sleep up to 12 hours after consumption! Some people are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine so be careful about hidden sources such as chocolate.

  7. Avoid alcohol before bed! While alcohol can help people fall asleep, alcohol interferes with the quality of sleep.

  8. Avoid large, spicy meals at night and cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs. If you need a nighttime snack try something like yogurt or a banana.

  9. Do some deep breathing or a body scan to wind down at night.

  10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex. I know how tempting it is to stay up watching Netflix or TikTok videos, but these are not great practices for sleep!

  11. If you are having trouble sleeping, make relaxation the goal. Sometimes focusing on not sleeping can generate anxiety and make it more difficult to fall alseep. Instead of doing this, affirm that you are resting and try a mindfulness exercise to relax.

  12. If you have been awake for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed and do a nonstimulating activity such as reading, but be careful about backlit devices!

  13. If you notice a lot of worry before bedtime, try journaling to get your thoughts out to help prepare yourself for sleep.

While I encourage clients to implement these types of changes before turning to sleep aids, they can be helpful! You can learn more about them here. Helpguide.org, my favorite online resource, has a number of articles on sleep, which you can find here. The National Sleep Foundation is another excellent resource; they have a very helpful sleep diary you can use to help monitor and change your habits here.


If you are interested in learning more or in working with me please go to my homepage to contact me or schedule your free 15-minute phone call.

Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care. If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.

© 2020 Carissa Gustafson, Psy.D.  All rights reserved.