Transparency Disclosure — We may receive a referral fee for products purchased through the links on our site…Read More.

10 Self-Care Tips for Better Sleep

Self-care can take many forms, whether it’s eating healthily, exercising regularly, meditating, journaling, or just checking in with yourself. One of the most important ways to practice self-care, though, is to get quality sleep. 

The reason sleep is such a powerful part of self-care is that it impacts our physical, mental, and emotional health. We’ll go into these details and share some easy tips to help you achieve better overall health through sleep. 

Why Is Good Sleep a Part of Self-Care?

Consistent and sound sleep is a big part of self-care because it affects our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Let’s look at these three components in depth.

Physical Health and Sleep

Sleep is critical for your physical health because it impacts multiple aspects of it1. More specifically, sleep heals and repairs your heart and blood vessels, monitors your appetite and insulin levels, and supports a healthy immune system. Conversely, sleep deprivation can negatively affect these functions. For example, someone who is sleep-deprived can have a harder time trying to fight off a cold.1 

Additionally, sleep supports the release of the growth hormone, which explains why children and adolescents2 need more sleep than adults.1

Mental Health and Sleep

A 2021 meta-analysis3 found a causal relationship between sleep and mental health, meaning that participants showed improved mental health symptoms with better sleep quality. Some areas of mental health that were evaluated included depression, anxiety, and stress. In sum, this meta-analysis reveals that good sleep can help improve mental health symptoms.3 

Emotional Health and Sleep

Being sleep-deprived can heighten your emotions4, which makes you more susceptible to stressors. Specifically, our negative reactions are stronger when we’re tired and sleep-deprived, which may manifest as irritability, frustration, or sadness.4 You can probably think of a time when you didn’t get enough sleep, and minor inconveniences throughout your day seemed to bother you more than they typically would.

Benefits of Good Sleep

  • Improves memory and learningAccording to experts5, sleep helps with learning new things and strengthening our memory. More specifically, they say the non-rapid eye movement stages of sleep (NREM) are especially important for learning.5
  • Reduces stress levels – Research has found an association between sleep deprivation and increased stress levels. Specifically, a study6 of medical students who worked 24-hour shifts found that participants showed increased stress levels after being sleep-deprived due to their long shifts. 
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight – Sleep duration and quality are important for maintaining or losing weight. A 2022 study7 reported that increased quality and quantity of sleep boosted the chances of losing weight by 33 percent.
  • Reduces risk of heart diseaseRecent research8 found that adults aged 58-78 who had irregular sleep patterns were more at risk for heart disease than their peers who had good sleep patterns. 
  • Reduces mental health symptoms – Experts have found that better sleep quality is associated with improved mental health. A specific example from this research is that people with insomnia are more likely than those with this sleep disorder to experience higher levels of depression and anxiety.3
  • Strengthens your immune systemResearch from 20219 explains that regular sleep helps maintain homeostatic immune functioning, which helps fight off infection and disease.
  • Helps regulate emotions – Being sleep deprived can heighten your emotional sensitivity, so getting enough sleep every night should help you maintain a more steady emotional balance.4

How Does Self-Care Improve Sleep?

Self-care combines practices to boost our physical and mental health. The great news here is that many healthy habits for good sleep overlap with common self-care practices. We’ll discuss some self-care sleep tips below and explain why these self-care practices can positively impact your sleep. 

Self-Care Sleep Tips

1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a great way to practice self-care. Physical activity10 helps manage your weight, reduce the risk of disease, and strengthen your body. Not only that, but exercise can improve your cognition11 and positively impact your brain function. 

Additionally, research has shown that physical activity can improve sleep quality and duration12, along with helping people fall asleep more quickly. 

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

Good nutrition13 lowers the risk of serious health problems and helps keep your body physically fit. With regards to sleep, a 2020 study14 revealed that foods containing tryptophan, phytonutrients, and melatonin can help improve sleep quality. 

