The sleep series: Daytime habits for better sleep at night

by | Mar 18, 2022

Congrats—you’ve made it to the final installment of Noom’s sleep series! By now, you’re well aware that sleep is a critical part of the health equation, and getting enough of it is core to any health journey. That’s why our sleep series has covered everything from calculating your sleep opportunity and nighttime tricks for falling asleep faster to why—scientifically speaking—prioritizing your sleep can be a game-changer if you’re trying to lose weight and improve your health

Today, we’re bringing it all together as we explore the seven best habits you can build during the day to get better sleep at night. 

  1. Prioritize movement during the day. The positive effects on movement during the day on sleep quality are well established. Whether you start your day with a cycling class or take a long walk in the afternoon, you might be buying yourself many more minutes of restorative rest. If you’re short on time, see if you can fit in a four-minute workout. Note: Try not to get your movement in within an hour of your bedtime—this could energize your body when you want it to power down.
  1. Eat dinner a few hours before going to bed. If you eat a full meal just before bedtime, it may make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, because your body will start converting the food into usable energy, which puts you in a state of wakefulness. Had an early dinner but craving a late-night snack? Perfect: a small, nutritious bite before bed could actually help you drift off. 
  1. Try to avoid caffeine of alcohol leading up to your bedtime. Studies show that caffeine can continue to keep you awake for six hours or more after you consume it, and some doctors even recommending staying caffeine-free for eight hours before bed. When it comes to alcohol, while it can help some people relax and unwind, research shows that it can disrupt your sleep quality
  1. Avoid using your bed during waking hours—this includes watching TV or using your phone in bed! This habit helps train your mind to think of your bed as a sleep sanctuary. This way, when you get yourself tucked in, your body will know to get into rest mode.
  1. Be mindful of napping. For many people, the ability to nap is a perk of the work-from-home lifestyle—and naps can be rejuvenating and healthy. But if you nap for too long or you nap too late, you may have a harder time getting those sacred seven to nine hours at night. If you do nap, 15–20 minutes is often thought of as the ideal nap length and the ideal nap time is before 3:00 PM. 
  1. Stick to a regular schedule. Could you try getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends or vacations? This one may sound cruel and unusual—but we promise it’s actually an act of kindness to your body. Your brain loves a routine, and if you fall into one, you might just fall asleep like that *snaps fingers.*
  1. Bask in some sunshine. Daylight helps regulate our internal clocks, so your body knows to wind down when it’s time for bed. In general, 30–45 minutes of (safe) exposure to sunlight is often thought of as best, and the earlier you get it, the better for your circadian rhythm. Open your windows and blinds or walk outside—do whatever you can to expose yourself to natural light. Is sunshine unavailable to you? Research is inconclusive, but a light therapy box may be a helpful option. 

Any steps you take toward building any of these habits will be major progress on your health journey. See if you can pick just one to work on—it’s a great place to start. Then, you can supplement any of these habits with effective evening rituals for better sleep hygiene and calculate your sleep opportunity to make sure you’re getting into your best routine. Not sure which habit you’d like to start with? Sleep on it. And if you’re looking for support in developing health habits that stick, check out the Noom Weight program today.