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65 Sleep Hacks That Actually Work: Backed by Science

by SleePare

By Emily Stringer | 5 Minute Read

Sleep is vital for everyone but many of us have trouble sleeping and don’t get the sleep we need. With 1 in 3 American adults not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, lack of sleep is a serious problem. When we think of sleep problems, we usually think of adults but teens and children can also experience sleep disorders

There are many reasons why we can’t sleep; stress, work, health issues, and other obligations can keep us tossing and turning at night. Fortunately, there are a variety of sleep hacks available for students, parents, working professionals, and everyone in between. Read on to learn how to hack your sleep tonight! 

For more tips, skip to the infographic below.

Sleep Hacks for Professionals 

1. Skip the afternoon coffee: It can be tempting to grab an afternoon pick-me-up from your favorite coffee shop. An afternoon latte can leave you staring at the ceiling later that night. Consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bedtime can impact sleep. 

2. Get the right mattress/sheets: Investing in the proper mattress, sheets, and pillows will make a significant difference in your sleep quality and overall comfort. Choose the mattress and bedding that feels right for you. Even just a small upgrade like a new pillow or soft sheets can mean the difference between a good sleep and great sleep.

3. Get excited about the day ahead: Getting ready for another day of work can be difficult. Make it better by finding something to get excited about in the morning to make things easier. Maybe you want to try a new restaurant at lunch, drive a different route to the office, or maybe you’re planning a fun weekend. Whatever it is, having something to look forward to is an excellent motivator. 

4. Move workouts to the morning: Working out in the morning leads to more productive days and restful nights. By moving your workouts to the a.m. hours, you can regulate circadian rhythms for a healthy sleep schedule. A study from the University of Georgia found that just 10 minutes of exercise promotes wakefulness and alertness better than caffeine. 

5. No work emails after hours: Our work/life balance is almost non-existent with technology and remote work. Setting boundaries for yourself and your job is proven to increase your performance in the workplace, decrease stress, and prevent emotional exhaustion-all of which can impact your sleep.  

6. Block the blue light: There’s no way to avoid not looking at a screen whether you're at home or work. The blue light emitted by screens increases melatonin levels and keeps us awake. Try some blue light blocking glasses while you’re working and/or watching TV to keep your eyes healthy and melatonin levels in check.

7. Plan the next day in advance: Thinking about all the things you need to do the next day can often make it difficult to fall asleep. When you start feeling the stress of the day ahead, make a to-do list of the top tasks you need to accomplish. Writing down your tasks in a list will ease some stress and give you a visual reminder of what’s ahead.

8. Add some color therapy: Color impacts us more than we realize. For example, there’s a reason why our favorite fast food restaurants have red logos; the color is proven to increase excitement and possibly our appetites. This is the last thing we want for our bedrooms. The National Sleep Foundation, the color blue is the best color for bedrooms. Blue creates feelings of calmness and serenity. A Travelodge survey found that people who slept in a blue bedroom slept longer than those who slept in other colored rooms. 

9. If you aren’t sleepy, don’t go to bed: This sounds obvious but forcing yourself to sleep rarely, if ever, works. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed, tossing and turning when you’re even tired. The best thing to do? Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy! Read a comforting book, play an instrument, or listen to some soothing music until you start to nod off. 

10. Eat breakfast: With popular eating trends like intermittent fasting, breakfast isn’t always considered the most important meal of the day. If you find yourself skipping breakfast and you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to grab a bite in the morning. Like our bodies react to sunlight, we react similarly to food. Our bodies have a food-entrainable clock. Linked to our   circadian rhythms, this other body clock associates food with time. When we eat breakfast, it  signals our bodies that we have enough energy to get through the day. 

Sleep Hacks for Parents 

11. Get some sunlight: Going for a walk or opening a window in the morning to get some sun will reset your circadian rhythm and signal to your brain that it's time to start your day. This will help your kids as well! Have a family outing to the park or walk to a nearby restaurant or other location. 

