How to Get a Good Night's Sleep Tonight

“Getting hit with insomnia is a lot like having your heart broken,” write Doctors Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman in The Insomnia Answer. “You feel betrayed and sapped of vitality; what used to flow naturally and effortlessly is now agonizing.” There’s no real secret to a great night’s sleep, they say, but cultivating good habits will have you catching zzzs in no time.

good night sleep

Get Up

Sound counterproductive? Sleeping until noon because you’ve tossed and turned all night might feel good in the moment, but you’ll be paying for it later. Set at alarm and get up at the same time every day, you’ll soon train your body onto a more regular schedule. This goes for naps too: zonking out on the couch after work will do you no favours come midnight.

Go Easy on the Chemicals

Insomnia isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom. Don’t dream that a sleeping pill will somehow fix the problem—though it may work for a short time, you risk long-term chemical dependency. Instead of putting more things in your body, look at what you’re already ingesting: Have you had eight cups of coffee today? A big meal of pasta before bed? Two glasses of wine with dinner? All can cause or irritate insomnia, so pay attention.

Get Moving

It’s a common misconception that exercise before bed will energize you. In fact, a study of highly active young men found that prolonged, vigorous exercise 30 minutes before bedtime had little effect on sleep. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., says “Exercise initially increases such stress hormones. But several hours after a workout, a rebound effect occurs.” Yep, you know what that means: less stress is more sleep.

The Physical Necessities

It’s not all mental practice; some tricks are as easy as going to the drugstore. Warm milk or herbal tea (without caffeine of course) are for many people very effective. A small snack could also help. A good firm mattress—or a soft one, if you like that better—and air-conditioning is a good investment, as are thick curtains, earplugs, a sleep mask, and a clock without a torturous illuminated screen.

Visualize, Visualize, Visualize

Forget counting sheep, new sleep techniques are much more effective. Try progressive relaxation: start at the feet, feel their weight and let them relax and sink into the bed. Move to ankles, repeat. By the time you make your way to your head, you’ll be in la la land. Or if this doesn’t work, there’s always the old backwards-count. Start at a thousand, and count one number between breaths. Good night and good luck.

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Fitness Expert

Written by Fitness Expert

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