There’s no doubt that sleeping is good for you. Who doesn’t enjoy waking up after a good night of sleep? Your body goes through a number of changes as you sleep, allowing you to get the rest you need for general health. Sleeping helps the body and brain to calm down and participate in healing processes, improving physical and mental performance both over the long term and immediately thereafter.
But we know that life can get hectic and busy very often, and sleeping enough does not always happen, and this can be due to sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless legs syndrome, among others. A few years ago, sleep insufficiency was declared a ‘public health epidemic’ by the US Department of Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So what can you do to get a great quality of sleep? Do you count sheep or meditate? Maybe you drink a chamomile or lavender tisane, or perhaps you’ve heard that taking a hot tub bath or stretching before going to bed might help sleep deeply…
We asked a handful of sleep professionals to provide advice and tips about how we can get the best sleep, and this is what they told us:
Can you share some tips to set a bedroom mood that promotes falling asleep faster?
Did you know the mood of your bedroom can impact your quality of rest? Here are some elements to consider as you get ready for bed each night.
Bright light disrupts your circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin. Avoid looking at electronic screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Consider investing in blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block light from the outside.
For light sleepers, even the smallest sounds can keep you lying awake. Earplugs or white noise machines can help you fall asleep faster, as well as binaural beats, which have been proven to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Smell & Touch
To help wind down before bed, use a diffuser with calming essential oils. Don’t forget to regularly wash your bedding–snuggling up in fresh sheets really does feel different.
Having a cluttered room is linked to higher feelings of stress. Try tidying up your room and keeping things organized. Rearrange furniture to create a more open, peaceful environment.
- Upgrade Your Sleep
At Reverie, we’re dedicated to providing you with innovative sleep solutions and give you the best sleep of your life–every single night.
Kelly Pineau | Lisa Tan
Can you provide some evidence-based tips for a better night’s sleep?
Getting a good night’s sleep is about much more than waking up feeling energized and rejuvenated the next morning.
If you get at least the seven hours of sleep that the CDC recommends for adults each night, you’re less likely to get sick, encounter serious chronic health problems, or feel stressed. Meanwhile, your well-rested self is more likely to be productive at work, to maintain a healthy weight, and to make sound decisions.
But how can you actually get enough shut-eye to unlock these benefits?
It all starts with consistency. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day—yes, even on weekends—will keep you in sync with your body’s Circadian rhythm, meaning you’ll feel more energized each day than if you’d slept the same number of hours, but at different times.
Does this sound a bit extreme? Then start by giving yourself a bit of wiggle room. Rather than saying you’ll sleep from 12:15 am to 7:15 am, you can aim to fall asleep sometime between 12:00 and 12:30 and to wake up between 8:00 to 8:30.
And as with so much about our health, a great deal depends on diet and exercise. Exercising regularly—but not right before bed—is key to successful sleep, and what you put into your body is no less important. Avoid spicy or acidic foods and alcohol before turning in for the night, and stop consuming caffeine after 2:00 pm to boost your chances of enjoying a restful sleep.
A good night’s sleep doesn’t require a radical reinvention of your habits. Sometimes it just means finding the right sleep hacks.
Lemonade Renters and Homeowners Insurance
What’s your best advice to beat insomnia?
Despite the countless positives of technology, there is still one enemy of sleep hiding behind your screens- And that’s ‘Blue Light.’ Blue light blocks the hormone melatonin, which is important in inducing sleep. If you are suffering from insomnia, try to put down your phones and PCs for at least two hours before sleep.
If you still can’t make a healthy sleep schedule, consult with your psychologist online or in person to help you out in developing good sleep hygiene.
Please briefly explain what circadian rhythms are, and provide some tips to improve them for better sleep.
Circadian Rhythm is your internal body-clock that helps regulate your alert and your sleep times, as well as many bodily functions. Most living organisms have a circadian rhythm. Its designed to tell your body when to do things such as release hormones, regulate your body temperature, and digest your food. And much of the good work is done while you’re sleeping!