12. Work as a team: The only saying “it takes a village” is still relevant when it comes to raising kids. You and your partner should be responsible for helping the kids get to bed. Bedtime can be a struggle and a stressful time for both kids and parents. Having an extra hand can make the bedtime routine easier for everyone. 

13. Create a bedtime routine: Creating a bedtime routine for your kids will let them know that the nightly ritual means it’s time to go to sleep. A routine will help regulate bedtime and get your kids on a schedule. Having something to look forward to at bedtime, like a bedtime story or playing a game (preferably without screens), will get your kids excited and ready for bed.

14. Adjust bedtimes as needed: As kids grow up and schedules change, bedtime will need to be adjusted. This is especially important for back to school time. Over the summer, parents tend to ease up on strict bed times. To get your kids ready for school and their new wakeup times, slowly readjust bed/wake-up times for a few weeks so everyone will be ready for a new school year when it comes around.

15. Destress away from the kids: Once the kids go to bed, you’re free for a few hours. Take this time to wind down before bed by spending time with your partner, watching TV, reading, listening to music/a podcast, or anything else you might want to do to take your mind off the stress of the day and get ready for bed. 

16. Get intimate with your partner: Your bedroom should only be used for two things; sleep and sex. It’s no secret the two go hand-in-hand. In fact, sex improves your sleep and better sleep improves your sex life. The hormones released during sex- oxytocin and prolactin-can help induce sleep.

17. Ban kids from the bed: Sleeping with your kids might seem like a great way to bond. Extra bodies (and heat) in your bed can disrupt your sleep and cause you to wake up numerous times during the night. Co-sleeping, especially in older children, is proven to cause mental health issues and developmental delays. It’s best for both kids and parents to keep their sleep spaces separate.  

Sleep Hacks for College Students 

18. Take a power nap: Long nights studying and lack of a consistent sleep schedule can leave you groggy during the day. Getting a short power nap during the day is proven to enhance learning and improve memory. It might be tempting to take a longer nap but this can backfire and leave you feeling groggy and worse than before. To get the most out of your power naps, keep them 15-20 minutes long. 

19. No homework in bed: For many students living in cramped apartments and dorms, the only location for doing homework is in bed. When you do your homework in bed, your brain begins to equate the bedroom with school and homework which can lead to sleep anxiety and trouble falling asleep. Instead of writing your paper in bed, go to the library or work at a desk or dining room table. 

20. Stream responsibly: We all want to catch up on the latest true crime doc, catch the latest thriller, or watch the latest episode of our favorite shows. It’s best to avoid watching intense or scary TV shows and movies before bed. Even if you’re a seasoned horror fan or true crime aficionado, intense shows and movies can impact your sleep by raising both your heart rate and adrenaline levels. Streaming before bed? Stick with a favorite sitcom. 

21. Invest in blackout curtains: If you're up too late studying or coming home from a night out with friends, it can be tempting to hit up a drive thru or grab a not-so-healthy snacks. Eating full meals, greasy food, spicy food, or anything too sweet before going to bed can disrupt your sleep-not to mention cause digestive issues. 

22. Skip the late night munchies: If you're up too late studying or coming home from a night out with friends, it can be tempting to hit up a drive thru or grab a not-so-healthy snack. Eating full meals, greasy food, spicy food, or anything too sweet before going to bed can disrupt your sleep-not to mention cause digestive issues. 

23. Reward yourself for waking up: Most of us aren’t morning people and can struggle to wake up. Make your daily wake-up a treat by rewarding yourself with something you enjoy like a cup of coffee, your favorite breakfast, or reading before you start your day. Having something to look forward to every morning will make getting up in the morning easier

24. Don’t give into social pressures: FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful force, especially for college students. Instead of sleeping, it can be tempting to catch up with friends or stay up to date on the latest news. Staying up late texting, scrolling through apps, or consuming distressing news won’t help you get the sleep you need; you can catch up on your notifications in the morning. 

