Improving Sleep For Better Well-Being

Libby Shively McAvoy
Photo byPhoto by Megan te Boekhorst on Unsplash
“A good laugh and long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” ~ Irish Proverb

Sleep is an essential component of our well-being. Most adults require 7–9 hours of sleep, and children need more. Some of you will say you function fine on four hours or less, and if that is true, I am happy for you, but have you considered how much better you may feel and function with a few more hours?

Last night I tossed and turned, and my insomnia raged like a mad bull. My legs were restless, I could not get comfortable, and my mind was racing with ideas for new content. It is the most frustrating feeling. I got up and took two magnesium supplements which helped relax the muscles and lessen the effects of restless legs. I was able to write my thoughts for content down and finally fell asleep for short periods.

The Problem With Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep amplifies the effects of stress. It makes coping with stress much more difficult. Failure to get enough sleep can also lead to both physical and mental illness. Sleep helps the body repair, giving us a more robust immune system and renewed energy.

People with healthy sleep habits are more likely to have higher emotional intelligence. When we get enough sleep, we are better equipped to recognize other people’s emotions, maintain relationships, problem solve, and practice self-discipline.

Want to lose a little weight? Try sleeping better. Do you tend to eat higher-fat foods and carbs when you are tired? I do. Eating comfort food is the body’s natural defense to gain energy. Experts say we eat 250 fewer calories per day when we sleep well.

How to Sleep Better and Improve Sleep Habits

  • Reduce stress
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule
  • Keep the bedroom free from clutter, a comfortable temperature, and use low lighting
  • Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed, and consider reading or taking a warm bath instead of scrolling or watching TV.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine four hours before bed
  • Exercise during the day, but not immediately before sleeping
  • Spend time outdoors during the day
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed
  • Have multiple pillows to choose from
  • Put clean sheets on the bed regularly and make the bed each morning

How to Reduce Stress For Better Sleep

Stress and sleep go back and forth like the old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Without sleep, we do not cope well with stress. When stressed, we do not sleep well, and the vicious cycle continues until we find ways to manage stress during the day.

Cognitive behavior therapy has been known to reduce stress and improve sleep, particularly for those who have insomnia. A cognitive behavior therapist can work with you to change how you think and choose more positive thoughts when negative ones arise.

Yoga and meditation are excellent sources of relaxation. If you oppose yoga, consider trying an online guided meditation when you feel stress building. Or try a walking meditation in nature when you focus solely on your senses and what surrounds you. Listen to the birds and trees swaying in the wind, pay attention to your feet in contact with the earth, and look around and see all the colors. Meditation has a very calming effect.

Spend time outdoors. If you are not into meditation, just soak in the fresh air. Natural light can help normalize your sleep schedule. Fresh air improves blood pressure and lowers stress hormone levels.

We often wake up at night and struggle to go back to sleep because our mind is racing. I keep a notebook next to my bed because turning the phone on to access notes is something that wakes us further. I write all my thoughts and ideas in the notebook. That way, I know I will remember them in the morning. I can let my thoughts go and ease back into a deep sleep.

Signs of Poor Sleep Quality

  • Not being able to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Waking in the night.
  • Not feeling rested upon waking.

One in three Americans does not get enough regular sleep. When we do not sleep well at night, it often leads to napping during the day, which upsets our circadian rhythm. 

Your circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake pattern over the course of a 24-hour day,” 

Our circadian rhythm is influenced by light and dark, daytime and night. Our eyes capture changes in light and dark and send signals to our brain cells to respond accordingly.

Hormones such as melatonin and cortisol also play an integral role in our circadian rhythm. Melatonin is naturally produced during sunlight to make us tired at night. In winter, when the days are shorter, we do not produce as much on average. Some people may benefit from over-the-counter melatonin supplements. The cortisol our body produces allows us to feel alert in the morning.

Stress, medications, and erratic sleep patterns all affect our circadian rhythm and quality of sleep.

What to do When Struggling To Sleep

  • Read in dim light
  • Listen to ambient music
  • Listen to a guided sleep meditation
  • Take magnesium/ and or melatonin supplements (Magnesium relaxes restless legs)


Sleep is a critical component for functionality and contentment in life. Lack of sleep permeates every aspect of our lives. If you continue several days in a row without sleep, please consider speaking with your physician about either cognitive behavioral therapy, sleeping pills, or a combination of both.

I wish you a good night’s sleep and sweet dreams.
Peace & Light,

References: Cure for insomnia Understanding the circadian rhythm Sleep statistics General information

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Libby is a Personal Development and Relationship coach specializing in emotional intelligence. By blending motivational speaking, leading yoga and wellness retreats, and writing, she has mastered the art of living her best life while helping others.

Cincinnati, OH

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