It is incredibly important to get a good night rest everyday, as it can affect the rest of your activities during the day. However, there are some habits or things that we do during the day, that can prevent us from having a restful sleep at night. Keep reading to find out examples of those things, and alternatives that would help you have a better sleep everyday.

Long naps in the daytime

While you may think taking a nap during the day will help you “catch up” on lost sleep, it can actually do more harm than good.

Make sure you are keeping your naps brief and light, so that it is easier to wake up from it, and subsequently fall asleep later at night.

What’s the ideal amount of time to nap? Try limiting your naps to 15- 20 minutes, and better if you nap before 3pm so that it’s easier to fall asleep later on.

Pre-bed snacks

Certain foods can negatively impact your sleep, especially when eaten in the evening. These include:

  • chocolate
  • sugar
  • saturated fat
  • caffeine

A 2016 study also found that diets that are low in fiber and high in saturated fats and sugar can lead to sleep disorders.

On the other hand, foods high in healthy fats can help you get to sleep. Try:

  • walnuts
  • avocado
  • full fat milk
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • chia seeds
  • fish

To-do list

Worrying about the things on your to-do list can keep the brain overly active in the evening, making it hard to sleep.

Writing down your list of to-dos can help you feel more relaxed and in control, leading to improved sleep quality. Rather than ruminating, try putting pen to paper. This can give you a sense of closure: An action’s been taken, now you can get your rest.

Mind games

Although they may sound like end-of-day activities, reading mentally or emotionally stimulating books, problem-solving, or emotionally intense conversations can make it harder to drift off to sleep.

Over-stimulating your mind can lead to delayed falling asleep, or cause you to have a restless sleep or nightmares.

Instead of mental activities, try:

  • listening to soothing music
  • taking a warm bath
  • doing a gentle yoga session
  • doing self-massage
  • looking at a coffee table book with calming pictures
  • engaging in meditation or prayer

Soothing vs. stimulating scents

Scent can play a big part in your ability to sleep. Get the most out of aromatherapy with a diffuser by your bedside to help encourage sleep. Some oils can be stimulating, while others are calming.

Oils to avoid include:

  • peppermint
  • citrus
  • ginger
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • eucalyptus
  • jasmine

Instead, try:

  • lavender
  • sandalwood
  • rose
  • bergamot
  • ylang ylang
  • vetiver
  • sandalwood
  • cedarwood

While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.


Staying hydrated throughout the day can help you get your rest at night.

It can also help you make it to morning with enough liquid in your system. You may even want to drink a full 8 ounces of water an hour before bed, giving you plenty of time to take a bathroom break first.

Coffee after dinner

You may know that caffeine leads to alertness and wakefulness, but it can still be hard to say no to that afternoon coffee.

However, it’s probably not worth it.

You should be avoiding caffeine consumption in the afternoon through the evening hours in order not to disrupt your sleep. Instead, try an herbal or decaffeinated tea or warm, spiced milk.

Evening drinks

Even though alcohol can sometimes make you sleepy, too much can lead to poor sleep.

Because alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, you may find that you fall asleep more quickly after drinking. However, you may also find that you wake up or experience disruptive vivid dreams.

Although drinking may make you feel tired, it won’t get you the quality sleep you need.

Hot sleeping space

As mentioned above, it’s difficult to sleep when the body is too hot.

Keeping a window open or a fan going can go a long way toward cooling down your space. Though you don’t have to keep your room cool all day, you can take a moment in the evening to get the temperature lower before bedtime.

Bedtime routine

A wind-down routine can go a long way toward getting you the restful sleep you need.

Some ways to signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down before you hit your pillow include:

  • dimming the lights
  • diffusing essential oils
  • putting on calm music
  • moving from a large, open space to a cozier, more intimate space
  • turning off electronics
  • drinking a warm beverage
  • meditating
  • changing into pajamas

There are plenty of ways to create a bedtime routine that works for you.

The takeaway

There are lots of simple tricks you can use to tweak your daytime habits for better sleep.

If these lifestyle shifts don’t help, speak with a doctor about other solutions to help you establish a consistent, healthy sleep schedule.

DISCLAIMER: These posts should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat any health, medical, physical or psychiatric condition. Information shared via posts does not replace professional healthcare advice specific to your condition and needs. If you are unsure whether you would benefit from implementing tools discussed in these posts, please contact your healthcare provider.