Tired of being tired? Use these 5 strategies to help you get a good night’s sleep

Reading time: About 3 minutes

If you’re tired of being tired, check out today’s post for some simple and practical tips that will help you get more shut-eye…

By Ann Gomez

In my last column, I shared the importance of prioritizing sleep, and why our sleep is not a luxury but a necessity.

Just like your car needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly, so too your body needs sleep in order to do important “repair work.” These crucial repairs improve our cognition and our mood by making it easier for us to focus, follow complex thoughts, and make decisions.

Sleep even improves our memory and the way we learn by enabling neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to grow and form new connections.

So, aside from simply feeling lousy, a lack of sleep jeopardizes how we think and learn. And ultimately, when we are well rested, we find more joy in our work and at home.

But like other essential health and wellbeing habits, knowing and doing, do not always go together.

If you have trouble with your sleep, here are five strategies to help you give yourself the gift of a restful and restorative sleep.

And of course, if you struggle with sleep over the long-range, please consult a medical professional to rule out an underlying condition requiring professional support.

  1. Practice mindfulness & meditation. Mindfulness and meditation improve our sense of calm and physical relaxation by helping us focus on the present moment. Think of them like taking your brain to the gym. Much like the positive feeling you get after a workout, you’ll think more clearly, and feel calmer and happier after practising meditation. Guided meditations are useful in the morning or midday, but they typically require you to use an app or other external device, which we want to avoid at bedtime (more on this below). For nighttime, it’s best to do this yourself using techniques like progressive muscle meditation or simply observing your thoughts without judgment. I like this tip from org: Be kind to your wandering mind. Your mind will wander, just as your heart continues to beat. Don’t be harsh on yourself. If you find yourself lost in your thoughts – just come back.
  1. Keep your room cool and dark. We sleep better when it’s cooler, as described elsewhere on this site, and too much light impedes the production of melatonin – the hormone that helps us sleep.
  1. Establish a wind-down routine. Bedtime routines are not just for children. The key to waking up refreshed and raring to go starts the night before. If you’re like me, a doer and a night owl, it can be a challenge to give yourself a bedtime. But when we change the time we go to sleep and wake up, our brain’s expectation for when to fall asleep and wake up is also altered. This explains why many of us feel “off” after a time change (or a Monday!) One pillar of good sleep hygiene is to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every night, including weekends. Back to the wind-down, if your bedtime is 10:30p.m, you should start with a simple, calming activity around 9:30p.m. I like to journal before bed, and believe it or not, even a task like writing your to-do list can help subdue a racing mind. In one study, two groups of participants were asked to write down either their completed tasks from that day, or their to-do list for the next day. Those who wrote their to-do list fell asleep faster. And the more specific their list was, the faster they fell asleep.
  1. Avoid blue light at least one to two hours before bedtime. Blue light, which is produced by cellphones, laptops, computer and TVs, impedes melatonin and acts as a stimulant. Simply put, it tempts us to stay awake when we should be snoozing.
  1. Practice gratitude and count your blessings (instead of sheep!) Gratitude is good medicine for our happiness and our health. Deliberately practicing gratitude helps us shift our perspective in powerful ways and leads to many benefits. We focus less on minor annoyances and more on growth and progress. We feel more content in our current state, no matter how many things linger on our to-do list. We see improvements in our relationships, our health, and our happiness – and our sleep. As part of your bedtime routine, visualize calming images instead of words or images that rouse you.

What happens when you finally get to sleep but wake up in the middle of the night? Try these same techniques and just as you would before bedtime, avoid the temptation to look at your phone, or the clock, or turn on the light in the bathroom. I like to use an affirmation I call “trust and release” to quell any racing thoughts that tend to pop up when I wake up at 2 a.m. I trust I can handle (whatever it is I’m ruminating over) tomorrow and I release it from my thoughts. I repeat this over and over until I’m back in la la land.

I hope these strategies help you create your own peaceful, sleep routine and I wish you a good night’s rest every night.

For more strategies you can use to set yourself up for success, see Ann’s latest book, Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time, published by Dundurn Press, 2022.

Scroll to Top