Your guide to a better future
Here’s how you can tackle poor sleep when a good night’s rest comes few and far between.
McKenzie is a certified Sleep Science Coach and mattress expert. She has personally tested over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows and mattress toppers. Before she was writing about sleep, she was writing music news for an online entertainment magazine. When she’s not writing, she likes to frequent her local farmer’s market and take her paddle board out on the water.
There are four things every person needs in life to survive: food, water, oxygen and sleep. The average person spends around 26 years of their life asleep, and it’s such a crucial part of regulating our physical and mental health.
In the short term, a good night’s sleep can help boost mood, improve decision making, knowledge retention and memory. In the long run, endless restless nights and poor sleep can lead to health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, depression and a weakened immune system.
If you’re struggling with getting quality rest, you’re not alone. In 2022, sleep issues seem to affect 50 to 70 million people across America, regardless of age or gender. The good news is that you can improve your sleeping habits by practicing good sleep hygiene and promoting a sleepy atmosphere. Just ask CNET’s health and wellness editors.
To help put poor sleep to rest, we rounded up our favorite sleep tips we swear by that we practice ourselves in our bedtime routines. Continue to see the tricks we use to fall asleep.
Before bed each night, CNET senior editor Nasha Addarich likes to apply LUSH’s Sleepy lavender lotion to help her fall asleep. Before skeptics stick up their noses to this one, there’s actual science behind utilizing aromatherapy for sleep. Lavender especially has proven its ability to help improve sleep and can even make you feel more refreshed when you wake up in the morning.
Writer and sleep science coach Taylor Leamey shared that her sleep tip is reading in bed each night before falling asleep. She describes it as her secret sleep weapon and admits it “puts her out like a light.” According to a study done by the University of Sussex back in 2009, reading just six minutes a night can increase relaxation and improve sleep quality. Taylor also eagerly attests to this.
Not to mention, reading is much more beneficial than scrolling through your phone before bed. Devices like your iPhone or Android emit a blue light that messes with your body’s natural melatonin production and prevents your body from recognizing it’s time for bed.
In addition to using reading to help you fall asleep, our editors also read in the morning to help feel more rested.
CNET editor Kim Wong-Shing explains, “I do a lot of the usual stuff (noise machine, consistent routine, CBD, etc.), but one other helpful thing that I haven’t heard elsewhere is reading a book as soon as I wake up.”
She continues, “Otherwise, I reach for my phone first thing, and between social media and work messages and whatever else, it immediately ruins any sense of restfulness that I might have gained from sleep. Whereas reading on my Kindle lets me wake up slowly and at a more natural pace.”
It turns out waking up more calmly without checking your phone is beneficial for your anxiety and sleep. One study published in the National Library of Medicine showed a link between high phone usage and higher sleep disturbances, stress and symptoms of depression.
Managing health and wellness editor Sarah Mitroff co-sleeps with her boyfriend and claims this sleep trick helped put an end to their blanket-hogging. She explained, “One of my least favorite parts of sharing a bed with any partner is the tug of war that inevitably happens over the blankets at night.”
“I stumbled upon a TikTok a year ago that presented a solution: Use two comforters instead of one. That way each person has their own blanket, and no one can hog your covers. I haven’t looked back since,” she said.
“There are a few ways to fit the covers on your bed: Overlapping or folded, using a coverlet/quilt or not. I currently have a queen-size bed and two matching twin-sized duvets that overlap and are tucked into the bottom of the bed. In the winter, we add a thin coverlet for extra warmth and to hide the two duvets.”
“One other way to do this is to not tuck in your duvets and use them as usual at night. Then to make your bed, fold the two duvets in half so they fit on top of the bed, without hanging down the sides, and cover with a quilt for that seamless look.”
Sarah also recommends you keep your room at an ideal sleeping temperature. She said, “Temperature is key to getting good sleep, but if you don’t have central A/C, it can be hard to get your room to the 60-67 degree Fahrenheit range that’s ideal for rest. Enter the humble window fan.”
Of all the items I’ve purchased to help me sleep better, this is my favorite. My bedroom window faces into a breezeway between my house and the one next to me, with no airflow at all. I could feel the cold air outside, but it had no way to naturally blow into the room.
With the window fan facing in, it pulls that cool air from outside and forces it in, cooling down my bedroom faster and better than my ceiling fan and two tower fans combined. I have the Holmes Dual Blade Digital Window Fan ($40) and can’t recommend it enough.
Your stretching routine should reflect the activities you want to do in life.
Wellness news writer Jessica Rendall likes to get grounded before she goes to bed — literally.
Jessica says,”I like to spend two to five minutes stretching every evening, right before I jump into bed. I find that getting on the ground to stretch not only relaxes tense muscles, but it ‘grounds’ me and connects me with my body so I feel less twitchy laying down.”
“I’ve tried to incorporate a whole nighttime yoga routine, but that’s unreasonable for me. I find just a few minutes of stretching has similar benefits when you focus on breathing and winding down while doing it. Normally, I focus on lower back and leg stretches, because that’s where I tend to be most tense, but you can switch it up as needed.”
If doing yoga in your bedtime routine isn’t your cup of tea, like Jessica said, gentle stretching can also do the trick. Stretches help loosen up the body and promote relaxation before bed. This can be particularly beneficial for people who work at a desk all day and help relieve tension in the shoulders, neck and back.
Editor and sleep science coach Caroline Igo likes to drink herbal tea such as chamomile, mint or sleepytime tea as her nightcap an hour and a half before bed. Besides being tasty, herbal tea (it’s caffeine free) has a soothing ability and can help promote calmness and ease anxiety before bed. Aside from tea, there are other natural aids that are just as good at making you feel more sleepy at night, including CBD oil, tart cherry juice and dried passion flower.
Fitness writer Giselle Castro-Slaboda’s sleep tip is simple. She says, “I used to use a sleep mask when I had issues sleeping last year, and I found it helped! Same with blackout shades and keeping the room cool. I’m one of those people that needs the room to be pitch black and cold in order to get a good night’s sleep.”
Sleep masks help block out light from external sources like windows, tech devices or other rooms in your home. Light and darkness help regulate our internal clock, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm. When it’s dark, it signals to our body that it’s time for bed and increases melatonin production, the hormone that helps promote sleepiness.
Blackout curtains offer the same benefit, and they also keep heat from shining into your bedroom and making it warmer. Speaking of heat, keeping your bedroom cool is also beneficial for sleep. Experts suggest you set your thermostat around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit to help maintain your body’s optimal sleeping temperature and prevent middle of the night disturbances.
As the sleep editor and sleep science coach, my favorite sleep tip is to flick off most of the lights in your home about an hour and a half before going to bed. I leave a small light on in my front room so I can still see, but the goal is to use dim or dark lighting to help kickstart your body’s melatonin production to help promote sleepiness.
For even more help on improving sleep quality, check out our article on how to sleep cool next to a hot-sleeping partner and how to stop yourself from tossing and turning.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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