The circadian rhythms comes from an area of your brain called the hypothalamus, which sits near the pituitary gland. If you want to imagine the location; it would be about the height of your ear-top and a few inches just above, and behind your eyes. It does an amazing amount of work for you throughout the day, yet many people have never heard of this hard-working gland! Things such as your metabolism, attitude, blood sugar levels, sleep-health, and weight are all greatly affected by whether your rhythm is balanced, or not.
There are things you can do to help yourself relax and keep a good circadian routine. Struggling to fall asleep, then stressing that you won’t get enough sleep is frustrating. Let’s discuss some tips for getting back into a good rhythm!
Try to go to bed at roughly the same time each night. Keeping to somewhat of a schedule helps your body learn to relax at the time you’re preparing to go to bed. This will help you fall asleep faster. Doing the same with your wakeup routine will continue to keep your body and rhythms in sync.
Try not to nap during the day for more than 30 minutes, as it can cause you to feel too-well rested, and not allow you to fall asleep easily that night.
Don’t exercise close to bedtime, it gets your heart rate up and adrenaline flowing. This is not conducive to winding down and becoming sleepy. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark for ultimate calm while sleeping.
Power off those electronics with blue light screens: tv, laptops, tablets and cell phones at least 30 minutes before you try to fall asleep. The wavelength the screens emit can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms. Reading a book or magazine before nodding off will be more beneficial to your sleep.
CEO & Founder
Could you provide some tips to manage the symptoms and minimize the impact of narcolepsy at home?
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder in which the people affected by it tend to experience sudden sleeping episodes and severe drowsiness due to the brain’s lack of control over the waking and sleeping cycles.
We believe that the following tips can help people with and without narcolepsy alike:
One of the first things we can do to improve our sleep hygiene is ask ourselves some questions and then set goals based on how we want to answer those questions.
What does healthy sleep look like? What does my current sleep schedule look like? How does sleep feel to me? How do I feel when I wake up?
These kinds of questions can guide us in setting goals. Maybe it’s setting a goal for how long we sleep and then slowly adjusting our bedtime to meet that goal. If we use screens before bed we can cut down or out our usage or switch to reading instead.
Consider your sleep environment, is it conducive to a good night’s sleep? We need to also consider things that may not seem connected to sleep quality, such as diet and exercise.
Small changes over time can have significant and long lasting effects and help us to be healthier overall. Our sleep routine can be one of the most rewarding times of our day if we will set up structures and practices that bring a calming and peaceful environment, rejuvenate our minds and bodies, and allow us to wake up ready to do whatever we need and want to.
Wake Up Narcolepsy Team
Regardless of the location or weather, what would you advice for sleeping better while tent or RV camping?
Each person sleeps a bit differently and can have their sleep interrupted by different things. I find that when I’m camping or travelling in an RV, finding ways to re-create my usual bedtime routine really helps me to sleep better.
I’m pretty lucky to be a heavy sleeper, but temperature, bedding comfort, bugs, sounds, and lights can all cause disturbances. Planning ahead and bringing a few extra items on your trip can make the difference between a dream outdoor getaway and a weekend from hell.
I tend to pack the following: a comfortable eye mask (this helps keep things dark), binaural beats playlist (with earphones), a portable USB-powered fan (in summer), an extra jacket (in winter), and organic insect repellant.
It also helps to plan to go to sleep at a reasonable time – if you’re camping, there’s no way to close the blinds when the sun rises. This is where a quality eye mask comes in handy. But keep in mind, during summer it might get hot early in the day pretty quickly, so a lazy sleep-in is out of the question.
Travel with Bender
What are the most common causes of nightmares or terrors and how can they be prevented?
