Your Body, Sleep, and Happiness, Part II

Sleep and happiness are closely related. It’s not exactly that sleep makes you happy (any college kid on a Saturday morning might disagree with this assumption), but that getting enough of it equips your body and your brain to do what needs to be done. The trick is how. Some of us are wound too tight to let go into the easeful peace of sleep.

What can you do about it? How can you get more sleep? We took a survey of some of our favorite sources* and came up with a list of our favorite sleep tips. Across the board, doctors, nurses, health advocates, chiropractors, massage therapists, and maybe even your mom recommend sticking to a sleep schedule – even on the weekend! Here are some other great tips to add to your drowsy mix:

  • Get regular exercise. The more vigorously you exercise, the better your sleep can be. Develop an exercise routine you enjoy and can stick with for the long term.
  • During the day: spend time outdoors in the sunlight. Let as much natural light into your home and work space as possible.
  • Create a bedtime ritual. Do the same thing each night, it will let your body know it’s time for some shut eye.
  • Watch what you eat. Limit how much you drink before bed, this may prevent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol can all disrupt sleep.
  • Breathe. Sit for a moment before bed and take notice of your breath, let go of other thoughts of the day. In other words, meditate. Prayer is also a great form of meditation for some people.
  • Think. An hour or so before you get into bed, take some time to process your day. You might even jot some things down to get them ‘out of your head.’
  • Check the environment of your bed room. Make sure it is dark and cool. Decorate it in soothing colors.
  • Take a hot bath. “A cozy soak raises your body temperature slightly. Then, when you hop out, you’ll cool down quickly, which mimics the natural drop in body temperature caused by the brain as it readies the body for sleep.” (
  • Keep your room quiet, but not too quiet. A ticking clock near your head can keep you awake (this always makes me think of E.A. Poe’s Telltale Heart), but if the room is too silent, the slightest break in that silence can be jarring. Some people use a white noise generator.
  • Make sure your bed fits. Is the mattress firm enough? How about your pillow? Find one that supports your head without torquing your neck.
  • Use the bed only for sleep and sex. Some places should be sacred – your bed is one of them. Don’t bring any electronics with you to bed. And don’t watch TV in bed!
  • Don’t stress about it. Before closing your eyes tonight visualize yourself in a clam, relaxing place. If you do not get the sleep you dream of tonight, you’ll get another chance.