Some foods that contain tryptophan15 are beef, pork, dairy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Foods containing phytonutrients16 include many fruits and vegetables. Finally, some foods with high melatonin17 levels are fish, eggs, and tart cherries18

3. Don’t Eat Too Late at Night

Health experts suggest that you stop eating about three hours19 before you go to sleep. This time frame gives your body enough time to digest the food before bedtime. Further, recent research20 has demonstrated that eating within that three-hour window is associated with at least one nighttime awakening. 

4. Manage Stress

Being stressed can take a toll on us physically and mentally. To manage stress, the CDC21 suggests that you meditate, exercise, eat well, and get good sleep. 

While good sleep can help lower your stress levels, did you know that managing your stress can help you sleep better, too? High stress levels can make falling and staying asleep more difficult22. Stress and sleep deprivation have the potential to become a vicious cycle; if you’re not sleeping enough, your body’s stress hormone levels rise, which can disrupt your sleep even more.22 

5. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

While you may already know that drinking caffeine at night can harm your sleep schedule, you might not have realized that drinking caffeine in the afternoon is not ideal either. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to six hours23, so try to drink your last cup of coffee earlier in the day so you don’t disrupt your nighttime rest.

Additionally, a 2019 study24 found that alcohol and nicotine use in the evenings were both associated with lower quality sleep compared to sleep without the use of these substances. In hopes of improving your sleep quality and taking care of yourself, avoid or limit alcohol and nicotine use, especially in the evenings.

6. Have a Relaxing Nightly Routine

Having a relaxing nighttime routine is a way to take care of yourself because it allows you to unwind after a long day and prepare for a good night’s rest. If you have a consistent routine that you practice every night, you’ll begin to condition your brain and body25 to feel sleepy around your bedtime. 

Some practices we suggest for a relaxing bedtime routine are reading, drinking non-caffeinated tea, practicing yoga, listening to calming music, taking a warm bath, or meditating. All of these practices should help to calm your body, reducing your stress hormone levels and promoting easier, better sleep.22

7. Avoid Electronics Before Bed

Electronic devices use blue light26, which can suppress your melatonin levels and shift your circadian rhythm. As a result, this can make it more challenging to fall asleep when it’s time for bed.26 Instead of using electronics before bed, we recommend reading a book or listening to music at night to help yourself wind down.

8. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

If you go to sleep around the same time each night, your body will begin to start feeling sleepy around that time each night.25 The American Academy of Sleep Medicine27 recommends going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day, even on the weekends. 

Along with going to sleep at a consistent time, getting the proper amount of sleep is just as important. Sleep health experts28 suggest that adults sleep between seven and nine hours nightly. Also, keeping a set schedule can help ensure you set aside the appropriate amount of time to get enough hours of shuteye.

9. Invest in a Quality Mattress 

Investing in a good mattress is another great way to prioritize your sleep and wellness. There are top-quality mattresses for all types of sleepers and their varying needs. If you haven’t bought a mattress in a while, check out our in-depth guide with tips on choosing a mattress to help you narrow down your options. 

Discover our favorite mattresses for 2024

10. Make Your Bedroom Comfortable and Stress-Free

Our last suggestion to help you have a better night’s rest is to keep your bedroom comfortable and stress-free. The ideal temperature to sleep in is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit29. Furthermore, keeping your room dark and quiet can further facilitate better sleep. While a quiet room helps eliminate distractions, keeping out light can help boost melatonin production to help promote sleep.26

We also recommend that you keep your bedroom clean and tidy. A study found that household chaos30 was associated with negative socio-emotional outcomes, including increased stress levels. When your stress levels are higher, it’s more challenging to sleep well.22

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sleeping a form of self-care?

Yes, sleeping is a form of self-care. Quality sleep positively impacts our mental, physical, and emotional well-being, so if we get good sleep, we take care of ourselves.1

Why should I care about sleep?