Dreams and nightmares are the same phenomena, the only difference being that nightmares are unpleasant. During dreams (or nightmares) the brain processes information and consolidates memory. Scientists have shown that virtually all animals (even banana flies) experience REM sleep, which is where dreams most often occur. This goes to show how fundamental dream sleep is for the brain. So, while nightmares may be scary, they are just part of the brain doing its work.
Unless nightmares are very frequent and cause chronic sleep deprivation or psychological distress, there is no reason to actively prevent them. If on the other hand nightmares cause these things, it is important to consult a physician.
Causes of overly frequent nightmares can include stress, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and medication. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a particularly common cause, and nightmares are listed in the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.
Depending on the cause of nightmares, a physician might prescribe lifestyle changes, alter medication dosages, drugs such as prazosin, or psychological therapy. Again, it is only if nightmares are very frequent that treatment is required.
It is important to note that nightmares and night terrors are different phenomena. Nightmares are vividly remembered and experienced by people of all ages. Night terrors, on the other hand, are characterized by a remarkable physical response in the sleeper, but are generally not remembered, and typically experienced by children between the ages of four to eight.
Please provide some tips to help new parents and newborns get more and better sleep.
Divide and Conquer
New parents hear a lot about getting baby on a schedule but we recommend postpartum parents actually get on a sleep schedule themselves! By this we mean that parents decide on specific times during the night, or swap entire nights from 9pm-7am where one parent is baby’s sole caregiver and the other parent is completely off. We call this time “protected sleep.” The restorative benefits of protected sleep are vital to maintaining overall health, and splitting caregiving time so that parents each receive a full night’s rest.
4:7:8 Breathing Technique
After many nights of sleep deprivation, it can be difficult to get to sleep because our minds and bodies are used to being in an alert state. “4:7:8” is a type of simple meditation based on controlled breathing which can help calm this alert state and pave the way for sleep.
Here’s how to do 4:7:8:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue,
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- Now inhale again repeating the cycle three more times.
Caffeine isn’t always the answer!
New parents and coffee might seem inseparable, but it’s important to know that caffeine can also keep us awake when we don’t want to be.
Try these natural energy boosters instead:
Add Magnesium to your diet– An increase in magnesium can fight fatigue. Whole grains and fish are a great way to get this mineral.
Decrease Sugar – A sugar crash can compound effects of sleep deprivation even more! Healthier snack choices such as dried fruit or green-smoothies can curb a sweet tooth while giving a natural energy boost.
Drink Water – Staying hydrated helps keep us energized because it means that our muscles are receiving proper hydration. Additionally,
Ask for help
This is simple advice but can be hard to put into practice. Being sleep deprived means that you’re less alert even making car accidents and other mistakes more likely, so this is the time to call on family and friends to care for baby while you sleep. If this isn’t an option, try hiring a babysitter or other professional help if you can.
Let Mommy Sleep
What’s your best advice for decorating a bedroom for good Feng Shui and promote better sleep?
The traditional practice of Feng Shui not only focuses on good home design, but also the arrangement of internal living spaces which promote harmonious relationships, personal achievement and a sense of well-being. In particular the application of Feng Shui principles in the bedroom can positively affect almost all areas of your life, from health and happiness to career success.
Using soft, muted tones to decorate your bedroom, keeping electrical items to a minimum and placing the bed against a solid wall to create a stable sleeping position are just a few important factors which can create a sense of support and promote a good night’s sleep.
Feng Shui Today
What should I look for in a mattress for children?
Let us first explore the best way to get your kids to sleep longer.
Kids need about 9 hours of sleep a day. This is especially important for children under 5 years old. Sleep is vital for their development and growth as it helps them learn and grow during this critical time in their lives.
Most importantly, it is important that they have a good sleeping environment for them to get the rest they need without interruption from other factors such as light or noise.
Some parents have found that it is possible to get their child to fall asleep by putting them in a dark room and turning on a fan. This creates an environment that sounds like the ocean, which is often relaxing for children. You can also swaddle your child or give them a warm bath with lavender oil before bedtime.
