5 Secrets for a Good Night's Sleep

Do you often wake up before your alarm? Lots of things can rob you of precious sleep. Follow these daytime tips to make your nights more restful.

1. Ease Stress and Worry

It's not a smart sleep strategy to keep up a frantic pace until you collapse into bed. "A revved-up mind remains in a mild state of alertness even while you sleep, making you susceptible to nighttime awakenings," says Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.

Before turning in, try these tips to unwind:

  • Meditate.
  • Do some light stretching .
  • Read (but not on an electronic device, because the light can make it hard to get sleepy).

You can also write in a "worry journal." You may ease stress if you jot down your concerns or tomorrow's action items before calling it a night.

Another way to settle down before bed: Count backward by 3s from 300. It can be a helpful distraction when nagging thoughts keep you awake.

2. Update Your Bed

It's no secret that pain can disrupt your sleep. If an achy back or hip routinely wakes you up, it's time to make some changes to your bed.

Get a new mattress. It loses support with age and use. Breus recommends buying a new one at least every 7 years. Research suggests a more flexible mattress eases back pain better than an ultra-firm one.

Swap out your pillows. Do this once a year. Choose a thick one if you're a side sleeper, a flatter one if you like to doze on your belly.

3. Get the Temperature Just Right

A too-warm room can have you awake and kicking off the covers at 2 a.m.

"The sweet spot for sleep seems to be somewhere between 68 and 74 degrees," says Tracey Marks, MD, author of Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified.

So if you find you're overheated during the night, turn down the thermostat.

Also, spicy or acidic foods, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks can rev you up and make you sweat more in the middle of the night. Avoid eating or drinking them too close to bedtime.