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Tips for Better Sleep

Tips for Better Sleep

Sleep is fundamental in maintaining both physical and mental health, and a lack of sleep can have negative effects on mood, cognition and motor function! In short, you need sleep to function properly. The best way to improve your sleep quality is through proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the practice of behaviours that facilitate sleep and avoiding behaviours that interfere with sleep.  

Lifestyle factors

As with most things, consistency is key and sleep is no exception! Maintaining a regular sleep/wake cycle can help you improve your sleep quality and energy levels during the day! (Win win!) 

Light exposure plays a big role in melatonin production (melatonin is the hormone that signals it’s time for sleep!), melatonin secretion is high at night when it's dark, and low during the day when it's light. Light exposure in the evening can delay normal melatonin production, meaning your regular sleep schedule will shift, and your sleep will be delayed. Therefore it is beneficial to increase your exposure to light during the day and reduce light exposure in the evenings. It is especially important to reduce screen time, as evening blue light exposure is related to significantly lowered evening melatonin levels and suppressed sleepiness.

Exercise is another factor that can affect our sleep. Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality, but if you like hitting the gym at 10pm, I’ve got some bad news for you... Exercising late in the evening or at night can delay sleep, so this should be avoided if you want to fall asleep at a reasonable time. Exercise performed during late afternoon or early evening  is ideal as this can help you fall asleep early and wake up early.

Getting ready for bed

As mentioned previously, it is important to reduce blue light exposure due to its ability to interrupt melatonin production, this means you should probably avoid watching TV and using your phone or laptop in the evening. One study found that listening to soft music at bedtime can improve sleep quality, as it helps with relaxation. So try swapping out your favorite show for some relaxing tunes! Other relaxation techniques that can help you prepare for a deep slumber could be taking a hot bath, yoga or meditation.

It is also advised to avoid having large meals close to bedtime, as this may have a negative impact on sleep quality, specifically affecting sleep duration and longer sleep latency. Alcohol may also have an effect on our sleep quality due to its ability to inhibit melatonin production, so if you want a good night's sleep it might be best to limit your alcohol intake.  

Sleep Environment

Your sleep environment is crucial in optimizing your sleep quality. We have all been woken up in the middle of the night by our noisy neighbor, and it can really ruin a good night's sleep. Your sleep environment should ideally be free of noise and light, and be of a comfortable temperature. You can eliminate light by having blackout curtains and unplug any devices that emit light, even if it’s just the "on button" on the telly. 

If you tend to toss and turn at night, it might be worth investing in a weighted blanket, which has been shown to contribute to a calmer nights sleep, and may be especially useful for those suffering with anxiety. 


Caffeine can help us feel more awake in the day, but unfortunately it can also make it harder to fall asleep in the evening. Caffeine can cause a reduction in 6-sulfatoxymelatonin, the main metabolite of melatonin, this can contribute to reduced melatonin levels, ultimately interrupting normal sleep. Therefore, you might want to make sure to have your final cup of the day no later than 6 hours before your bedtime (again, bad news if you’re a late night gym goer who also loves pre-workout). 

If you need extra help…

So you’ve tried to make all the adjustments to your lifestyle, but still feel that you need a little help? There are plenty of supplements and other remedies that can help!

Did you know cherries are a natural source of melatonin? Sour cherries or Montmorency cherries are often sold in supplement form and are used as a natural melatonin boost.

5-HTP is also often used to help with sleep quality and duration, as it is a precursor to serotonin and can help increase melatonin production. It is often used to treat nightmares, but be mindful that for some people (me included!) frequent nightmares may occur as a result of taking 5-HTP! This is commonly sold in supplement form, but is also a naturally occurring amino acid found in many foods such as turkey, milk, eggs and soy!

A common evening treat which you may have heard of is Chamomile tea. Chamomile has a calming effect and is commonly used as a sleep inducer to treat sleep disorders, nightmares and insomnia. 

As we can see, there are many different ways to improve sleep. What’s important is finding the healthy habits that resonate with you that can be easily incorporated into your routine to ensure you have *perfect* sleep hygiene (even if it involves giving up the evening cup of coffee!)  

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Let us know in the comments below!
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