I have been on a sleep crusade this year and learned a lot. Sleep is the most important thing we can do to unlock our potential. I will rarely sacrifice sleep, no matter how harried life gets. Some people fall asleep quickly, sleep through the night, and wake rested. Most of us, however, have frustrating qualms with one or more parts of sleep. I’m here to offer a few methods and products to help you sleep better.
STEP 1: CREATE A SLEEP HABITS CHECKLIST
I want to preface this exploration of sleep by noting that everyone has different sleeping habits. New parents or those in high-stress chapters of life may go through spells of poor sleep. But your sleep should regulate back to healthy, uninterrupted six to eight hours of sleep a night. If you think you may have a diagnosable sleep disorder, consult a certified sleep physician for help.
I have adapted the following checklist from multiple sleep gurus, including Matthew Walker, Andrew Huberman, and the team at Sleep Foundation. Even checking off half of these items can make a difference.
- View morning sunlight without sunglasses within 30 minutes after waking (while the sun is still rising in the sky) and about 14 to 16 hours before you want to sleep. This tells our body it’s time to wake up and helps it know when it’s time to sleep. This has a lot to do with cortisol regulation and circadian rhythm.
- Try not to drink caffeine after about 2 p.m.
- Try not to eat food too close to bedtime.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. (Yes, even on weekends!)
- Time in bed does not equal time asleep. Give yourself more hours in bed for more actual hours asleep. We are awake throughout the night without realizing it.
- Avoid bright light of any color and dim the lights as evening approaches.
- Get the room nice and cold before bed.
STEP 2: LEARN ABOUT SLEEP
“Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker
I cannot overstate how much this book changed my life. I read it every year and reference it constantly. Matthew Walker offers a comprehensive overview of sleep: its mysteries, known benefits, and the detriments of insufficient sleep. It also has a really neat section on dreams. Once you’ve stacked up your beach read pile, shop this one on Bookshop or Amazon.
Here’s the author’s 10-million-view TED talk to get you familiar.
STEP 3: TRACK YOUR SLEEP
If you love data and knowing just how much of each kind of sleep you are getting per night (awake, light sleep, REM sleep, and deep sleep), fitness wearables give you valuable, actionable information about what is or is not working for you when it comes to better sleep. These are three of the best for sleep.
Whoop Band 4.0
The highly sophisticated yet easy-to-understand Whoop app recommends how much sleep you need for optimal recovery, tells you the best times to go to bed and wake up, and tracks your four sleep stages, disturbances, respiratory rate, oxygen level, HRV, and more. Whoop is subscription-based and is $239 a year or $30 a month at Whoop.
Oura Ring Gen 3
Oura ring also tracks your sleep cycles and bodily metrics throughout the night and gives you scores the next day on how to perform best. It’s smaller than a wristband, but finding the perfect fit for your finger can be challenging. It’s $299 plus a $5.99 per month membership fee. Shop your ring at Oura.
Fitbit Inspire 3
A sleek sleep tracker that won’t break the bank, the Fitbit Inspire 3 gives you a sleep score each morning, tracks your sleep stages, and lets you track goals and habits on the app. It’s $99.93 at Amazon.
STEP 4: MAKE YOUR SLEEP HABITAT DARK, COOL, & COMFY
Optimizing sleep with the latest gadgets, linens, and supplements can get expensive. When I decided to change up some things for my sleep experiment, I started with the habits — the things I knew were in my control. For new purchases, I didn’t bite off too much at one time, and I returned what wasn’t working. Some of the pricier items offer a free or no-risk trial period. Here are some of the buzzier sleep items of the moment and some budget-friendly alternatives.
Manta Sleep Weighted Mask
This may be the world’s most advanced (and comfiest) sleep mask. Evenly weighted and infinitely adjustable, it is also 100% blackout, soft, breathable, and puts zero pressure on eyelids and lashes. It’s $45 at Manta. I also love this one from Amazon, which is a little cheaper ($21.99).
Blackout blinds and shades can help create a calm, peaceful, dark oasis. The cellular blackout shades by Graber also reduce up to 70% of outside noise, protect the room from drafts or heat, and add a layer of privacy to your home. They can be motorized, too, for a peaceful wake-up.
If you’re a side sleeper like me, you may toss throughout the night and wake up feeling groggy and tight in your neck and upper back like I do. The pillow cube has made my sleep drastically better. It’s boxy to fit the shape of your neck crook and the perfect mixture of firm and soft. Shop this for $89.99 on Amazon.
The right sheets
Breathable sheets that won’t trap in the heat are a must when it comes to quality sleep. Remember: colder is better. The Sateen Luxe Core sheets from Brooklinen are heralded as some of the most sleep-conducive out there. A queen set is $170.10 at Brooklinen. We also love this budget-friendly set from California Design Den ($39.99) on Amazon.
People are obsessed with Perfectly Snug’s Smart Topper, and here’s why. It’s powered by a cooling system (with built-in sensors) that detects and adjusts to your body temperature. For couples, each person controls the temperature of their side of the bed. And you can climb into a luxuriously preheated bed, then change the bed’s temperature throughout the night. The queen size is $1,599 on Amazon. This is an awesome alternative to the cult-favorite — but super pricey — Eight Sleep products.
Hatch Alarm Clock
I love this because it’s an all-in-one sleep device. Pick a channel for gentle music, dreamscapes, guided rest exercises, and sleep stories. While you sleep, block out noise and disruptions with pink noise, light rain, or other background sounds. In the morning, Hatch wakes you with a gradual sunrise light and peaceful sounds like birds, flutes, or chimes. Shop this for $129.99 at Hatch or Amazon.
STEP 5: MORE MAGNESIUM BEFORE BED
Many sleepers extoll the power of magnesium to help you stay asleep, and studies have found that higher magnesium intake is associated with longer sleep. If supplements are not for you, here are three fabulous alternatives to absorb magnesium before bed.
Magnesium Bath Flakes
Unlock the therapeutic effects of magnesium by soaking in a hot bath before bed to relieve muscle tension, calm mental noise, and soften your skin. Or soak tired feet in a bowl of this compound in hot water. This twelve-pound bag of Dead Sea magnesium bath flakes is $35.97 at Amazon.
Magnesium Body Butter
This luscious body butter has shea butter, aloe vera, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and added magnesium to get you nice and sleepy. The notes of English lavender, sweet basil, and jasmine are dreamy, too. Shop this for $41 at Nordstrom.
As a light sleeper, I adore these sleep patches. When I feel I may have a restless night or go to sleep too late or after one too many drinks, I stick this on my wrist or arm and sleep like a baby. A pack of 60 is $35.99 at Amazon.
Time for more ZZZs, y’all!
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