Children are different from adults. Their needs and preferences change as they grow up. So, when shopping for a mattress for children, it is important to look at the size of the mattress and the thickness of the mattress. The best material for kids’ mattresses is memory foam because it can contour to the shape of the body and provide support while they sleep.
Breathable kids’ mattress protectors are a great way to protect your mattress from accidents. They are also a great way to keep your child comfortable when sleeping
How can students on a budget incorporate items into their sleeping space to enhance comfort and promote better sleep?
For students on a budget, a Sleepyhead mattress topper is an excellent investment to enhance sleeping comfort and overall sleep quality. It adds a layer of softness and support, which is especially beneficial if the existing mattress is worn or too firm. Moreover, quality sleep facilitated by a comfortable topper is directly linked to increased academic performance, as it helps improve concentration, memory retention, and overall cognitive function. The Gel Mattress Toppers come with cooling features and breathable materials, aiding in temperature regulation for a more comfortable sleep. Additionally, the Copper Mattress Topper is made with hypoallergenic properties, ideal for students with allergies. Toppers are portable, easy to clean, and come in various firmness levels, allowing for customization according to individual comfort preferences. Overall, a Sleepyhead mattress topper is an affordable and versatile choice for students, contributing significantly to improved sleep, which is crucial for academic performance and well-being.
What advice can you provide to manage the endometriosis symptoms and minimize their impact on sleep?
Endometriosis is a chronic pain condition that results in peripheral pain signals from the endometriosis lesions becoming amplified by the central nervous system (ultimately, by our brain). With poor sleep habits, there will be an effect on melatonin production, which will disrupt the circadian rhythm. Melatonin is essential for those that suffer from chronic pain, as it acts as an analgesic, sleep inducer, antioxidant, immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory agent. Some research propose that improving melatonin can help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis, such as painful periods, bladder pain, painful bowel movements and other daily pains these patients often have such as low back pain.
Diet is another important discussion around improving sleep, too, but can be complex, as many patients with endometriosis have dietary restrictions. One study found that when women incorporate a diet rich in dairy products and fruits they had improved sleep quality compared to those that did not follow that diet. However, dairy is not a part of an anti-inflammatory diet, which has also been shown to help endometriosis patients. As everyone’s body is different, it’s best to work with a Gastroenterologist and a registered dietician to determine your best nutrition plan to minimize symptoms and improve sleep.
Exercise has also been shown to improve sleep through it’s effects on melatonin. Endometriosis is associated with insulin resistance, and regular exercise has been shown to increase cellular insulin sensitivity. This means that insulin resistance is decreased with exercise, however keep your exercise reasonable and moderate. I recommend activities such as hill walking, pilates, swimming or yoga to incorporate into your daily routine.
Pelvic health physical therapists are uniquely positioned to prescribe exercises specific to your tolerance levels. They also evaluate the need for additional interventions, such as hands-on therapies, corrective exercises, nervous system down regulation exercises and more.
To locate a pelvic health physical therapist in the US, visit the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy.
To locate a pelvic health physical therapist or MD in the US and internationally that specializes in endometriosis, visit the International Pelvic Pain Society.
Femina Physical Therapy
How can people who work too many hours in front of a screen get more and a better/deeper sleep?
People who spend a lot of time in front of the screen might want to use light therapy to their advantage. They should get plenty of daylight first thing in the morning (ideally, within the first 30 minutes after waking up). If possible, they should also have lunch outside or even take a short walk and soak in the daylight. In the evening, however, it’s better to dim artificial lights in the house (at least 2-3 hours before bedtime).
CEO & Founder
Is CBD oil recommended to help achieve better sleep? who can use this?
Nevertheless, the CBD market has main significant gains in recent years and will continue to do so over the next five years – greater evidence and transparency to support health claims on products will also encourage more people to use the product.
Can you mention a few ways to detox a bedroom for a better quality of sleep?
