Are you getting enough sleep? Wait. Scratch that. Are you getting the kind of sleep you really need to wake up ready to kick some hind end every morning? We’re going to go out on a limb and guess the answer is a big fat no. That’s why you’re reading this, right? Your eyelids are probably drooping, and you’ve most likely been guzzling caffeine since you woke up. In one survey by the American Sleep Association, as much as 37.9 percent of respondents confessed they had unintentionally fallen asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month! Some 30 percent of us struggle with insomnia at least occasionally, and 10 percent of Americans say it’s a chronic condition. We’re a nation of zombies, walking around with a giant cup of coffee in our hands to fight off the urge to take a midday nap. Raising your hand with a guilty expression? Time for a sleep routine overhaul! Quick! Before your boss catches you catnapping at your desk, here are some ideas to improve your sleep hygiene and help you catch some serious ZZZZs.
Top off your comfort.
Up to 92 percent of Americans consider a comfortable mattress a must for getting a good night’s sleep. It’s no surprise, then, that an uncomfy sleeping space is going to keep you up at night and leave you drowsy by the time the alarm starts sounding in the morning. If you’re tossing and turning at night on a mattress that’s lumpy or just doesn’t feel like it’s made for your body, you don’t have to head out and buy a whole new one. A memory foam mattress topper can help better distribute a person’s weight, conforming to their body to take pressure off the pressure points.
Treat your tootsies.
No one is falling asleep with feet that feel like they’ve been hanging out in the freezer section of your local Trader Joe’s, and for good reason. Scientists have found that warming your feet when you’re ready for bed triggers your brain to think it’s time to sleep. This is because of something called vasodilation, basically dilation of the blood vessels. Back in the old days, folks made this happen by slipping a hot water bottle under the covers at the foot of the bed. But you can do it even more easily. Stock up on these cozy animal socks to keep your toes warm so they don’t keep you awake. P.S. Forget what they say about socks in bed harshing the mood. You can always take them off if things get interesting!
Diffuse your mood.
Essential oils smell amazing, and a whole lot of people swear by them as a fast path to sleep. There’s even some solid science to back up the relaxation benefits. If you’re thinking about kicking off an oil routine to help you sleep, a diffuser can help get you there. A diffuser mixes essential oils with water and uses steam to disperse them in the air, so you can lie in bed and breathe them in. With this nature-inspired wood grain diffuser, you can keep your favorite oil scents pumping out into the air while you sleep or turn it off when you feel like you’re ready to drift off. Not sure you want it going all night long? Thanks to the remote, you don’t even have to get out of bed to hit the off switch!
Layer the lavender.
Lavender is a favorite with essential oil fans because of its soothing properties (and it is even considered to be a mild sedative), but lavender isn’t limited to oil form. Dried versions of the flower can be brewed in a pre-bedtime tea, sprinkled in a warm bath to help you chill out, or even tucked in small sachets to be stored with your extra set of sheets for a boost of lavender scent when you’re ready to make the bed.
Spray your way to sleep.
There is absolutely nothing like the thought of sinking your head into a divine-smelling pillow to make you want to go to bed. You could wash your pillow and shams every single day to keep a laundry-fresh scent omnipresent in your bedroom. Or you could take the easier route and stock up on a divinely scented pillow spray. This one boasts lavender and other essential oils for deep calming, and it’s free of all those questionable ingredients you might worry about, including parabens, phthalates, GMOs, sulfates, synthetic dyes and fragrances, propylene glycol, mineral oil, and petrolatum. So you can stop worrying and start sleeping!
Cool off your head.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends your bedroom be no warmer than 67 degrees if you want to get a good night’s sleep, but even turning down the thermostat doesn’t help keep our bed linens cool. Flannel and cotton especially tend to warm up when they come in contact with body heat. A silk pillowcase can help keep your head cool, and they come with an added benefit: Many hairdressers recommend silk pillowcases to keep hair from tangling while you sleep!
Put some weight on (top of you).
Don’t worry, your body is perfect just the way it is. The only weight in this blanket is sewn right into the fabric. Why? Weighted blankets are believed to help us calm down and relax thanks to deep pressure touch stimulation—essentially, we’re soothed by the feeling of something lying on us. A blanket is not a cure for a mental health condition, nor should it take place of a visit to the doctor if you feel that depression or anxiety is keeping you awake. But pressure has long been studied as a means to reduce anxiety, even for people who don’t have a diagnosed condition. At the very least, it could just help you feel a little bit warmer at bedtime!
There are a whole lot of studies out there that warn us against bright lights when we’re trying to sleep. But if you’re someone who absolutely needs to read in bed in order to calm down, you need at least some light in your bedroom to see the pages. This beside lamp lets you change just about everything about the light, from the angle it hits you to the color and intensity of the beam, so you can go from having a bright light in the afternoon when you need that boost while you put away your laundry to something dim and soothing when it’s time to settle in with a good novel.
Block it out.
The light on your bedside table isn’t the only one that could be keeping you awake. Ambient light—from streetlights to sunlight—can also play a big role in keeping us awake too late or waking us up too early. A set of pretty, printed blackout curtains can help curtail the call of the sun in the early morning and banish the bright lights from your across-the-alley neighbor’s place. This thermal set also adds a layer of insulation between the window and the bedroom, helping keep the room warmer or cooler, depending on the season.
