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December 4, 2023 Dec 04, 2023 9 min read

How to Get Better Sleep for Greater Happiness and Good Health


  • Sleep is essential for mental, emotional, and physical health.
  • Sleep recharges us and supports every aspect of our well-being.
  • Eight to ten hours is recommended for ages 13-18. Seven to nine hours each day is recommended for adults.
  • Dreams clear away excess information and help you process your experiences.
  • Take steps to improve your sleep and you will see the benefits.

Why sleep is essential for mental health

Sleep is essential for mental and physical health. We all need rest every day. Sleep recharges our energy, sorts out the thoughts and experiences of the day, and helps us balance our emotions. Not getting enough sleep and being chronically tired make it very hard to get things done and enjoy life. It makes us more likely to get depressed, anxious, and physically ill.

Sleep should be a source of peace and comfort. But it is sometimes not that easy to get these restful benefits that we need to thrive. Getting good sleep makes us feel happier and able to be more productive and creative. When we are rested, we can be in a better mood and have more pleasant relationships. Little inconveniences and annoyances don’t bother us as much.

How sleep recharges us and supports our well-being

Each day when you sleep, it's as if your brain is cleaning house.

Your brain is processing your thoughts and feelings from the past and present. It is clearing away information from the day that you don’t need and consolidating memories. 

During sleep, your emotions become more balanced. Sleep is also very important for learning because good sleep helps us pay attention, focus, and concentrate. Highl

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Without enough sleep, you get overloaded with emotions and can be irritable during your waking hours. You need this clean-up job to be able to focus and pay attention during the day. While you sleep, your brain is working for you.

You are not alone if you have problems going to sleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep. Many people struggle with this on a regular basis.

If you don’t get enough good-quality sleep, you can become depressed and anxious. A two-way street develops when your depression and anxiety make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. So it’s very important to do what you can to nourish your mind and body with several hours of sleep each day.

How much sleep do we need?

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, there is a recommended number of hours of sleep needed each day. While individuals vary, the standards are:

     1-2 years old         11-14 hours 

     6-12 years old:    9-12 hours

     13-18 years old:  8-10 hours

     Over 18:               7-9 hours

Sleep and dreams

Feeling safe and comfortable are keys to good sleep. If you have suffered trauma, and especially if you have been sexually abused, feeling safe is difficult. Just going to sleep may make you feel vulnerable. You may also suffer from bad dreams or nightmares that wake you up.

While our dreams can be painful, they are a way that our minds work through trauma. Although reliving those feelings and images may be very upsetting, you may be making progress in letting go of bad memories. When you wake up from a bad dream, first remind yourself that you are safe and that it is just a dream. Second, you can rewrite the dream in your mind. Imagine defending yourself, putting a stop to being mistreated, and going on, free of what happened to you. This can help you take back your power and remind you that you can set limits and be the director of your own life. Reset your day after a nightmare and tell yourself you are going to have a good day, living in the present and not the past.

Although most of us don’t remember much of our dreams, if you do, try to learn from them. Not only about what you don’t want to happen but also about your wishes for the future and what makes you feel happy. 

Things to do to improve sleep

It doesn’t help to push away your feelings. Acknowledge how you may feel before going to sleep. It can help to write down worries and concerns.

Shift to thoughts of good things and gratitude. This can be for very small things in your day, but it will help put you in a more peaceful state.

Benefits of Mindfulness for Sleep

Mindfulness is a way to step back from our thoughts and feelings. The mindfulness approach teaches us to look at what is happening from the outside without judgment. As we go to sleep, our minds can go to our worries, our to-do lists, and things that happened during the day.

Mindfulness can help us observe and let go of the emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations that may keep us awake. Mindfulness has been shown to help with insomnia and better sleep.

Benefits of Yoga for Sleep

Practicing yoga has numerous health benefits. It lowers stress, releases muscle tension, and creates deep relaxation. The yoga positions lower blood pressure and remove toxins from your body tissues. The breathing practice in yoga lessens the fight or flight response to trauma. All of this improves your overall well-being and leads to better sleep. For some people, exercising within an hour before sleep can be overstimulating and make it harder to go to sleep. Experimenting with what works best for you is the best approach.

Benefits of Exercise for Sleep

Exercise releases stress and makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Thirty minutes a day of exercise can set your inner clock, so your body knows when it is time to wake up and go to sleep. This creates a regular sleep schedule that is best for your mental and physical health. Exercise lifts your mood so you can relax at the end of the day. 

Steps to Get Better Sleep

Meditating or breathing deeply for several minutes can help you relax and drift off to sleep. Meditating regularly will help you be calmer in general, as your mind and body learn how to relax more.


  • Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule:
    • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock.
  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine:
    • Develop a calming pre-sleep routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. This might include reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques.
  • Optimize Your Sleep Environment:
    • Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. This means keeping the room cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine if necessary.
  • Invest in a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow:
    • Your mattress and pillow play a significant role in sleep quality. If they are old and uncomfortable, consider investing in new ones that provide proper support.
  • Limit Exposure to Screens Before Bed:
    • The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with your sleep. Avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Watch Your Diet:
    • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These can disrupt sleep patterns and make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Stay Active During the Day:
    • Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days, but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
  • Manage Stress and Anxiety:
    • Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation to calm your mind before sleep.
  • Limit Naps:
    • If you need to nap during the day, keep it short (20-30 minutes) and avoid napping late in the afternoon.
  • Limit Liquid Intake Before Bed:
    • To prevent nighttime awakenings to use the bathroom, reduce your liquid intake in the evening.
  • Expose Yourself to Natural Light:
    • Get exposure to natural daylight during the day, especially in the morning. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock.
  • Limit the Use of Alarm Clocks:
    • Try to wake up without an alarm clock whenever possible. If you need an alarm, choose one with a gentle, soothing sound.
  • Keep a Sleep Diary:
    • Record your sleep patterns and habits in a sleep diary. This can help you identify patterns and factors that may be affecting your sleep negatively.
  • Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I):
    • If sleep problems persist, consider CBT-I, a proven therapy that helps address the underlying causes of insomnia and improve sleep.
  • Consult a Healthcare Professional:
    • If you’ve tried various strategies and continue to have severe sleep issues, consult a healthcare professional or sleep specialist to rule out underlying medical conditions and explore treatment options.

Improving sleep often involves making lifestyle changes and adopting healthy sleep habits. Be patient and persistent, as it may take some time to see significant improvements. Prioritizing sleep is a vital aspect of maintaining good physical and mental health.


Sleep is essential for mental and physical health. Without good sleep, we get tired and this can make us feel depressed, anxious, irritable, and cause illness. Sleep should be a source of comfort and give us the energy we need to be productive and enjoy life. At night, we can let go of our worries, work out our thoughts and emotions in dreams, and rest our bodies. There are several simple sleep habits that can help you get better, longer, and less interrupted sleep. This includes getting exercise and sunlight during the day, creating a nice, comfortable environment for sleep, managing our worries with mindfulness, meditation, or yoga practice, taking short naps during the day, keeping a regular sleep schedule and routine, and more.

Your Sleep Journal

Welcome to your Sleep Journal! This journal is designed to help you develop better sleep habits and deeper sleep. By regularly recording your sleep habits, you can get better sleep that will support your mental and physical health. Download your sleep journal and get started.

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