- Upgrading your mattress. Most mattresses are made from a wide variety of materials, many of which off-gas all sorts of nasty VOCs–for years! For example, polyurethane foam typically contains chemicals like toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde—all of which are carcinogens. Check out our Safe Mattress Guide for help choosing a truly safe mattress.
- Investing in non-toxic pillows. Most of the issues pertaining to mattresses also apply to pillows.
- Switching to organic bedding. Sheets and comforters made from organic sources ensures that you don’t introduce pesticides and herbicides into your bedroom.
- Getting a non-toxic bed frame. “Wooden” furniture can be made from plywood that can outgas toxins (namely, formaldehyde) for years.
- Putting air filters in your bedroom. Unlike typical air fresheners, Moso’s nontoxic filters aren’t toxic to breathe, and scrub the air of VOCs. For more robust filtration, invest in a good electronic filter.
- Detoxing with plants. Plants do double duty by absorbing airborne toxins and producing clean oxygen. Here’s a list of the best plants for air purifying.
- Using only chemical-free laundry soap. Our Safe Laundry Detergent Guide can help you find safe detergents to wash sheets.
- Burning only 100% beeswax candles. Most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene. Beeswax candles have the added advantage of producing negative ions.
- Plugging in a salt lamp. These can be a great candle substitute and also produce negative ions, which are known to increase serotonin in the brain.
- Keeping any electronic appliances like clocks, cell phones, WiFi routers, computers, readers, etc. as far from the bed as possible. Electronic devices emit electromagnetic radiation which some feel can be detrimental to our health. Some of these devices also emit a spectrum of light that can be disruptive to sleep.
Gimme the Good Stuff
What are Sleep Deprivation and Sleep Apnea, and what can be done to minimize their impact?
Both sleep quality – and quantity – has been at a steady decline over the past few decades. Sleep deprivation can be defined as the inability to feel completely rested due to lack of sleep or unhealthy sleep, resulting in constantly feeling exhausted during the day. Surprising to most people is that consistently sleeping only 6 hours a night can result in sleep deprivation.
There are certainly some easy bedtime routine fixes to help you get better sleep, such as creating and sticking to a sleep schedule and/or reducing blue light exposure at night. However, if you’re consistently feeling sleep deprived, you could need a sleep coach, who can customize better sleep habits that fit your lifestyle, and help coordinate care for testing and treating a possible sleep disorder. When you or your sleep coach notices certain signs and symptoms of a sleep disorder, this could explain your sleep deprivation. You could also be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common condition and chronic disorder affecting millions, and often results in the feeling of sleep deprivation. If a patient has sleep apnea, while sleeping, they will repeatedly stop breathing during the night. Each pause in breathing is called “apnea” – meaning ”no breath”. This pause typically lasts 10 seconds or longer and happens regularly throughout the night. This causes episodes of decreased oxygen supply to the brain and other areas of the body, and can lead to serious health conditions like heart failure and stroke, as well as an exacerbation of symptoms associated with diabetes and depression.
If you’re struggling to sleep well and/or you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea – your doctor may prescribe an easy, at-home sleep test. If you’ve been diagnosed with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a great bedtime routine to help with sleep deprivation includes using Oral Appliance Therapy with a SomnoMed device, which will help you sleep better. This is a clinically proven, effective treatment for mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea. SomnoMed will help you get started with a proper sleep apnea diagnosis and assist with finding the right treatment option for you.
Teresa DeNike, BS CCSH
Sleep Consultant, Somnomed | Founder, SleepBetter NYC
At Porch, we love being able to bring you the best tips to help you improve your lifestyle. We believe that every single piece of advice provided here is a great tool to find your way into Morpheus arms. It is our hope that after reading this article, you can go to bed, welcome Mr. Sandman, and wake up feeling renovated so that you can do whatever you have to do during daytime. We thank each of the experts who participated in this round for sharing their experience and knowledge.