We’ve all needed it: a little something to help us fall asleep at night. Here are our tips for better sleep.
Considering that 68 percent, or an estimated 164 million Americans, ”[struggle] with sleep at least once a week,” according to Consumer Reports, it’s no surprise that we seek out sleep aids. As children, we had a favorite stuffed animal or a blanket—until we progressed to a beloved pillow, a coveted pair of jammies, or fluffy bedtime socks. Our bedtime rituals are all a little different, and many of us need some kind of comforter—pun intended—to help us stop counting sheep.
If you read our article, 5 Tips for Creating the Ideal Sleep Sanctuary, then you already know getting a good night’s rest means keeping it cool—the bedroom, that is—as well as minimizing exposure to blue light and using sound to your advantage. Of course, depending on where you live, some of these tasks can be difficult to accomplish without a little help. Luckily, we’ve compiled a few of these helpful tips and tricks to ensure that you can really settle in for the night.
Skip the jammies and sleep in the buff!
Marilyn Monroe reportedly did it, and apparently it can definitely help you get a good night’s sleep. According to Ellen Wermter, FNP-BC, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, “It’s best to sleep in the buff and layer your bedding for easy adjustment throughout the night.” Additionally, using cooling sheets can ensure that you maintain a comfortable body temperature, especially if you live in a warmer climate. By skipping your pajamas and focusing on bedding instead, you can eliminate nightly annoyances—like struggling to escape a sweatshirt—and just throw back a layer of blankets with minimal impact to your sleep.
Think about doing—ahem—it?
According to Chris Brantner, the Certified Sleep Science Coach and founder of SleepZoo.com, “A recent study investigating sex as sleep therapy from Dr. Michele Lastella of Central Queensland University, Adelaide, found that sex before bed leads to better sleep. The science: sexual activity that leads to orgasm releases endorphins and dopamine, both of which help reduce stress and calm the body, setting the stage for better sleep.” So, if you find yourself tossing and turning, take a little time for something else that comes naturally. You might just be able to catch the Zs you need.
Listen to music
It may seem contradictory, since we’ve already mentioned the importance of a silent sleeping environment, but for some people, using music or a white-noise device can help block out disruptive sounds like car horns, barking dogs, and neighbors. Of course, when it comes to music for sleep, all composers are not created equal. GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC, of PsychPoint, explains, “If you need noise, use instrumental music or tracks with nature, but no dialogue or lyrics.” If you fall asleep while watching the TV or listening to lyrical tracks, “the conversation keeps the language and communication centers of the brain active, even after slipping into dream mode, which prevents a restful night’s sleep.”
Music therapist Noel Anderson also notes the importance of choosing the right kind of music. “The music should be something that the individual feels is relaxing to their body and mind,” she notes. “There should be little to no change in volume and tempo throughout the piece. Also, the piece should be instrumental, without lyrics.” If you are a sleeper in need of a little musical aid, one artist we like is Kip Mazuy. Based out of New Zealand, Mazuy’s Bliss Music features a wide variety of tunes that are specially crafted for lulling one into a deep state of relaxation.
Try new light bulbs
Over the past few decades, fantastic improvements have been made in the light-bulb world. Unfortunately, this artificial light often infringes upon our sleep habits. But don’t stress! Along with other developments in artificial light, scientists have also come up with a bulb specially designed to help you sleep at night.
Lighting Science creates special LED lights that “help you stay alert and awake during the day and achieve restful sleep at night.” The bulbs, which claim to regulate circadian rhythms by “exposing you to the right light at the right time,” come in multiple models, including SleepBaby, a light for little ones, as well as lights designed to help you fall asleep faster.
And light-bulb technology is continuing to advance—“smart bulbs” allow lighting to be scheduled and controlled remotely. In fact, we can’t help but mention a bit of product placement here—that our Nokia Sleep is a sleep-sensing and home-automation pad that is able to control smart home-enabled devices, including lighting, just by getting in and out of bed via IFTTT integration.
If energy and focus have begun to sound more like luxuries than basic amenities, maybe it’s time for you to get cozy with a sleep helper. Whether it’s curling up with your dog or investing in a noise-maker and lighting system, everyone deserves a way to fall asleep fast and stay asleep.