10 Ways to Sleep Better (Based on Actual Science)

Robert Roy Britt
7 min readJan 8, 2019
Photo: Pixabay/Alexas_Fotos

If sleep is one big, scary nightmare for you, there are almost surely some things you can do (and several things you should not do) to up your odds of a good night’s slumber. And there’s good reason to do so. Good sleep has been linked to better health and overall well-being. In fact, strands of various studies and surveys overlap to reveal a slew of things which, assuming you have control over them, can influence each other, and your sleep, and ultimately your overall happiness.

In its simplest form, here’s what I mean:

If you have a serious sleep condition, or a health condition that negatively impacts your sleep, see a doctor. Otherwise, the advice below acknowledges that many of us tend to be our own worst enemies and can fix our own sleep problem, if only we try.

The suggestions below are rooted in information provided by the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Where other sources or studies are cited, you’ll find links.

You’ll see that most of this is not as simple or short as a lot of interweb listicles make it seem. Because the science of sleep isn’t all cut and dried. Too often, complex sleep findings and advice get whittled down into bold half-truths or outright false claims, because lazy writers (and lazy readers) apparently love such things. But here’s what we know, more or less, based on actual science:

1. Get Out & Work Out

This is a two-parter. It may seem obvious, but going outside during the day matters, as our bodies use daylight as one signal to tell our brains when to be awake and when to be asleep. (This is related to the fact that night-shift workers often have trouble sleeping.)

And while you’re out… you might as well do something. Any form of exercise — walking, aerobics, weightlifting, swimming — can improve sleep for most people, a slew of experts will tell you.

But there are a couple twists.

According to one small study that involved only women, exercise may not be an immediate sleep salve for…

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Robert Roy Britt

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB