Better Sleep Tips: How to Improve Your Sleep Quality Tonight

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Sleep is more than just a reprieve at the end of a long day — it plays a vital role in our mental and physical well-being. Sleep is your body’s chance to restore itself physically, which has psychological benefits that carry through your day. If you are struggling with sleep, then finding the right solution takes a combination of personal assessment and trial and error. The type of sleep troubles you’re dealing with need a personalized solution, and this guide is intended to help you move toward a more rested, restored you.

Addressing Sleep Challenges

Sleep problems are more common than you might think. The Public Health Agency of Canada suggests adults 18 and older get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, but one in four adults between 18 and 34 report struggling to get that much [1].

With one in two adults struggling to sleep and one in five adults reporting they are unhappy with their sleep quality, it’s important to bring awareness to the struggles that many people face.

  • Insomnia — Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep with frequent resting throughout the day.
  • Narcolepsy — Excessive daytime sleepiness with muscle weakness.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS) — Disruptive muscle aches, pain, or strain that require you to move to alleviate discomfort throughout the night.
  • Sleep apnea — A sleep disorder marked by episodes where you stop breathing; it can be a structural issue (obstructive sleep apnea, OSA) or come from the brain (central sleep apnea, CSA).
  • Anxiety — Worrying excessively can increase stress levels, resulting in excess cortisol and adrenaline [2] that make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Depression — Depression is linked to poorer sleep quality, even among people who sleep more than usual while depressed [3].
  • Chronic stress — As with anxiety, chronic stress leads to increased hormonal imbalance that affects your ability to sleep; it can also lead to prolonged activation of the sympathetic nervous system (“fight-or-flight response”) [4].
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) — This condition causes severe fatigue that lasts for six months or longer; symptoms are persistent and don’t fully improve with adequate rest.

Any of these conditions can contribute to poorer sleep quality. There may be other possible explanations for your lack of sleep, which is why taking measures to assess your personal situation is so important when developing a solution.

It can also be helpful to speak with a doctor or therapist who may be able to help you cope with the causes and effects of poor sleep. What matters most is prioritizing rest. Sleep deprivation can lead to impaired cognitive function, increased levels of depression, weight gain, more frequent illness, cardiovascular health risks, and more [5].

Strategies for Enhancing Sleep Quality

Creating a peaceful sleep environment is an important part of getting enough rest. Looking for ways to help your mind and body unwind naturally are key to improving your sleep while also addressing any underlying conditions. These suggestions can help you work toward a more restful night’s sleep by tending to your mind and body.

1 – Improve Temperature and Light

The optimal temperature for sleep is between 65–68 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6–20 degrees Celsius). Your body’s temperature needs to lower in order to enter the most restorative stage of sleep (REM). Lower temperatures help signal your body’s natural sleep cycle, so consider lowering the thermostat if you tend to keep your bedroom warm.

Light is also important in avoiding micro-awakenings or difficulty falling asleep. Too much light can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle, causing you to wake up more frequently or struggle to nod off altogether.

To help improve temperature and lighting conditions, make sure you use lightweight covers appropriate for the season. Lower the thermostat at night if you have to, and consider installing blackout curtains or blinds.

2 — Keep the Room Quiet

It may seem like a no-brainer, but too much noise is disruptive to sleep. This can cause you to frequently wake even if you don’t register it, leading to lower energy levels and reduced cognitive performance the next day. If you struggle to sleep in an entirely silent room, consider using white noise. You can wear it in earbuds or buy a white noise machine. The benefit can be twofold — it stops you from struggling to sleep in silence while also canceling noise pollution.

3 — Select a Supportive Mattress and Pillows

If your mattress is too soft or too firm, it could cause physical discomfort that impacts sleep quality. The same goes for your pillows; the wrong firmness for your body can lead to a headache, stiff neck, and shoulder pain. Pillows that are too big or firm can lead to undue neck strain while ones that are too soft may not offer enough support for you to feel comfortable.
Avoid pillows that are too thick and disrupt the natural curvature of your neck. You should aim for a neutral spine that keeps your neck and back in alignment while you sleep. Putting a pillow between your knees can help align the spine if you’re a side-sleeper.

4 — Keep Your Space Clean

Tidy spaces make a positive impact on your emotional health, and it may also enhance your sleep quality. Create a clean, clutter-free environment that puts your mind at ease when you walk into it. Avoid having any work nearby or any physical reminders of stress triggers.

On another note, it’s important to keep pillows and bedding clean to prevent irritation from dust mites. These can trigger uncomfortable respiratory symptoms or even allergies that further reduce sleep quality.

