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7 Ways to Sleep More Soundly each Night, Even During Sleepless Seasons

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Years ago when we were in business, Cheryl and I went through a difficult season in life. We had had such success, but times got hard. Dealing with employees, cash flow, banks and trying to increase sales so we could make payroll made for many sleepless nights. It was distressing. I was frustrated. And, because I couldn’t sleep, I was less productive during the day.

I’ve grown a lot since these days – and from these days and I’ve come to believe, unless there are health reasons why you cannot, we should be able to rest at night. I wish I had known then what I know now.

Over the years, I have learned a few secrets of sleeping better each night.

Here are 7 ways to sleep more soundly each night:

Exercise during the day

Sometime during the day, make yourself physically tired. Exercise not only works the body – it frees the mind. It helps you prepare to relax. There’s a power in physical activity which cannot be ignored. I try to exercise at least 5 days per week. During the sleepless days of business I mistakenly thought I was too busy to take the time – which was foolish on my part.

Eat healthy foods in adequate quantities

I’ve learned, for example, greasy foods don’t set as well on my stomach. You’ll have your own foods which don’t make you feel as well as you could. Also, if you eat too little you’ll wake up hungry. If you eat too much you won’t settle peacefully. Find the right quantity of food and discipline yourself to eat the right amount. This usually means eating until you are satisfied, but not stuffing your stomach. And, eating early enough for food to settle. We even find walking after we eat helps us rest better. Finally, for this point, staying adequately hydrated seems to help me sleep better. 

Put your day to bed

This is huge. For me it means reviewing my day and preparing for tomorrow. I spend a few minutes reflecting on what took place, what I can change and what I can’t, and then looking over my calendar for the next day. It mentally says “This day is over. A new day is coming.”

Be consistent

Even on weekends or when I’m out of town I keep pretty much the same schedule. Occasionally I’ll need to “catch up” on some sleep, but most of the time I’m in bed and out of bed  (without ever using an alarm) at the same time each day. Once it becomes a habit it’s not so bad – even getting up early. Seriously. We moved time zones in the last few years and there was another adjustment to make. Now my goal is 7 hours sleep a night. I can tell a difference when I don’t get it.

Invest in good bedding

Don’t be cheap when it comes to your mattress or bedding. I’ve learned you get what you pay for with this expense. Shop for quality, as well as price. There are mattress experts. Rely on them.

Write it down

Journaling can be a release from the day. Share your thoughts, concerns, fears and dreams. Get them off your chest then lay them to rest. (No rhyme intended, but it works.)


End with a release to God. Regardless of how stressful the day was give your burdens to the Burden-Bearer. I’m not trying to be cruel – just factual, but if worry is keeping you awake at night, you have a faith issue bigger than a sleep issue. I certainly did in the hard business season. Remember, Gid is on His throne – even as you sleep. (If you fall asleep while praying God won’t mind. Didn’t you enjoy watching your children fall asleep?)

There will always be exceptions when you still can’t sleep – sickness, sick children, etc., but it shouldn’t last long without impacting the rest of your life. And, if necessary, see your doctor. The older I get the more I realize how important sleep is for overall health and productivity. 

Try some of these and let me know how they work for you. I’m praying you learn some secrets for better sleeping.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What tips do you have?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • jimpemberton says:

    Great list! Excellent advice here. As I've gotten older I've had to learn these same things.

    The last one, prayer, is also good if you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. I keep a prayer list next to the bed. How many people have trouble staying awake during prayer or sermons? So if you can't sleep, pray. You'll either go back to sleep while you are praying or you'll accomplish something during those wee, sleepless hours.

    A couple of things I might add to the list:

    Unless you have a medical condition, don't get too reliant on medication to help you sleep. Your body will get used to it. I had gotten to where I was taking a single nighttime ibuprofen tablet before bed – every night. It really helped getting me to sleep. However, I started having trouble waking in the mornings. So I stopped taking it. I had a couple of rough nights, but once it was out of my system, I was back on a normal schedule. So those things might be good for the short term, but keep from being dependent on them.

    My mind seems wired to be a night owl. At bed time is when my mind is churning the most. It's when I write my best lessons for our education program at church, develop material for our missions efforts, or other such things. But I still need to go to bed. If this is like you, I have found that putting on something intellectually light on talk radio, soothing music (classical piano works best for me), or even a documentary to listen to, with whatever technology you use set to turn off at a certain point, helps keep my mind distracted enough to where it won't churn.

    Finally, if you can keep from looking at glowing screens as you approach bedtime, that helps too. I don't have the studies to cite at the moment, but I've heard them often enough, that the screens on all of our various devices these days actually go pretty far in messing with whatever wiring we have for getting sleepy when the sun goes down. So unplug and turn off these things toward bedtime.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have the verse from Proverbs on an index card by my bed, If I have trouble sleeping I try to "pray" that verse and it usually helps.

  • Amy says:

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can't turn your mind off, count breaths – "1" when you breathe in (long and slow), "2" when you breathe out (long and slow). Rinse. Repeat. When you find your mind wandering to other things that require more brain power (and your breaths becoming more shallow), go back to counting. 1,2.1,2… Within a few minutes, you should be relaxed, your brain should "turn off" and you should fall asleep**. Sometimes, it's a discipline to not think about anything.

    **I say "should" because one size does not fit all, no matter what you're talking about!

  • Agreed Ron! Thanks for the professional tips!

    Some more ideas —

    * Keeping our mind and thoughts pure always
    * Keeping our heart cool and composed at all times
    * Laughing uninhibitedly

  • Also, the universal tip I've most commonly heard is to turn off back lit things at least an hour before you're trying to go to sleep.

  • Ever since I was a small child, I was plagued by horrible nightmares; they increase with my stress level. However, after opening up and confessing this to some people, they all committed to pray for me… one woman even going so far as to ask for my schedule so she can pray when I an headed to bed, waking up, and once in between. I have slept better than I ever have in my life since they started helping me in this way.

    Often, peace comes from an act of humility, I'm finding.

  • Theresa

    Xanax. I only take one when my insomnia has hit the point of exhaustion. I do most of your list but for whatever reason 2am is my witching hour. Either I fall asleep or wake up at 2. Quite frustrating.

  • These are all great insights. I love your ability to "package" your thoughts to make it easy for others to apply. It's rare that I'm awake for more than 5 minutes when my head hits the pillow. Praying in that few minutes connects my spirit. I find my best nights of sleep almost always begin with "Goodnight, God." (If I make it that far) and end with "Good morning, God".

  • Kevin says:

    The reflection is critical – Toyota's lean manufacturing calls it "hansei" and it can easily be applied to both your personal and professional lives. Learn from today, plan for tomorrow, move on and go to sleep!

  • Chris Patton says:

    These are some really good tips Ron!

    I need to make a change with "Exercise". The change is that I need to start!

    I also like "Put your day to bed." I agree that the mind loves closure and this makes a lot of sense. I will try it!

    Thanks for the advice!