9 surprising things you can do to sleep better at night

Look, we all know how important it is to get a good night’s rest — it not only makes you more productive, you’ll also be happier, healthier, and better able to manage life’s stresses. And while there are obvious tips like not drinking coffee too late in the day, there are also some unexpected things you can to do sleep better at night.

That’s why we did a little research to discover a few surprising ways to get your beauty sleep. From eating specific pre-bedtime snacks to adjusting the temperature in your bedroom, a good snooze is closer than you think. Read on and then share your best sleep tips with us on social media.

1. Eat a bowl of cottage cheese and sliced bananas.

You know that post-turkey tryptophan nap we all love? You can get that feeling by enjoying some cottage cheese and bananas about an hour before bed, says Boston University professor Joan Salge Blake, RD. The combination is loaded with relaxing tryptophan.

2. Don’t take a hot bath or shower close to bedtime.

Your body actually needs to cool down in order to sleep soundly — you’ll know that if you’ve ever tried to rest well during a nighttime heat wave! — so raising your body’s temperature with a hot bath or shower right before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. Try soaking right after work or dinner instead.

3. Think back on your morning, instead of reciting your to-do list.

Thinking too much about all the things we have to get done the next day does nothing help us sleep better at night. However, Zen Habits writer Leo Babauta says that recounting his day from the moment he awoke helps him to drift off quickly. “Think of the first thing you did that morning — the very first thing, like turning off your alarm,” he writes. “Then think of the next thing, and so on, replaying your morning in as much detail as possible. I never get to mid-morning.”

4. Get the temperature in your room to between 65 and 72 degrees.

That’s the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep, so set your central heating or cooling system accordingly if you have one. For those living in older buildings with radiators and fans, try keeping your window open when your radiator is on (so your room doesn’t become stiflingly hot) or warming your bed with an electric blanket before your get in (but turn it off before you doze off, you don’t want to burn yourself!)

5. Don’t just lay there and try to force sleep.

Lying in bed for hours and hours stressing about how you can’t get to sleep is counterproductive. If you find that you still haven’t fallen asleep after about 15 minutes of being in bed in the dark, go to another room and do some light yoga, meditation, or reading until you’re feeling tired again. Then, go back to your bed and lay down to rest.

6. If you get up in the middle of the night, keep the lights low.

Not only is bright light startling when you’ve been asleep in the dark for hours, it will also tell your body to stop producing melatonin — the sleep-regulating hormone you need for a good night’s rest. If you have to get up to drink water or use the bathroom at night, try to use a night light or other dim light source instead of turning on bright overhead lights.

7. Paint your room a calming color.

The actual color doesn’t matter — it could be blue, yellow, lavender, or anything else that’s relaxing for you — but resting in a room that’s painted a calming shade will help you fall asleep more easily.

8. Don’t sleep with your pet.

Pet owners, don’t kill us for this one! We know it’s nice to cuddle with your pet at night, but their constant tossing, turning, and sleep-barking will disrupt your sleep, not theirs. Plus, sleeping with your dog can result in the transmission of animal diseases to humans (especially if your pup is sick).

9. Spritz your pillow with lavender.

It turns out that aromatherapy is no joke! Studies have found that sniffing a little lavender before bedtime can actually help you to sleep more soundly, so mix a few drops of the essential oil with water and spritz it on your pillow for a good night’s rest.