Eight Sleep Tips from the Experts

Many people occasionally have trouble getting to sleep, while others may struggle to sleep on a more regular basis. Either way, there are things you can do to get better sleep. Try these eight helpful sleep tips from the experts to help you fall asleep.

1. Make Sleep a Top Priority.

According to certified pediatric sleep consultant Kerrin Edmonds, sleep is a biological necessity, not a luxury. The first step in getting healthy sleep is to make it a priority.

“Our society doesn’t place enough emphasis on sleep,” explains Edmonds. “When we don’t get enough sleep, the human body can’t properly rest and rejuvenate itself. Insufficient sleep also changes how we respond to stress, weakens our immune system, and affects our overall health. To sleep better, we need to change how we think about the importance of sleep.”

People often sacrifice sleep to meet life’s other demands, such as work, school, parenting and other responsibilities. In turn, the lack of sleep leaves you with less energy to meet those demands efficiently.  To hit the ground running each day, schedule a bedtime that allows you to get a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and stick to it. Getting good sleep won’t give you more time, but it will help you make better use of the time you have.

2. Prepare the Mind.

Health and wellness expert Dr. Kathy Gruver explains that difficulty falling asleep is often more of a mental than a physical problem. Worrying about the future, rehashing events that occurred during the day, and other negative thought patterns can make it harder to fall asleep. To calm the mind and change negative thought patterns to positive ones, Gruver recommends using affirmations and breathing exercises. For example, while breathing in and out slowly and deeply, tell yourself, “I fall asleep quickly and easily, and wake up feeling refreshed.” This helps to relax the body and shut out negative, worrisome thoughts so the mind can more easily shift into sleep mode. Any mantra or phrase that works for you is a good one.

3. Prepare the Body.

A registered dietician and nutrition expert, Vicki Shanta Retelny offers several “hygiene rules” for getting the body ready to go sleep:

Start preparing for bed at least an hour before bedtime. This gives the mind and the body time to slow down get ready to sleep.

Avoid eating food or drinking alcohol for two hours prior to bedtime. A full stomach is not conducive to falling asleep.

Make the room completely dark, as light prohibits the pineal gland from secreting adequate melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy).

Keep the cell phones out of the bed. Late night “screen time” can make it harder to fall asleep, shorten sleep duration, and lead to daytime sleepiness.

4. Develop a Routine.

If you have difficulty falling asleep on a regular basis, sleep coach Amy Korn-Reavis recommends establishing a routine to be followed every night. First, keep the room cool, as humans sleep better in cooler temperatures. Turn down the lights about 30 to 40 minutes before you go to bed and stop using all electronic devices. This allows the brain to begin producing Melatonin, a key ingredient for inducing sleep. “The key is to develop a routine that works for you, and practice it every night,” says Korn-Reavis. “That signals the brain that it’s time to go into sleep mode.”

5. Try a Weighted Blanket.

According to Eileen Parker, author of The Weighted Blanket Guide this unusual technique is frequently used in hospitals to help patients calm themselves and get to sleep. A weighted blanket consists of two pieces of fabric sewn together with a weighted filling on the inside. The pressure on the body from the extra weight overrides other signals to the brain that might be preventing sleep, making it easier for the brain to calm down and drift off into sleep.

6. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices.

Health advisor Wendie Trubow offers several useful sleep strategies, including:
Limit your caffeine intake throughout the day, as it can affect sleep patterns even if you only drink it in the morning. Get plenty of regular exercise. This will increase your endorphins and improve your sense of wellbeing, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Before going to bed, make a list of all the things in your brain and then consciously let go of them until the morning. If you find yourself worrying about events that happened during the day, visualize putting them behind a door and locking it. Try to get to bed no later than 10:00 p.m. Staying up late can increase the production of cortisol, a hormone interferes with sleep. “Try to avoid sugary, processed foods,” adds Trubow, “as these can alter your sleep, hormones and mood.”

7. Don’t Stress Over the Lack of Sleep.

Although not a certified sleep expert, orthopedic surgeon Barbara Bergin often finds herself giving patients advice on how to fall asleep and enjoy a better quality of sleep. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, don’t fret over it, as that will only make it worse. Instead, read a book or engage in some other quiet activity to take your mind off the fact that you’re not sleeping. Eye masks and “white” noise can also help distract the mind.

“Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow,” adds Bergin. “Not having the right support can make it harder to fall asleep and leave you feeling tired and achy in the morning.

8. Invest in a Quality Mattress.

According to sleep and nutrition consultant Ingrid Y. Prueher, the quality of your mattress is something that should not be overlooked, especially if you have trouble sleeping. "It is said that we spend one third of our life sleeping, so investing in efficient sleep products that will protect the quality of our sleep is absolutely worth it," she says. 

Prueher recommends shopping for a mattress that matches the firmness your body needs. “You want a mattress that will help align your body to protect your most precious asset, your vertebrae," explains Prueher. 

To find the ideal mattress that will deliver improved sleep quality, visit a Sit 'n Sleep near you.  Sit ‘n Sleep carries the nation's top-reviewed mattress selection, and the technology to match your mattress to your body.