Getting enough sleep can make all the difference.

Without enough rest, our waking hours can be impacted in a negative way. We don’t function well without sleep, and if you’re not getting enough rest, it’s easy for your mind and body to feel overwhelmed, and your emotions out of whack. Getting enough sleep is also important for your health, not to mention your immune system.

But there’s more to getting a good night’s sleep than fluffing your pillow up and hoping for the best. The fact is that a restful night’s sleep starts long before you hit the bed. Your lifestyle and daily activities have a direct link to how much sleep you get and the quality of those z’s.

If you’re finding sleep to be elusive lately, or are waking in the night, unable to get back to sleep, you might consider making some changes to see if sleep comes easier as a result. Here are a few things that can help you fall asleep sooner and get a more restful sleep at night.

Have a Regular Sleep Schedule

Sleep schedules aren’t just for kids. Believe it or not, having a consistent sleep routine can help you to sleep better as well. Being consistent, and going to bed and waking at the same time can help to reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle, allowing you to get better sleep at night. There’s one catch though. Experts recommend that if you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, to get up and do something relaxing for a bit. Then go back to bed when you’re tired. Stressing too much over sleep can make it harder for you to fall asleep.

Pay Attention to What you Eat

What you eat and drink plays an important role in the quality of your sleep. While you might be aware of the effects that caffeine can have, most people don’t realize just how long it stays in the system. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, avoid coffee, or caffeinated foods and beverages – like chocolate or soft drinks, in the afternoon. Your dinnertime can also impact your sleep. Going to bed hungry can keep you awake, but going to bed on a full stomach can cause indigestion and discomfort. It’s also a good idea to limit your alcohol intake before bed. While it might make you tired at first, it will disrupt your sleep later on.

Exercise Daily

Exercising during the day can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling rested and ready to go the next day. Going outside and enjoying some fresh air is an especially good way to get exercise, and will help promote high-quality sleep at night. Just take care to avoid doing intense exercise just before bed – it may cause you to feel energized, which will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Wind Down Before Bed

“No one sleeps well with worries,” says Joyce Walsleban, RN, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at NYU’s School of Medicine. “They are too alerting. They will either keep you up or wake you up later on.”

Stress can come in many different forms. Being overloaded at work, having a disagreement with someone, or even having an overflowing to-do list can all keep you awake at night. Instead of taking your troubles into the bedroom with you, consider having a period of time before bed where you avoid all work-related tasks. Avoiding laptops, tablets, phones, and other screens before bed can also help you to sleep better. Instead of checking your email, use that time to reading a book before bed.

Write It Down

Journaling can help relieve you of the stresses of the day. You should also consider having a notepad by your bed to jot down those ‘pressing’ thoughts that are keeping you up. You might also consider making your to-do lists at night, to help ensure that you don’t stay awake thinking of everything that you have to do the following day, and worrying that you might forget.

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, the quality of your sleep is just as important as the number of hours that you get. While some situations – such as having a newborn or taking a business trip – will have an impact on your sleep, it’s important to strive to get as much high-quality rest as you can, when you can.

Our bodies are designed to rest – and not meant to function without sleep. It’s important to do everything you can to increase your chances of getting restful sleep at night. After all, your health, energy, happiness, and sanity are dependent on it!

What are your go-to tips for better sleep?