Throw on a mask.
Even when you’re away from home, you need to avoid light leaks at bedtime. You may not be able to take your curtains with you on vacation, but you can slip a sleep mask into your carry-on bag. Adjustable straps help you fit this sleep mask to your head so it won’t slip as you sleep and cost you some of your beauty rest, while the soft cotton padding keeps the mask from weighing too heavily on your face.
Be selective about your sounds.
Whether it’s the neighborhood cats putting up a fight or the neighbors crashing and banging when they come home late at night, all that extra noise is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. White noise machine to the rescue! Designed to create soothing sounds such as ocean waves or falling rain (you choose what you want to hear each night) to lull you off to dreamland, the machine will also help block out all those ambient noises. A 15-, 30-, and 60-minute auto-off timer helps save your energy bill and the planet too.
Activate your alarm long distance.
In case you needed another reason to disconnect from your smartphone once in a while, it turns out they’re harming our sleeping habits. The biggest culprit is the blue light, that slightly eerie beam emitted from the screen that casts a blue aura over our faces when we read our phones with the lights off. Blue light can actually prevent us from falling asleep, as it affects the circadian rhythms of our brains, tricking us into thinking we’re still supposed to be awake. But wait, you can’t kick your smartphone out of the bedroom…it’s your morning alarm, right? Not if you opt for a Bluetooth speaker that can be set up by your bed! Dock your phone in the living room, sync it with the speaker in your bedroom, and you’re all set.
Kick out the clutter…
You may think you’re going off to bed without even noticing that pile of clothes on your dresser, the laundry basket overflowing with folded laundry, or your growing collection of half-used lotions, but it turns out all that clutter could be keeping you awake. Scientists have even found a link between messy bedrooms and a poor night’s rest. Under-bed storage bins can be slipped beneath the bed to hide those sweaters until winter returns. These organizers can also be stacked in a corner, where they’ll remain neat and out of the way.
…and stash your other stuff.
Of course, you still have things you absolutely need to keep on hand. These honeycomb drawer organizers make everything easier to store and easier to find. Goodbye, bras hanging off the curtain rods!
Set the mood.
When movie makers want to indicate the star’s going to bliss out in some serious relaxation in their bed or bathroom, they always light a few (dozen) candles. There’s just something about a darkened room and flickering candlelight that screams “soothing.” Make this part of your nightly routine with a set of flameless candles that can be turned on and left “burning” while you drift off to dreamland. Because there’s no actual fire, you eliminate the safety hazard that comes with the real thing, and you can also avoid the risk of any carcinogens that may come from burning a live candle. The small light they emit also doubles as a nightlight if you wake up for a quick bathroom run at some point during the night.
Cut the noise.
Snoring partners. Purring pets. The bedroom can be a surprisingly loud place once you’re lying down and trying to drift away. Sometimes you just need something to cut the noise so you can get to sleep. These ear plugs are made from memory foam, so they mold to your ear canals, and reviewers tend to call them out for the quality of the foam. Once they start to get too loose and let the sound in, just pop in a new pair!
Wrap yourself up.
Don’t be put off by the name: You don’t need to be pregnant to take advantage of the bliss that is wrapping a pregnancy pillow around your body. If you struggle to find just the right sleeping position, a body pillow can help provide extra support as you roll around in bed. Plus, everybody who remembers snuggling a stuffed animal in bed when they were small knows there’s comfort to be found in wrapping your arms around something cuddly at bedtime. This C-shaped pillow wraps around the body, offering something to cuddle any way you turn!
Bring the outdoors in.
The less stress we have, typically the easier it is to sleep, and there’s a lot to be said for getting some natural stress relief by getting outside in nature. But you don’t have to give up that feeling of spending time in nature when you head to bed at night. Decorate your room with some greenery to bring the outdoors in. Bonus of these little succulents? Although they look pretty darn real, they’re fake, so they’re nearly maintenance free!
Sleep like a panda.
The shape and height of your pillow matter more than you might think. Not only can a poor pillow force you to wake up with neck pain, it can also keep you awake or limit your restful sleep. Bamboo pillows—yes, bamboo like the pandas eat—are designed to contour to your head and neck, providing you the support you need without putting a strain on your upper half. For some people, a bamboo pillow can help reduce muscle strain and alleviate those aching pressure points.
Meditate on this.
Ahhhhhh. Is there anything more relaxing than some mindfulness-focused meditation in bed? A meditation app such as Headspace or Calm is a science-backed path to better sleep, lowering your heart rate and helping direct your breathing, so your body can ready itself to go into relaxed mode. But if you’ve ever rolled over only to lose one of your earbuds and been shocked back into reality, you’ve discovered the number one drawback to using a set of standard earbuds. A set of over-ear headphones can be difficult to sleep with because of the bulk, which makes it impossible to move around, especially if you’re prone to side-sleeping. Try sleep headphones instead. Designed to wrap around the head like an athletic band, they stay right where they should be, so you can keep your mind on being more mindful.