Kris Carr

Kris Carr


Sleep Hygiene: The Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep

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Hiya Gorgeous!

When I talk with people about their biggest health challenges, there’s one thing I hear about more than anything else: Sleep! People either aren’t getting enough sleep or what they do get is restless and leaves them exhausted. It’s getting in the way of their work, their health—their entire lives.

Poor sleep hygiene is far more common than you might think. 20-40% of adults struggle with it in some way. In America alone, between 50–70 million people suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.

You can probably relate to this challenge on some level. Most of us know how stressful it can be to toss and turn through even one night of unrestful sleep, and many of us experience it regularly—if not every night.

Here’s the important thing to remember: We can get better sleep! It’s totally possible—I swear! That’s why I put together this guide. If you’re dreaming of uninterrupted sleep, let’s tackle sleep health together, shall we?

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  • Quality sleep impacts cognitive function, emotional well-being, enhances immune function, and reduces the risk of chronic illnesses.
  • The amount of sleep you need depends on your age, sex, lifestyle, and current health but usually between 7.5-8 hours does the job.
  • You can improve your sleep by creating a schedule, following a routine, optimizing your environment, focusing on your physical health, and eating the right foods.
  • Check with your doctor to make sure a sleep disorder isn’t impacting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

What is Good Sleep Hygiene?

You might be wondering what I mean when I say “sleep hygiene.” This term refers to the habits that promote high-quality rest, and I think that’s the perfect way for us to start thinking about quality sleep. Our bodies recover from the day during those precious overnight hours, so we need to start seeing sleep as something we mindfully take care of—as a priority that’s key to our overall health.

Why Quality Sleep Matters

Good sleep hygiene is crucial for overall health and well-being. It significantly impacts physical health, cognitive function, and emotional stability. Consistent, quality sleep supports the body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate, enhancing immune function and reducing the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity​.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, good sleep hygiene also improves cognitive performance, including memory, problem-solving skills, and creativity. It aids in maintaining concentration and reducing the likelihood of accidents and errors. Emotionally, proper sleep helps regulate mood and mitigate stress, anxiety, and depression.

One of the most restorative functions of sleep has to do with a neurotransmitter called adenosine. While we’re awake, our neurons fire and cells power us through the day, which produces adenosine. It builds up all day long, leading to a decrease in dopamine—the neurotransmitter that keeps us alert and focused. So as adenosine goes up, dopamine goes down, resulting in that sleepy feeling you get at night.

While we sleep, we clear adenosine from our bodies and start fresh in the morning, feeling alert (study). The more sleep you get, the lower the level of adenosine and the more alert you’ll feel in the morning.

What are the Signs of Poor Sleep Hygiene?

Are you getting enough sleep? Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s time to look at your sleep health. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Experiencing non-restorative sleep (where you wake up feeling tired)

Daytime symptoms may include:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired memory

Sleep deprivation can also lead to reliance on stimulants like caffeine to stay awake during the day and feeling sleepy during activities that require alertness, such as driving.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The number of hours you should sleep depends on your age, sex, lifestyle, current health and simply how you feel. So it’s different for everyone, but usually between 7.5-8 hours does the job.

When it comes to sleep timing, the most restorative window is typically between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. because your circadian rhythm is likely at its lowest point. Your circadian rhythm is influenced by your environment—namely light.

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What is a Circadian Rhythm?

A circadian rhythm is your body’s internal 24-hour clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature, and other important functions. It responds primarily to light and darkness in your environment, helping to align your biological processes with the natural day-night cycle.

Your circadian rhythm controls many of the physical, mental, and behavioral changes you experience in a 24-hour cycle, including your sleep pattern. Paying attention to your rhythm and going to sleep when you feel drowsy means you’ll hit deep, restorative sleep more rapidly (National Sleep Foundation).

If these numbers make you feel a little panicked, don’t worry. Many of us have trouble getting sufficient Zzzs. That’s why I’m sharing these tips for how to sleep better—because you have more power to set yourself up for sleepy success than you might think.

Below you’ll find some essential resources to help you build (or improve!) your own good sleep hygiene practices.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Healthy sleep habits are key to a good night’s rest.

