How to Sleep Better: The $70 Billion Question

The ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

9. Drink water, not coffee in the morning

If you typically wake up feeling like coffee is the only thing that will save your poor broken soul, we get it. But according to the sleep experts, it could be contributing to your feeling of ceaseless fatigue if it’s the first thing you drink. “Sleep is a dehydrative event—you lose almost a full liter of water just by the humidity in your breath so you wake up dehydrated,” Breus says. Coffee is a diuretic, so when that’s the first thing you drink, it just ends up making you more dehydrated. “That certainly is going to have an effect on your overall energy level,” Breus says.

10. Try to avoid electronics

Screen time is like kryptonite for a good night’s sleep. “The light that is emitted from any device has a blue frequency. That wavelength hits a specific cell in your eye called a melanopsin cell, and it turns off the melatonin fostered in your brain,” says Breus. Coupled with the brightness of the light itself, it signals your brain to stay awake. But unless you have perfected the whole ditch your devices for a book thing (which, congrats) it’s hard to avoid all screen time before bed. So sleep experts recommend being strategic about it. “There’s a difference between a television, a phone, a tablet, and a laptop. The main difference is proximity,” Breus explains. “If I’m watching television, it’s all the way across the room. But if I’ve got my phone, it’s only probably about 16 inches from my eyeballs. The proximity of the light from your phone, from your tablet, or from your laptop is pretty significant as opposed to light coming from across the room.”

11. Seriously, stay off your phone

Aside from the fact that your phone screen delivers the biggest dose of sleep-disrupting light, using your phone also tends to be more stimulating than watching something on Netflix. “If you’re trying to get your high score on Candy Crush, or you’re watching on your tablet the last episode of Game of Thrones, you’re really not getting yourself set up for sleep, right?” Breus says. “There’s such an emotional valence to things like Facebook and email and game playing. Handheld devices are far more interactive.”

12. Go dark at night

“We are a dark deprived society in this modern era, and we need that darkness at night to release melatonin,” says Walker. “If we’re not getting darkness at night, then that can be problematic.” Luckily, there are some really basic solutions: room darkening curtains or an eye mask. “Another trick is to try to dim down half of the lights in your home in the hour before you go to sleep,” he adds. “You will be surprised at how sleepy that actually makes you.” Consider this your excuse to burn that fancy candle.

13. But maximize natural light during the day

“Every single morning, people should be getting 10 to 15 minutes of direct sunlight to help them reset their circadian clocks,” says Breus. Even on a cloudy day, “the strength of light outside is typically many fold stronger than a bright office inside,” adds Walker. “Some kind of natural light exposure, even if it’s working next to a window, is great. If you don’t have that opportunity, try to take a break during lunchtime to get outside.”

14. Get a white noise machine

“We know noise pollution can wake people up, even if they’re not consciously aware of it,” says Walker. A white noise machine can mask whatever is going on outside your window so you stay in dreamland all night.

15. Spruce up your sheets

“I believe that sleep is a performance activity, and like any performance activity, you need the right equipment in order to perform,” says Breus. Luxe sheets, cozy pillows, a fancy duvet that makes you want to take endless #bedstagrams, all can have an added performance benefit for sleep, Breus says. You don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars for a night of rest but “if you have an uncomfortable bed, there’s no question it’s going to make your situation worse,” Breus says.

16. Pay attention to how quickly you fall asleep

“Anybody who falls asleep in under 10 minutes—like people who fall asleep as their head hits the pillow—that’s not a good sign,” says Breus. It seems counterintuitive, but if you’re passing out the minute you climb into bed, it’s a sign of sleep deprivation, he says.

17. Get the right pillow

Not all pillows are created equal. Depending on whether you sleep on your back, your stomach, or your side, you need different types of support for the best sleep quality. Breus also recommends replacing your pillow every 18 months in order to get the best night’s rest.

18. Choose the right alarm

Why does the default alarm sound always sound like the world is ending? That kind of abrupt jolt out of bed can leave you feeling groggy. For a gentler wake up that mimics a natural rise, try an alarm that incorporates a gentle light and gradual sound, so you can wake up feeling refreshed (rather than panicked).

19. Meditate

“The number one thing that I hear in my office is, ‘Dr. Breus, I can’t turn off my brain at night,’” Breus says. “Sleep requires some runway. It’s not an on/off switch. There’s a process that needs to occur there and we need to let that process happen by giving our body the opportunity to fall asleep.” Meditation is one such way to help quiet your mind to get you in the right headspace for sleep. If you don’t have a meditation practice, try spending five minutes before bed going over what made you happy that day.

20. Do yoga

Yoga can help accomplish that same goal. “I personally and deeply believe in learning how to pull the tension out of our body and I’ve learned to do it through yoga,” says Lisa Sanfilippo, author of Sleep Recovery. “It doesn’t have to be a long series of movements. It can just be your time to actually come back into your body.”

21. Don’t overthink it

The rise of wearables has brought with it a flood of sleep data. You can track your sleep latency, your sleep efficiency and your sleep need. For some, that’s not a good thing. “For the most anxious amongst us that can actually be problematic where it becomes a reinforcing self-fulfilling prophecy where you have this device that’s constantly telling you how poorly that you’ve been sleeping,” says Walker. The quantified-self has actually led to a phenomenon sleep doctors call “orthosomnia.” “Orthosomnia is people obsessed with getting their sleep straight and becoming a little bit perfectionist about it, getting anxious when they can’t,” Walker says.

22. Prioritize it

All these tips add up to one thing: if you want to know how to sleep better, start by prioritizing sleep. We’re working longer hours than ever and “nobody when they come home later wants to sacrifice time with friends, family, their significant other, or Netflix,” says Walker. The first thing to go? Sleep. If you want to get more rest, start by giving yourself the chance to get it.

Sleep is a $70 billion industry—we throw our money at a dreamier night’s rest, promise ourselves we’ll prioritize it, and then gripe when we’re still, inevitably, so tired. Despite our collective obsession with sleep, we seem totally unable to get more of it. In fact, we’re clocking fewer hours than ever. So, this month, we’re taking a look at what’s getting in the way—and what to do about it.

Macaela MacKenzie is a Senior Editor at Glamour.

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