25. Don’t hit the snooze button: Waking up is hard enough-hitting snooze only makes it worse. You might think the extra 10 minutes of shut eye will help, but it’s doing more harm than good. Snoozing will cause your body's internal clock to be thrown off, making you feel groggy all day because your sleep is disrupted in the middle of the sleep cycle. Use a sleep app like Sleep Cycle to track your sleep and wake you up in the lightest stage of sleep so you aren’t groggy for the rest of the day. 

26. Invest in some earplugs: Student life can be loud. From noisy roommates, to parties across the way, or just background noise, all of these disturbances can make it difficult to fall and remain asleep. Get some earplugs to help block out noise and to get some sleep. 

27. Skip the all-nighters: With endless homework assignments, work, and trying to maintain a social life, being a college student can leave little room for free time. Often, students will wait until the last minute to complete assignments or study causing them to pull an all-nighter. Staying up all night and getting no sleep impedes learning, disrupts the sleep cycle, and increases the likelihood of getting sick.  

28. Power down your electronics: It can be hard to put your phone down at any time, let alone before bed. Blue light from phones and other electronics suppresses melatonin and keeps you awake. According to experts, electronics should be put away at least 30 minutes before bed. Hide your phone under the mattress, across the floor, or in another room, and turn off all notifications. 

29. Consider your future health: When we’re young we often don’t consider our future health. The habits we pick up can last a lifetime. By starting healthy habits like exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, staying properly hydrated, and getting the proper amount of sleep when you’re young you are more likely to continue them throughout the rest of your life. Also, you’ll get a jump start on the path to lifelong good health. 

Sleep Hacks for Everyone

30. Banish clutter: A messy room can overwhelm your senses and distract you from the task at hand––sleeping. Keeping your room clean will ensure that you can relax before bed instead of focusing on the mess in your room. 

31. Clean your sheets: Keeping your sheets clean can make your room more inviting and will help you relax knowing you're sleeping on a clean surface. Plus, there's nothing better than the feeling of clean sheets.  Wash your sheets weekly and have an extra pair on hand.  

32. Don’t fall asleep too soon after eating: After eating a big meal, it can be tempting to curl up and fall asleep. Laying down, sleeping, or even both too soon after eating is associated with an increase of acid reflux and GERD symptoms. To prevent these symptoms, it’s best to avoid eating less than 3 hours before bed.

33. Wake up with music: Waking up with your favorite song or happy music is proven to help you wake up faster, in a better mood, and increases reaction time. Make yourself a happy playlist or find one on Spotify and play it in the morning for a boost. 

34. Get the right pillow: Getting the proper pillow will make a huge difference in how you sleep. Everyone's tastes are different, but look for a pillow that supports your neck that you find comfortable and works the best for your body and sleep position.

35. Sip on some tart cherry juice: Tart cherry juice is proven to be a natural sleep aid and has numerous other health benefits. One study found that those who drank two cups of tart cherry juice per day increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. 

36. Relax with some essential oils: Aromatherapy with essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus can help you relax and get to sleep. Try using an essential oil diffuser or spray in your room before bed and you’ll drift off in no time. 

37. Avoid exercise at least two hours before bed: Adding exercise to your routine is vital for good health and keeping your cardiovascular health in check. Exercise can help you sleep if you do it earlier in the day-ideally in the morning. Working out too close to bedtime can leave you staring at the clock. Exercise increases adrenaline which increases your heart rate and can keep you awake. Keep your workouts away from bedtime for the best sleep. 

38. Workout in the morning: Being a morning person isn’t for everyone. Research shows that working out in the morning can boost metabolism, help you more focused throughout the day, and help keep your weight in check. A morning workout will also prevent you from 

39. Try a weighted blanket: This bedding trend has some weight behind it. Weighted blankets have a soothing effect and may help with anxiety, insomnia, serotonin production. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that sleeping with a weighted blanket decreases insomnia symptoms. 

