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How to sleep better at night

Expert advice for getting your necessary rest

Young adult woman in pink silk pajamas sleeps on bed with blindfold over eyes in home environment in early sunny morning.

Let’s start with a classic dad joke:

“I’m so good at sleeping, I can do it with my eyes closed.” (Your kids will love it, we promise.)

Funny enough, but … is it true? For many of us, the answer is no. Sleep can be a challenge, even when (perhaps especially when) we know how important it is. According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders, and the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 3 Americans do not get enough sleep.

If those numbers include you, what can you do? We’re glad you asked. Here are a few tips to help you rest a little easier at night.

In this article:

Address the stress

Too much stress is linked to health issues, and there is no shortage of things to be stressed about, from work to money to relationships to the news. Even those very same health issues can cause anxiety, leading to a vicious cycle of worrying and sleeplessness.

To break that cycle, consider ways to manage that stress. During the daytime, that might mean working with a therapist or making sure to get outside for a walk or even just to sit. At night before bed, you can meditate or try aromatherapy. At any time, you could journal.

And, of course, you should make a plan to deal with the direct source of that stress. If it’s money, budgeting can help. If it’s a relationship, counseling can be useful. If it’s the news, consider limiting how much you consume, or find a way to turn those feelings into something constructive (like volunteering or donating to a worthy organization).

One thing to know is that eligible Haven Term policyholders get a no-cost subscription to the fitness app Aaptiv via the Haven Life Plus bonus rider, and it’s filled with guided meditations — including ones designed to help you sleep.

Eat and drink with a purpose

Like a car, your body needs the proper fuel to run optimally. Not using the proper fuel can have adverse effects, including sleep problems. According to one expert from Johns Hopkins, here are some foods to avoid:

Alcohol: Sure, drinking can make you sleepy, but over the course of a night, you will rest more fitfully after a night of imbibing. Reducing your intake, especially closer to bedtime, can help you get more healthy sleep.

Spicy foods: So many delicious foods are spicy, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s best to avoid them for dinner. They can worsen acid reflux, and may even increase your core temperature, which makes it hard to get to sleep.

High-fat and high-protein foods: Steak, chicken, processed cheeses and meats… all these admittedly tasty things take longer to break down in the body, which can keep your tummy up at night. Some can even reduce your brain’s ability to regulate its sleep clock.

You should also monitor your caffeine consumption, and consider cutting yourself off by a certain time of day to ensure your body has time to process it before bed.

Instead, consider fruits, veggies, and complex carbohydrates. You might also want to increase the amount of hours between dinner and bedtime, if you can.

Get regular exercise

You know all the reasons you should work out. Exercise helps with your mental health. It can increase your longevity, and increase the quality of those years should you live longer.

And guess what? It’ll improve your sleep, too.

So how can you prioritize your exercise routine? One idea is to stop thinking of it as “exercise” (or “working out”), and forget all the sweaty and spandex-y connotations that come with that terminology. Instead, just think of it as movement — it could be going for a walk, gardening, playing with your kids, or skipping the elevator and taking the stairs. Even a few minutes of being physically active per day can have an outsized impact.

Another idea? Again, it’s the fitness app Aaptiv, which includes a wide range of workouts for people of all ages and abilities. (And you can choose your workout by how much time you have.) Eligible Haven Term policyholders enjoy a no-cost subscription through the Haven Life Plus bonus rider.

Create a routine

For many of us, the demands of work and family mean we’re often busy right until we crash. But according to most sleep experts, this approach deprives us of critical time spent transitioning from being awake to being asleep.

Improving your sleep habits can start with improving your sleep environment. Consider setting aside time in the evening to unwind before going to sleep. You could journal or meditate, or put on some quiet instrumental music (Spotify has some great playlists for sleeping), or get lost in a book. Prior to that, you could go for a walk, engage in some gentle stretching, or just make time to talk with your partner or spouse.

Some other common suggestions:

Whatever you find that works for you, keep doing it.

When sleep won’t come

Some of those who are sleep deprived have trouble falling asleep. Others have trouble staying asleep. Whichever the case, if you find yourself lying in bed unable to sleep, consider getting up and moving around. You can sit nearby and read something relaxing, or again, work on your deep breathing and meditation techniques.

This isn’t about waking your body up, though: Keep the lights low, and continue to avoid devices.

When you start feeling sleepy again, return to bed.

How Haven Life can help

We’ve mentioned already how eligible Haven Term policyholders can enjoy no-cost access to a fitness app through our Haven Life Plus bonus rider. What we didn’t mention is that those same eligible policyholders also get no-cost access to Timeshifter, a jetlag-fighting app backed by NASA-level science. (Hey, sleep is important, even for astronauts.)

But here’s what every Haven Term policyholder enjoys: Peace of mind. It comes from knowing your loved ones are financially protected through an affordable term life insurance policy. We can’t guarantee it will help you sleep better at night — but it can’t hurt.

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About Scott Nevil

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Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

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