Tip #1: Set a Sleep Schedule

Creating a schedule that you can stick to can help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. If you feel sleepy but can’t sleep, try these things:

  • Wake up at the same time every day: Waking up at the same time every day and creating sleep patterns for your body to follow may actually help you fall asleep at night.
  • Follow the same routine every night: Get your pajamas on, brush your teeth, wash your face, etc. This nighttime sleep schedule can tell your brain that it’s time to wind down for bed.
  • Avoid taking long naps: Daytime sleep can throw off nighttime sleep. If you need a nap, keep it short and no later than early afternoon.
  • Prioritize sleep: You may be tempted to get “one more thing” done, finish your TV show, or read one more chapter. I get it! But don’t forget that your sleep health is important, too.

Set a new routine gradually and build consistency over time. Remember that your sleep health impacts your daytime energy and functioning.

Tip #2: Follow a Sleep Routine

Here’s the important thing to keep in mind: What we do in the hours leading up to bedtime can have a huge impact on the length and quality of our rest. If you want to set yourself up for healthy sleep, try one of these practices to wind down:

  • Unplug your devices: Put down your devices at least an hour before bed. I know it can be hard to stop scrolling and shut off the news, but don’t underestimate the importance of this advice. If you have to look at a screen, try Night Shift (for Apple) products or a program like f.lux to adjust the color temperature of your displays to let your eyes rest.
  • Journal: If you’re tossing and turning after switching the lights off, you may need to hit the mental reset button. Why not try journaling? Get those thoughts on paper and out of your head.
  • Try meditation: Listen to a guided meditation or try Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique tutorial here).
  • Take a bath: Did you know that temperature is related to sleep? Taking a hot bath before bedtime can raise your core body temperature. When your temperature drops as you prepare for bed, it tricks your body into thinking it’s time to turn in.
  • Don’t let yourself toss and turn: If you can’t fall asleep after lying in bed for 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing (stretch, read, walk) for 15-30 minutes before returning to bed. (It’s best not to stay in bed frustrated because doing so can actually train your brain to see your bed as an unrestful place).

Tip #3: Optimize Your Room

A dialed-in sleep environment can help you fall asleep faster and rest better. Here are some things to try:

  • Use a comfortable mattress and pillow: Investing in a quality mattress and soft bedding can eliminate common sleep disruptors, like squeaky springs or scratchy fabrics, and create a more restful environment. If you need help finding the perfect mattress for you, check out my guide on the comfiest, most sustainable options.
  • Set your room at a cooler temperature: The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 65–68 degrees. Your body temperature naturally decreases when you’re sleeping. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, decrease your room temperature before bed.
  • Block out light: If your room isn’t completely dark, consider a sleep mask or room-darkening curtains. Darkness boosts melatonin, a natural hormone that promotes sleep and can fight cancer.
  • Turn off the TV: Light—blue light in particular—can reduce your body’s natural melatonin production, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, sleeping with the TV on typically leads to poor sleep quality and other sleep problems.
  • Try using essential oils: Natural plant extracts have lots of wonderful uses, and a few in particular are great for helping you relax and get to sleep at night (lavender, sage, and ylang-ylang).
  • Turn on soothing sounds: Use a sound machine or a fan to drown out noise that may be preventing you from falling asleep within 15 minutes of lying down. Certain types of music, such as binaural beats, may also help you relax and let go of racing thoughts.

Tip #4: Focus on your Physical Health

Healthy sleep habits include things that you should focus on during the day:

  • Don’t smoke: It’s well-known that nicotine use is bad for your health, but it can also disrupt sleep, too. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be one more reason to cut the habit.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption: For some people, alcohol can make you sleepy, but it’s actually linked with frequent waking and keeps you from restful sleep.
  • Get your body moving: Physical activity during the day has a host of health benefits, including improved sleep at night.
  • Avoid sleep medicine when possible: Dr. Frank Lipman points out that sleep medicine can be addictive and make insomnia worse over time. These medications also fail to address the root problem you’re struggling with.
  • Cut down the caffeinated drinks: Caffeine makes it harder to fall asleep, but it doesn’t stop there—it can also interfere with the quality of your rest. If you’re having trouble getting or staying asleep, stick to one cup of coffee early in the morning or try herbal tea.
  • Eat dinner early in the evening: A heavy meal before bed may leave your body busy with digestion instead of focusing on sleep.
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex: You want to associate your bed with the two activities that should be happening there: sleep and sex. Keep anything else out of the bedroom.