40. Cool down: Ever notice you sleep so much better when your room is cool? That’s because adults have the best quality sleep when the temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find yourself waking up sweating or freezing cold, try adjusting the temperature until you find what’s best for you. 

41. Limit alcohol: While it might be tempting to relax with a glass of wine after a long day, consuming alcohol before bed will interfere with getting a good night's sleep.  Limit yourself to one drink at dinner and stay away from booze for at least four hours before bed.

42. Try yoga: Find yourself staring at the wall with your mind racing while you’re in bed? Try yoga! The relaxing stretches are great for helping you unwind, relieve tension, and help you focus on your breathing. A CDC survey of yoga practitioners found that 55% reported improved sleep and 85% reported decreased stress.

43. Warm up your feet: Keeping your feet warm is not only comfortable but can help you sleep. One study found that those living in a cool environment who wore socks to bed slept longer than those who didn’t sleep with socks.

44. Drink chamomile tea: A warm glass of tea is a great way to relax before bed. Chamomile tea, in particular, is high in apigenin, an antioxidant that helps regulate sleep. Try a cup before bed to boost your sleep quality and relax. 

45. Take a warm bath: Taking a warm shower or bath before bed will help you fall asleep faster. Warm water heats your body up and then cools off quickly. This temperature change signals to your brain that it's time to sleep. For best results, take a warm shower 90 minutes before bed

46. Use red light: Contrary to blue light, red help can help you sleep. Red light doesn’t suppress the release of melatonin and can improve your sleep quality. A study found that small amounts of exposure to red light increased sleep quality. Try a red light lamp or light bulb. 

47. Try white noise: Adding a white noise machine to your sleep routine can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Using a white noise machine can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by about 40 minutes. 

48. Add some greenery: Houseplants are a great way to add some decor to your space and bring a little bit of nature indoors. Certain plants promote relaxation, purify the air from household toxins like formaldehyde and benzene, and improve sleep by creating clean air and an inviting environment. 

49. Use a light alarm: Hate the sound of a jarring alarm? Wake up with light instead. Light alarms mimic the natural sunrise to help you wake up and regulate your circadian rhythm.The alarm works by gradually increasing the light until you're awake. 

50. Upgrade your mattress: Since we spent up to one-third of our lives asleep, it makes sense that we would want to make the best of our sleep space. Investing in a good mattress will help you fall asleep faster, keep you comfortable, and prevent aches and pains. 

51. Try bright light therapy: Bright light helps stabilize circadian rhythms with light. To use this sleep hack, purchase a therapeutic lamp that produces a spectrum of sunshine-simulating light. Use a light box for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning to get the most out of them. The light will help balance your circadian rhythm, giving you more energy, improving your mood, and increasing sleep quality. 

52. Use your own internal clock: Relying on your own body’s internal clock is a great way to hack your sleep. Simply go to bed when you’re tired and wake up naturally. This method is called free-running sleep and is probably the most logical way to sleep.

53. Learn about sleep cycles: Understanding the science behind sleep can help you sleep better. Our sleep cycles last in 90-minute intervals and if you wake up in the middle of a cycle, you will feel groggy (this is why alarms make us feel tired). Try the Sleep Cycle app to track your cycles and get a better idea of how much time you spend in each cycle. 

54. Turn up some calming tunes or a podcast: With everything from meditative guides to soothing bedtime stories, sleep podcasts are a perfect way to relax and unwind before bed. Listening to calm and soothing music will help as well. 

55. Put up a sleep mask: A sleep mask is a simple solution to hack your sleep. Wearing a sleep mask to block out excessive light in your room-this is especially beneficial for those who work nights or suffer from insomnia. A 2010 study found 

56. Meditate: Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and relax before bed. It will help you relax and prepare for sleep while helping rid yourself from the stresses of the day. Meditation is proven to help fight insomnia and improve sleep quality. To get started, download meditation apps or try some of these meditations before bed.

