Being unable to enjoy a good night’s rest can be harmful to both your mental and physical health. It can negatively impact your productivity along with a host of other possible causes and types of sleeping issues.

Rather than spend time analyzing all of the probabilities, we will instead focus on a couple of good sleeping habits that can help you improve both the quantity and the quality of your sleep. Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to change all your habits at once. Start with one or two of the tips below and gradually work down the list until one day (or rather one night), you realize that you’ve finally mastered the gentle art of having a good night’s sleep.

Make Sure That Your Bedroom Is a Place of Relaxation and Comfort

One of the easiest and most effective tips to help you enjoy some quality rest is to ensure that your bedroom is a place of relaxation and comfort. Start with the mattress and pillows. If you tend to have frequent backaches and headaches each morning, or if your bedding is uncomfortable, make it a goal to replace them. This will ensure that you remain comfortable and asleep all night long.

Screen Out Background Light and Noise

Before civilization had clocks, people typically slept until sunrise and went back to sleep once it became dark. Turning down the lights can prompt sleepiness and will keep your body in sync with nature’s circadian rhythm.

Also, block out any excess light that can interfere with uninterrupted sleep. And if street lights outside your bedroom window disturb your sleep, or the sun shines brightly into the room in the early morning hours, purchase blackout blinds, additional lining or heavier curtains.

The same rule applies to background noises. If you can not do anything about your partner’s snoring, invest in some earplugs or wear headphones. And finally, a calming scent (for example, lavender oil) can go a long way to help you relax and fall asleep faster.

Don’t Let Your Eating and Drinking Habits Interfere With Your Sleep

Refrain from overeating before bed, but also ensure you are not going to bed too hungry. Large, heavy meals an hour or so before your bedtime can create discomfort and keep you awake as well as produce hunger pains. It is also best to avoid having liquids after a certain time to keep you from having to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

Make sure to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine close to bedtime. Their stimulating effects can take a long time to wear off and can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. A short note on alcohol: it might initially make you sleepy, but later in the night, it will most likely disrupt your sleeping patterns.

Also, ingesting too many sugar-filled foods before bed is also not a good idea. The reason being that at first the boost in sugar will give you an energy spike with a crash to follow. This can wreak havoc on your body’s internal clock.

Research also indicates that people who do not sleep well tend to consume more junk food the following day. This can eventually create a cycle that starts with a poor diet, which is followed by a poor night’s sleep, which is then followed by another lousy diet the following day.

On the other hand, eating the right kinds of food can help improve your sleep. Certain foods are particularly useful in this regard, such as chicken, milk, pumpkin seeds, and turkey. The reason is that these foods contain serotonin and tryptophan, both of which play a significant role in producing the hormone melatonin. That, in turn, helps us to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Have a Sleep Schedule and Stick to It

Experts recommend that individuals should strive to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep. Some people may need a bit more, but most only need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

What is important here is that you should try to go to bed at approximately the same time every day and wake up at the same time every morning. This will help to reinforce what is known as your ‘sleep-wake’ cycle. If you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something else, like listening to soothing music or reading. As soon as you feel yourself getting sleepy, go back to bed. Repeat these steps if necessary.

Make Sure That You Get Enough Exercise and Fresh Air Every Day

Regular exercise has been shown to help most people to sleep better. However, do not overdo it. For example, running two hours before bedtime might have the opposite effect. Making sure you spend time outside every day is another proven way to help you relax and put you in the right frame of mind for a good night’s sleep.

Make Time to Relax Before Going to Bed

Millions of people suffer from sleep problems that are caused by stress, so it is crucial to set aside an hour or so to relax prior to bed. Whether you read a book, take a warm bath, or listen to relaxing music.

Even keeping the day’s worries in mind might cause you to grind your teeth. Instead, journal your thoughts and concerns in hopes that tomorrow will bring a new opportunity to address them. Create the habit of becoming more organized by focusing on delegating certain tasks and drawing up a priority list to force you to concentrate on the crucial things.

Accept That Technology Doesn’t Always Mix Well with Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Now, many would like to avoid hearing this, but if you want to sleep well, you will have to ban your TV, computer, tablet, and smartphone from your bedroom. In fact, you should switch them off around one hour before bed. These devices discharge a blue light which has been shown to suppress melatonin – a hormone that plays an essential role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Do Not Check the Time Every 5 Minutes If You Can’t Sleep

Being deeply worried about not getting enough sleep is actually a great way to make sure that you will not fall asleep. If you find it very difficult to stop checking the time every few minutes, try to turn the clock around or place it out of reach. Also, remind yourself that relaxing in bed and thinking positive thoughts is a more productive way to spend time than non-stop tossing, turning, and watching the time drag on.

Understand That the Quality of Your Sleep Is as Important as The Quantity

Do not merely concentrate on how long you sleep. When it comes to improving sleep, the quality of sleep is just as essential. Humans go through 5 different sleep stages during a typical sleep cycle. During the final stages of this cycle, information is being processed, and your memories are being consolidated. If you get up several times every night to go to the bathroom (for example), it can disrupt your sleep cycle so severely that it never reaches these final stages.