The 10-Step Guide to Better Sleep

Any one of these can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Together they create a virtuous 24-hour cycle.

Robert Roy Britt
7 min readMay 18, 2022

Image: Pixabay

Sleep is not an isolated act of unconsciousness, but part of a 24-hour cycle programmed by evolution into all the systems of the brain and body. In writing dozens of articles on sleep science and healthy habits that promote good sleep, and interviewing numerous experts, I’ve realized that making the cycle virtuous depends on several behaviors and mindsets you engage in from the moment you wake up until your head hits the pillow again. I’ve broken it all down into 10 science-based steps, any one of which can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer and more soundly.

1. Start when you wake up

Daylight is one of the most powerful sleep aids. In order for your internal clock to keep proper time, it needs to know when the day begins. Natural daylight, which even on a cloudy day is two to four times brighter than most home or office lighting, is vital to suppress the sleep hormone melatonin. Get as much natural light outside as possible each day, especially early. A minimum of two hours of outdoor light—not through a window—will make your brain and body more alert and ready to tackle whatever the day brings, and it’ll properly set your circadian rhythm, as it’s called, so all your internal systems know when it’s time to hit the hay.

2. Get active

If you sleep poorly and you don’t exercise, you might be just one step away from better sleep. Few behaviors are linked more convincingly to good sleep than physical activity, something our ancient ancestors naturally got plenty of. It doesn’t take much: A brisk daily walk will do the trick, or anything that gets your heart pumping moderately for 20 minutes or more a day. Earlier in the day may be better, but that’s not entirely clear. Some studies suggest getting all hepped up in the evening isn’t conducive to sleep, though other research disagrees. You might hedge your bets by exercising early in the day if you prefer. But ultimately, physical activity at any hour is much better than none.

3. Lower your daytime stress level

Robert Roy Britt

Founder/editor of Wise & Well on Medium & the Writer's Guide at & author of Make Sleep Your Superpower