57. Quit smoking: The effects of smoking are well known. Many don’t realize that puffing on a cigarette can lead to poor sleep. Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a stimulant that keeps you awake. If you smoke near bedtime, this will interfere with your ability to sleep. Smokers are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea and wake up during the night. 

58. Listen to a sleep podcast: Sleep podcasts are a perfect way to unwind and quiet your mind before bed. With everything from meditative guides to soothing bedtime stories, you'll be sure to find the perfect podcast to lull you to sleep.

59. Mellow out with some melatonin: One of the best ways to get to sleep and relax is with melatonin. This hormone is created in our bodies as a signal to go to sleep. Sometimes, this doesn’t work as nature intended. When this happens, you can take melatonin and get back on track with your sleep. 

Advanced Sleep Hacks and Other Methods 

60. Consider polyphasic sleep: This method might not work for everyone but if you’re serious about hacking your sleep polyphasic sleep is worth a shot. Polyphasic sleep entails dividing your sleep into two blocks rather than a single time period. Monophasic sleep is what most of us do and sleep once a day. A polyphasic sleep schedule would include a 20-minute nap every four hours, for two hours of sleep every day. Then, three 20-minute naps throughout the day and a 3-hour “core sleep” at night. While polyphasic sleeping can help you acquire more time in your day in the short term, it is not recommended for a long term sleep hack as it ultimately causes a sleep deficiency. 

61. The 28-hour day: Instead of following the rest of the world's 24/7 schedule, you can hack your sleep with a 28/6 week, which has 28 hours per day and 6 days. Because the 28-hour schedule advances your internal clock, allowing you to rely on cues like light and darkness to tell you when it's time to sleep. Here is an example of a 28/6 week schedule. This schedule allows you to enjoy late evenings and weekend outings without feeling deprived of sleep. However, there is no way you can have this schedule while working an average 9-5 job. 

62. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation: The goal of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is to tense and relax distinct muscle groups until you fall asleep. To start a full body PMR, begin with your eyebrows and forehead muscles. Raise your brows as high as possible for 5 seconds to tighten the forehead muscles-the tension will dissipate as you relax these muscles. Apply the same tension / relax technique to the shoulders, triceps, chest, stomach, hips, thighs, calves, and feet as you move around the body. 

63. Take a coffee nap: A coffee nap is a new concept that is gaining popularity. The nap technique-drinking a cup of coffee before taking a nap-allows the caffeine in coffee to fully take effect (in about 20-30 minutes). By the time your nap is over, you'll be experiencing the first effects of caffeine. This science-backed method is an excellent way to level up your nap game.

64. Keep a sleep log: Taking notes on hour sleep is a great way to find out if something is keeping you awake at night, disrupting your sleep, or helping you sleep. Write down your activities for the day, mood, what you ate, exercise, caffeine consumption, etc. Create your own sleep diary in a spreadsheet, purchase a pre-made sleep journal, or try a sleep app.

65. Reduce your overall need for sleep: Reducing your overall need for sleep may not work for some. The concept of reducing sleep is more about improving the quality of your sleep instead of cutting down on the hours you spend asleep. The average adult needs at least 7 hours of sleep to feel fully rested. Reducing your overall need for sleep is not recommended long term. 

These tips are sure to help you sleep no matter what group you fit into or where you find yourself in life. The importance of good sleep is vital to overall health, physical fitness, mental cognition, and more. These tips can help you both get to sleep and improve your health. Looking for even more sleep tips? Visit our website for even more sleep tips, mattress recommendations/comparisons, guides, and more!

 
Emily Stringer

Emily Stringer


Emily is a sleep expert and content creator at SleePare. With over five years of experience writing and extensive experience reviewing mattresses, curating comparisons and advising on "best of" guides, she's well-versed in mattress technology.

Emily has perfected this method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so she's not only able to discern the overall value of a specific bed, but to assign its value to different types of sleepers.

Along with creating honest and straightforward mattress features, Emily enjoys spending time with her dogs and exploring her home town of Lexington, Kentucky.