Tip #5: Try Foods to Help You Sleep

Quality sleep starts with quality food. You heard that right—what you eat during the day has a whole lot to do with a good night’s sleep! What foods can help you sleep?

  • Try tart cherry juice, goji berries, or raspberries in the evening. They all naturally contain melatonin!
  • Snack on a handful of almonds or walnuts, which are also naturally packed with melatonin.
  • Bananas, pineapple, and oranges contain melatonin AND help boost the body’s production of it!
  • A high-carb meal can boost serotonin and melatonin production.

You can learn more about the connection between food and your circadian rhythms, and how serotonin and melatonin work together to help you get enough rest in my guide to the Top 5 Food Tips That’ll Help You Sleep.

Do You Have a Sleep Disorder?

If you’ve implemented these healthy sleep habits and you’re still experiencing problems sleeping, it may be time to talk to a professional. Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts your health in numerous ways—and undiagnosed sleep disorders may be the culprit.

Even if you’re not overly concerned about your sleep, underlying issues like sleep apnea could be silently endangering your health. Take a proactive step towards a healthier future by discussing your sleep patterns with your doctor and getting tested if needed.

Take the First Step toward Better Sleep

You’ve got a big, beautiful life to live, sweetheart! You deserve some healthy sleep so you’ve got plenty of energy and vitality to go after what you want. Take care of your wonderful self by investing in your sleep hygiene and you’ll see the benefits for years to come.

Your turn: Do you ever struggle with sleep? Which tips will you try to improve your sleep hygiene? Let me know in the comments below!

Peace and restful Zzzs,

Add a comment
  1. Elliott says:

    Great! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, my wife and daughter both liked it, which made me happy. Thanks for your recipe!

  2. Marina says:

    Thank you for your post. I snore quite loudly, does that mean my body is not well?

    • Janine, Team Crazy Sexy says:

      Marina, it would be a great idea to get a sleep test to see how your body is sleeping. Good luck!

  3. Geek Squad says:

    Having enough sleep is vital for every human being out there. So, thanks for sharing this ultimate guide and tips for better sleep with your visitors. Your content is well organized and loved the overall look of your blog.You’re doing an amazing job. I will visit you soon.

  4. Amber says:

    I would like to read the linked post that looks like it should be under the food and sleep section, but the link seems to be missing. Is there a way to read it? Thanks

  5. So much informative & lovely article. Look like I have got my solutions. Thanks a lot. Keep this up.

  6. I am also not take much sleep due to my work load. But I want to take Better sleep.Thank you for Sharing this beautiful content with us.

  7. Yes, you are right. I can’t take much sleep because of work so I am always like feel stressed and irritated. Taking sleep time is very important for our health and also the day to day routine. Thanks for sharing such a great post.

  8. I’m kinda a easy sleeper. I just have poor sleeps when I do have problems spinning around my heads that I cannot solve them or get stuck by them 🙂 Nice advices! Thanks for sharing <3
    – Natalie Ellis

  9. Patricia Brown says:

    Thank you!!! Yes I’m having real frustration with my sleep pattern. It’s really wonky, off track, etc. I appreciate your help.

    • kris says:

      Sorry to hear you’re struggling with sleep, Patricia. I hope some of these tips help so you can get some good rest soon. Sending you hugs and Zzzs! xo, kc

  10. Libby says:

    I’m sure you get asked 1000 times and then some, but curious if you have any input as to a quality mattress/pillow? Thanks much!!!!

    • kris says:

      Hey Libby! Great question. I know how hard it can be to choose a mattress and bedding that’s right for you—especially since we all have our own unique preferences when it comes to sleep. I’ve always found the National Sleep Foundation to be a great resource, so I might check out their site to see if they’ve got any advice.

      When you’re shopping, I do suggest keeping an eye out for toxins that might be lurking in mattresses, pillows, etc. Flame retardants, boric acid, formaldehyde, antimony and synthetic latex are the biggies to look out for. I certainly I sleep better when I know I’m not being exposed to anything nasty! Here’s a post I did about cleansing your home of toxins just in case you want to learn more about this subject:

      Hope this helps! xo, kc

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