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Fitness tips that can improve your sleep, from a sleep expert

April 12, 2022
The most effective tips for healthy goals are based around motivation and habits. Whether it’s weight loss or better sleep, here are four proven ways to meet your goals.

Be honest—did you set intentions for self-improvement in 2022? Are you finally making dental and medical appointments? Working on your fitness? Are you considering prioritizing sleep health?  

The remarkable thing about self-improvement and fitness is that you can’t optimize either without quality sleep. Sleep is not a pillar of good health; it’s the foundation. Through countless studies and anecdotal information, quality sleep is known to improve your athletic performance1 memory, and mood.  

On the flip side, sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain2, relationship stress, worsened anxiety and depression, forgetfulness, and even Alzheimer’s dementia3.

The science is clear—to live a healthier and happier life, you need to prioritize quality sleep. While that might sound impossible in this hectic, post-pandemic reality, below are a few tips that can be helpful for any healthy changes in your life, especially sleep.

Identify your “why”

This is simple yet powerful tip is a well-known motivator. Instead of focusing on the results you want, think about the kind of person you want to become, and what you could gain when you reach your goal. What’s your motivation to get in better shape? You can ask yourself the same question about improving your sleep health! For example: 

  • I want to have more energy to enjoy time with my kids
  • I want to improve my focus at work so I can get a promotion
  • I want to stop snoring and sleep in bed with my partner again
  • I want to improve my health since cardiovascular disease runs in the family

Your why reminds you of your purpose and your long-term goals. This is especially helpful when you’re working hard to make difficult changes in your life. Even if you’re under the care of a doctor for sleep apnea, insomnia, or another sleep disorder, the prescription devices and medications can’t do ALL the work for you. Identify your motivation stay on track with your treatment and/or lifestyle changes. This way, you’ll see real, sustainable improvements over time.  

Use the right “equipment”

Depending on your workout, you might need different equipment. The materials will be different, but the idea is the same for sleep. Your sleep "equipment" can be anything that helps with relaxation, temperature, treatment, or tracking, such as:

  • Relaxing scents from essential oils 
  • Bedding made from organic and/or cooling materials
  • Oral appliance or CPAP for sleep apnea
  • Fitness and sleep-tracking “wearables” 

Keep in mind, more is not always better when it comes to sleep equipment. Find what works for you, and don’t obsess over all the latest gadgets. Sleep is a natural and necessary process—you are just trying to optimize it.  

Not everyone has the privilege of a quiet bedroom with essential oils and luxury bedding. If this is the case for you, focus on blocking out light with blinds or a sleep mask, and put away your electronics. Electronics and screens are equipment everyone should avoid before and during sleep. 

Stick to a routine

Routines don’t have to be complicated, but they do have to be consistent.  

Routines help you to manage time and train your brain. The human brain loves finding patterns and makes associations all day long. It wants to predict what is going to happen next, so sleeping better starts the moment you wake up. 

You can start to feel more alert naturally if you make a habit of doing the same few things every morning. The same goes for winding down at night, which is why I recommend a “wind down” time rather than a bedtime. For example, aim to spend 30-60 mins getting ready for the next day, drinking your tea, and taking your meds before preforming your skin care routine. Do this around the same time, in the same order each night. Within a few days of this consistency, your brain will start to associate these actions with sleep. You will find yourself feeling less anxious and falling asleep faster.

Also by Teresa Power DeNike:
Sleep divorce? How a sleep apnea device can save your marriage

Work with a coach

If you’re having trouble getting started or knowing which equipment to use, what kind of routine to follow, and the root cause of your sleep situation, you have several options. Some include: 

You can spend time searching through articles, posts, studies, videos, and workshops for recommendations.

You can work with sleep coach to help gather information and tools that will be helpful to you.  

If your personal fitness trainer is your coach, and they aren’t talking about your sleep—get a new one. A good coach can help you stay on track, hold you accountable, and refer you to a specialist if needed. Your coach can guide you, and their encouragement can have a big impact on your motivation, especially if things aren’t improving easily or as quickly as you’d hoped. With this support, you can truly improve your sleep and quality of life.  

Last, remember to give yourself a little grace as your work on self-improvement. Just like weight loss takes time, optimizing your sleep quality takes time. Consistency and coaching can help make these changes long-lasting.


1. Vitale K, Owens R, Hopkins S, Malhotra A. Sleep hygiene for optimizing recovery in athletes: review and recommendations. Int J Sports Medicine. 2019; 40(08): 535-543. doi:10.1055/a-0905-3103

2. Newsom R. Weight loss and sleep. Sleep foundation. March 11, 2022. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/weight-loss-and-sleep

3. National Institutes of Health. Lack of sleep in middle age might increase dementia risk. April 27, 2021. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/lack-sleep-middle-age-may-increase-dementia-risk