There are endless reasons why you should care about sleep and prioritize getting good sleep every night. Sleep can improve your memory and learning, reduce stress, help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve your mental health, strengthen your immune system, and help regulate your emotions.3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Does self-care improve mental health?

Yes, self-care can improve mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health31, self-care practices such as sleeping, eating regular meals, exercising, relaxing, and practicing gratitude and positivity can improve mental health.

Emma Cronan

Emma Cronan


About Author

Emma is an Editorial Intern for Sleep Advisor. She collaborates with the editor and staff writers to come up with article ideas, create article outlines, and write for the website.

Combination Sleeper


  1. “How Sleep Affects Your Health”. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Last modified June 15, 2022.
  2. “Are You Getting Enough Sleep?”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified March 4, 2024.
  3. Scott, Alexander J., et al. “Improving sleep quality leads to better mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials”. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2021.
  4. Vandekerckhove, Marie., Wang, Yu-lin. “Emotion, emotion regulation and sleep: An intimate relationship”. Aims Neuroscience. 2018.
  5. “Sleep On It: How Snoozing Strengthens Memories”. National Institutes of Health News in Health. 2013.
  6. Morales, Jose., et al. “Stress and autonomic response to sleep deprivation in medical residents: A comparative cross-sectional study”. Plos One. 2019.
  7. Papatriantafyllou, Evangelia., et al. “Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance”. Nutrients. 2022.
  8. Full, Kelsie M., et al. “Sleep Irregularity and Subclinical Markers of Cardiovascular Disease: The Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis”. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2023.
  9. Garbarino, Sergio., et al. “Role of sleep deprivation in immune-related disease risk and outcomes”. Communications Biology. 2021.
  10. “Benefits of Physical Activity”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified August 1, 2023. 
  11. Singha, Ranjit. “Lifestyle Factors and Cognitive Health”. Intelligent Solutions for Cognitive Disorders. 2024.
  12. Alnawwar, Majd A., et al. “The Effect of Physical Activity on Sleep Quality and Sleep Disorder: A Systematic Review”. Cureus. 2023.
  13. “Nutrition: Why It Matters”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified January 25, 2021.
  14. Binks, Hannah., et al. “Effects of Diet on Sleep: A Narrative Review”. Nutrients. 2020.
  15. Zuraikat, Faris M., et al. “Sleep and Diet: Mounting Evidence of a Cyclical Relationship”. National Library of Medicine. 2021.
  16. McManus, Katherine D. “Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow”. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. 2019.
  17. Meng, Xiao., et al. “Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin”. Nutrients. 2017.
  18. Howatson, Glyn., et al. “Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality”. National Library of Medicine. 2012.
  19. “Is it Bad to Sleep After a Meal?”. UPMC HealthBeat. 2022.
  20. Chung, Nikola., et al. “Does the Proximity of Meals to Bedtime Influence the Sleep of Young Adults? A Cross-Sectional Survey of University Students”. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020.
  21. “Coping with Stress”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified November 30, 2021.
  22. Dusang, Kaylee. “How stress can affect your sleep”. Baylor College of Medicine. 2019.
  23. Drake, Christopher., et al. “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed”. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2013.
  24. Spadola, Christine E., et al. “Evening intake of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine: night-to-night associations with sleep duration and continuity among African Americans in the Jackson Heart Sleep Study”. Sleep Research Society. 2019.
  25. Rehman, Ibraheem., et al. “Classical Conditioning”. National Library of Medicine. Last modified August 14, 2023.
  26. “NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified March 31, 2020.
  27. “Healthy Sleep Habits”. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Last modified August 2020. 
  28. “How Much Sleep is Enough”. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Last modified March 24, 2022.
  29. “What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep?”. Cleveland Clinic. 2021.
  30. Marsh, Samantha., et al. “The relationship between household chaos and child, parent, and family outcomes: a systematic scoping review”. BMC Public Health. 2020.
  31. “Caring for Your Mental Health”. National Institute of Mental Health. Last modified February 2024.