5 — Manage Work-Related Stress in the Evening

Carrying stress with you into the evening ultimately leads to anxiety and sleep deprivation. Have a nighttime routine that helps you fully disconnect from the workday. This could start with a light workout or stretch routine, putting your phone away, and doing activities that calm your mind.  Journaling can also help; it can give you a space to write down anything you’d usually lie awake thinking about.

6 — Break Up Long Periods of Sitting Throughout the Day

An interesting statistic the Public health Agency points out is that a sedentary lifestyle is correlated with poorer sleep quality. Adults who have four hours of sedentary time per day report worse sleep than those who have 3.5 hours. Of course, we know that modern times with desk jobs being the norm result in much longer sedentary periods throughout the day.

Break up sitting with breaks; take a walk, stretch, and try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Reducing sedentary periods can help improve not only your sleep but your physical and mental health as well.

Stress Management Techniques for a More Restful Sleep

There are several ways you can help your body relax and release tension before you fall asleep.

Yoga Poses to Unwind Before Bed

Just 10-15 minutes of yoga before bed could help you fall asleep faster and enjoy more restful sleep. There are certain poses that can improve sleep by promoting mindfulness, increasing relaxation, and stimulating your body’s rest-and-digest response.

  • Child’s pose — Start on the floor with your knees apart and big toes touching. Gently walk your hands forward so your arms are outstretched. Lean your weight back toward your heels as far as it is comfortable for you. Hold for several breaths.
  • Final resting pose — Lay on your back, arms at your sides, legs slightly apart. This is an excellent pose for aligning your spine, finding a neutral posture, and relaxing your muscles. This is also a great pose to practice progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Legs-up-the-wall pose — Lay against a wall and lift your legs directly up. You can hold your arms out in a T-pose at your side. Stay here for several breaths, releasing tension. This is a good pose for promoting enhanced digestion.
  • Forward fold — Standing with your feet slightly apart, begin to gently fold forward at the hips. Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid back strain. You can rest your hands on your thighs, knees, or let them hang nice and loose.

Gratitude Practices for Better Sleep

Gratitude is proven to improve mental health [6]. By increasing happiness, lowering stress, and reducing depression, gratitude can help you enter a more positive headspace before falling asleep.

You can count your blessings on your own before bed, incorporate it into a stretching or yoga routine, or journal it. Do what works for you, but try to end your day on a highlight but focusing on all the good things you have (keep it simple — good cereal for breakfast, coffee in the morning, and comfy pajamas all count.)

Pre-Sleep Bathing to Relax Your Body

A warm bath or shower can help you release physical and mental tension before bed. The warm water helps lower your body temperature, which can make it easier to fall asleep [7]. Your body temperature is typically two to three degrees higher in the late afternoon and evening, which makes lowering it an effective strategy for better sleep.

Embrace the Stress-Reducing Power of Reading

Research shows that reading can lower stress levels by up to 68% [8]. Reading offers your brain a mental break, allowing you to ease your worries and detach yourself from anxiety. Novels require you to use your power of imagination, so it’s more active for the brain than watching TV or film or playing a video game — all of which are more stimulating and may worsen sleep quality.

Reading also helps you feel less alone, strengthens empathy, and encourages personal reflection. While other forms of media can do the same, reading is an ideal habit to engage in before bed as it helps you give your mind and eyes a break from screens.

Of course, non-fiction is a great choice too! Read what makes you happy, but consider light subject materials that leave you feeling positive before bed.


Apps like Headspace and Balance make it easy to develop a nightly meditation ritual. It doesn’t have to be extremely formal; just learning to focus on your breath, detach from anxious thoughts, and release stress can have long-reaching benefits for your sleep and mental health.


Poor sleep quality can stem from physical or mental causes or a combination of both. When it comes to improving your rest each night, having a good routine is important. You can also seek out professional help from a doctor or mental health counselor to help you tackle underlying issues impacting your sleep quality.

Now, turn off your phone or laptop, and try some of these strategies to enjoy a better night’s sleep. Sweet dreams.


1. Are Canadian adults getting enough sleep? Infographic - Canada.ca

2. Chronic stress puts your health at risk - Mayo Clinic.  

3. Can Too Much Sleep Cause Depression? Here's What to Know – Healthline.

4. Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System – American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, Laurie Kelly McCorry, 2007.

5. Sleep deprivation - Better Health Channel

6. The Impact of Gratitude on Mental Health - NAMI California

7. Having Trouble Sleeping? Try a Hot Bath Before Bed – Healthline

8. Why Reading is Good for Mental Health - NAMI California

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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