5 Tips for Better Sleep (Counting Sheep Not Required)

Improving your sleep quality isn’t just a dream. Consider these easy suggestions from a Michigan Medicine sleep specialist — and her cuddly friend.

1:00 PM

Author | Kevin Joy

When it comes to getting enough sleep, we could all use some help — or at least an attitude adjustment.

MORE FROM MICHIGAN: Sign up for our weekly newsletter

"We definitely take sleep as a luxury; it's not," says Cathy Goldstein, M.D., a sleep physician and neurologist at Michigan Medicine's Sleep Disorders Center.

Success, though, involves more than counting sheep.  

Simple lifestyle tweaks, both in and outside of the bedroom, can make it easier for most people to improve the quality and quantity of nightly shut-eye.

Need a nudge? Try incorporating these minor modifications (as demonstrated below) into your routine.

In honor of World Sleep Day on March 17, Goldstein this week is challenging others to put the tips into action. Share your success by commenting on Michigan Medicine's Facebook page or by using the hashtag #GoBlueSleep on Instagram or Twitter.  


Set a consistent sleep schedule

Make it a habit to turn in and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. The reason: Your body's circadian rhythm (aka its internal clock) will be thrown off by an erratic schedule — a shift Goldstein compares to jet lag.


Cut the coffee after midday

Caffeine from an afternoon cup of java can remain in your system for hours and affect your sleep. Also worth limiting: alcohol, which can facilitate sleep but at a much poorer quality. As a result, you're also more likely to snore and, no surprise, wake up to empty a full bladder.


Ban electronics from the bedroom

Sure, you want to check email or refresh social media one more time (Goldstein says she's guilty, too). But the light from handheld devices and TV screens suppresses melatonin, the hormone that tells your body when to fall asleep. Being "wired" can also keep you worked up.


Avoid exercise before sleep

Exercise is key to good health and a decent night's rest. Just don't work up a sweat before bed. Aerobic activity, after all, boosts adrenaline, body temperature and heart rate — factors that needn't be amplified when you're trying to doze off. Working out a few hours prior is OK.


Use your bed only for sleep and sex

Help your body associate winding down only with these activities. That way, you won't tie agitations such as working on your laptop or text message alerts with peaceful slumber. Helpful, too, are soft bedding and pillows to accentuate the sleeping space.

To learn more about Dr. Goldstein's sleep challenge, click here

More Articles About: Wellness & Prevention Sleep Disorders Treatment Wellness and Prevention Sleep Disorders
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

Explore a variety of healthcare news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Featured News & Stories
Health Lab
The Real-Life ‘Walking Dead’: Binge-Watching Can Make You a Zombie, Study Finds
Learn how watching too much television can negatively effect your sleep and overall health, and get tips for binge watching responsibly from Michigan Medicine.
A family discussing their family's medical history at Thanksgiving
Health Lab
Why you need to discuss your family health history at Thanksgiving
The holidays are a great time to discuss your family's medical history. Learn the importance of discussing your family's health history & how to bring it up.
woman listening to different shadow windows of people saying different things about kids
Health Lab
Parents of young kids increasingly turn to social media for parenting advice
A C.S. Mott Children's Hospital health poll found most mothers and over two-thirds of fathers of children ages 0-4 use social media for questions on topics like feeding and behavior challenges.
wheelchair walker image
Health Lab
Spread of drug resistant bacteria linked to patient hand contamination and antibiotic use within nursing homes
A Michigan Medicine research team seeks to identify characteristics of patients within nursing homes, as well as the nursing home environment itself, that are associated with contamination by vancomycin-resistant enterococci.
graphic drawing of colonoscopy scan with large intestine vials patient on bed doctor
Health Lab
Investment in free follow up colonoscopies will pay off
Free colonoscopies for people whose at-home stool tests (such as Cologuard and FIT) turn up signs of potential cancer are now covered by insurance, and a study shows this will save money.
mom in hospital bed holding newborn baby
Health Lab
RSV shot protects infants during peak season: What parents should know
For the first time, families will have a long acting option to protect infants and high risk toddlers from a common respiratory virus that sends tens of thousands of children to the hospital every year.