picture of person going through their sleep checklist

Sleep Checklist

There are lots of things that can affect sleep, browse through our sleep checklist to see if you’re doing the right things for a great night of Zs.
woman bicycling on a sunny day to help her sleep

1) Daytime Habits:

Wake up at the same time every day
Experts recommend maintaining regular bedtimes and wake up times to keep your biological clock on schedule.
Get regular physical activity
Physical exertion has been shown to improve mood and sleep.
Outdoor exposure to sunlight

Daylight helps to set your wake/sleep internal clock.

Avoid or limit daytime naps
If you need to nap, do it before 3 p.m. and keep it under 30 minutes.  Too long or too late can make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.
Person relaxing before bed with a cup of tea by the fireplace as described on the sleep checklist

2) Evening and Bedtime Habits:

Maintain a pre-bedtime relaxation routine
Activities such as light reading, relaxation exercises, calming music, or a warm bath can help you prepare for sleep.
Go to bed at the same time every night
Experts recommend maintaining regular bedtimes and wake up times to keep your biological clock on schedule.
Go to bed when sleepy
That sleepy feeling is your body telling you it’s time to settle down for sleep.  Ignoring it can cause stress and get you out of sync with your natural sleep cycles.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake
Stimulants can make it difficult to fall asleep.  Alcohol may initially make you drowsy, but can disrupt your sleep during the night.
Avoid large meals and drinks close to bedtime
Eating and drinking too much and too late can make it hard to sleep.  Avoid foods that can cause heartburn or indigestion.
Avoid use of electronics
Smart phones, tablets, and TV screens emit bright blue light which has been shown to interfere with body’s natural sleep-wake cycles.  Learn more

Some sleep hacks that can help protect you from bright blue light

Avoid looking at the clock
Playing “watch the clock” can really increase your anxiety and make it even harder to go to sleep.  Set your alarm and turn the clock so it faces away from you.
lady asleep in bed

3) Sleep Environment:

Sleep on a comfortable bed
An old mattress with poor support for your body can make it harder to fall asleep.  Learn more
Keep it quiet
Nuisance noises can keep you from falling asleep and keep you out of restful deep sleep even when you’re not awake.  Experts recommend you turn off your TV or radio.  Try using ear plugs or white noise if there are surrounding sounds you can’t get rid of.

Some sleep aides that can help deal with nuisance noise

Some sleep aides to help with snoring

Keep it dark
Bright light can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and keep you from feeling sleepy.  Even small amounts of ambient light can affect melatonin production and keep you from getting quality sleep.

Some sleep aides you can use to block out nuisance light

Keep it cool
Colder room temperatures help your body’s natural sleep process.  Studies suggest that a room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 19 Celsius) is optimal for sleeping.
lady talking with doctor about her sleep test results

4) Health:

Adjust your meds
Some over the counter and prescription medicines can interfere with sleep.  Learn more
Check for sleep disorders
Health conditions such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease can affect sleep.  A doctor can review your medical history to see what could be causing your insomnia.  Learn more
Check for other health issues
Health conditions such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease can affect sleep.  A doctor can review your medical history to see if there’s something else contributing to your insomnia.  Learn more
Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.

-Thomas Dekker

Tips for the sleep checklist:

After going through this list, hopefully you’ve learned about the things you’re doing right and the things you could do better.

How did you do?

If you couldn’t check off a lot of things, don’t get discouraged.

The idea behind this sleep checklist is to show you the many different things that can affect sleep and how many of them are in your control.  This means you can actually do something about them.

We encourage you to:

  • Start treating sleep as seriously as breathing and eating (yes, it’s really that important)
  • Do something today
  • Start working on what you can
  • Work on developing lifelong habits for healthy sleep
Also, keep in mind you’re not alone.  Millions of people fight insomnia every night.

Be sure to enlist the help of your partner or family as you make changes – people you spend a lot of time with can really help or hurt your progress:

  • Be clear about what you need help with (going to bed on time, exercising, etc.)
  • Let them know how important this is for your sleep and health
  • Share with them how this can also help their sleep (this should be obvious, but sometimes gets taken for granted)
  • Share with them how this will make things better for them during the day

We also encourage you to talk your doctor.  Underlying sleep disorders and other health issues can really hurt your sleep even if you’re faithfully following the sleep checklist and have the best sleep habits in the world.

Finally, a sleep checklist is only as helpful as what you do with what you’ve learned.

So, start making changes today and keep learning about sleep!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

-Lao Tzu

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Better Sleep Simplified was founded as a place for insomnia sufferers to get clear and well-researched information.

Our goal is to make sure you know about your options so that you take action sooner rather than later.

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Important:  BetterSleepSimplified.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always consult a physician for sleep and health concerns.  See additional information.

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