MOBE | For better sleep, plan your day right.

For better sleep, plan your day right.

Nothing feels better than waking up refreshed and renewed. And it’s no wonder: There’s a lot of rest and repair going on while your mind and body downshift into sleep. What happens when you get the 7–8 hours that most of us need?

  • Your mind reorganizes information and forms long-term memories.
  • Your brain clears itself of toxic byproducts. (1,2)
  • Your heart and vascular system get a well-deserved break as something called the “parasympathetic” nervous system takes over. (1)
  • Your body releases growth hormones that work to repair muscles and joints. (2)
  • Your immune system steps up production of the hormones that fight infection.

Why is quality sleep so hard to achieve?

Stressful thoughts may keep you up. Pain might make it hard to get comfortable. Aging can get in the way of sleeping deeply. Or, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for sleep challenges.

If this is you, you’re not alone. As many as one-third of American adults experience “short sleep duration.” That is, they regularly sleep fewer than eight hours a night—the amount most of us need for optimal health.

But here’s some good news that might surprise you: What you do during your day can make a big difference in how you sleep at night.

Plan your day for a good night’s sleep.

  1. Get your dose of daylight. Sleep experts recommend 30 minutes to an hour of exposure to morning sunlight if possible. Bright lights indoors can also help your body’s regulating “circadian” rhythms. (6)
  2. Cut your screen light. More screen time throughout the day is linked to sleep challenges. Evening screen time is the most harmful, when the “blue light” from electronic devices tricks your brain into staying alert. (5)
  3. Get moving. Research shows that people who exercise at least 2.5 hours each week sleep better and feel more alert. You don’t have to run marathons; brisk walks will do the trick—just not too close to bedtime. (6)
  4. Lighten up on later meals. Heavy meals and spicy foods too close to bedtime gets your digestive system going, which can interfere with sleep. Cut back on beverages, too, to avoid night-time bathroom trips.
  5. Forget the nightcap. Alcohol may relax you at first, but it can also rob you of the deep, refreshing sleep that helps your body repair itself. It can also cause you to feel more awake when the relaxing effects wear off. (6)
  6. Clear the clutter. Researchers aren’t entirely sure why but having a neat and tidy sleeping space is linked to better sleep habits. It’s possible that cluttered bedrooms contribute to worry or anxiety. (7)
  7. Make sleep space sacred. That means no working in bed. It can also help to keep the lights low, add a fan for white noise, and maintain a room temperature of 70 degrees or cooler. (6)
  8. Design your bedtime routine. It’s not just for kids. Whatever helps you relax, preps your body for sleep. Try a hot bath; the drop in your body temperature afterward is a proven sleep signal. (6)
  9. Set a go-to-sleep alarm. Set an alarm when it’s time to disconnect from the busyness of the day and start your bedtime routine. And no snoozing! (6)
  10. Write down your worries. Jot down what keeps you awake—and what you’re doing about it. Your mind can more readily let it go. Just be sure to do it earlier in the day to keep worrisome thoughts far from bedtime. (8)

Bonus: The dog’s okay! Research says a pet in the room doesn’t disturb human sleep, as long as it stays off the bed. (9)

Let a MOBE Guide help you get your zzz’s.

If you’d like to learn more ways to improve your sleep—and your overall well-being—a MOBE Guide can help. Get started today.


1. NHLBI. How Sleep Works. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
2. National Sleep Foundation. How sleep works. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
3. Data and Statistics: Short Sleep Duration Among US Adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. Study: Physical activity impacts overall quality of sleep. National Sleep Foundation. 2018. Accessed April 23, 2018.
5. Christenson MA, et al. Direct measurements of smartphone screen-time: Relationships with demographics and sleep. PLOS One. 2016. Accessed. April 24, 2020.
6. Your guide to healthy sleep. U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed April 24, 2020.
7. PV Thacher, SV Onyper, J Tuthill, 0373 DE-CLUTTERING THE BEDROOM AS A POSSIBLE SLEEP HYGIENE STEP TO IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY, Sleep, Volume 40, Issue suppl_1, 28 April 2017, Pages A138–A139,
8. 12 ways to shut off your brain before bedtime. PsychCentral. Retrieved 4-27-20.
9. Patel SI, et al. The effect of dogs on human sleep in the home sleep environment. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2017;92:1368