How to Sleep Better and Take Control of Your Health

Every human being needs sleep. There’s no questioning that. However, there are a lot of questions when it comes to how to sleep better.

How can we improve our health by sleeping well when we are struggling daily by everything else we’re trying to accomplish?

Sleep is an essential but often neglected part of your daily routine.

We know we need to get good rest, on a regular basis, to be healthy. However, here you are, searching for ways to improve your sleeping habits.

Or, perhaps you are wondering how to overcome your particular sleeping disorder to reap the benefits of good slumber you are missing out on.

woman sitting against a brick wall in a hoodie wishing she got better sleep
Source: Pexel

We all have questions, from what mattress or mattress topper to try, to how to overcome sleep apnea to live a full life.

However, if you know how to sleep well, then you are one step closer to a perfect night of rest.

Even your lifestyle can be sabotaging your ability to rest. We’ll get to that a bit later.

How to Sleep Enough

Part of sleeping enough is knowing how much you need.

The amount of sleep you need depends mostly on your age, but you should also listen to your body. If you don’t know what sleeping enough is for your body, then determining that should be your first priority.

But, what does that even mean?

There’s no single amount of sleep you need at any one age, but there are windows of time that you should rest in.

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Each age group has a recommended minimum and recommended maximum amount of sleep, though you might not fall in those ranges.

There are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine how much you need.

The first thing to consider is whether you’re happy and productive on fewer hours of rest. If not, then you probably need more.

Did you know?

Caffeine is considered the most popular drug in the world, but consuming it too close to bed can make it more difficult to fall or stay asleep.

Consider any health problems you have, apparently sleep-related or not. Chances are, not getting enough rest will make other conditions worse.

Not to mention complicating our daily life and costing your lunch money on Starbucks.

It’s not just the yawning!

Fatigue is a symptom of some health conditions, and sleep issues also affect your rest. Needing caffeine to give you energy might be a sign that you need to sleep more, too.

Drowsy driving is another sign that you don’t get enough. Fatigue and drowsy driving are both dangerous to your health while behind the wheel.

How does all this tell me how to sleep better?

It doesn’t, quite yet. But it helps to understand that you should use the ranges of recommended sleep as a guide. Some people need more or less than average, and that’s okay.

Whether you need a lot of sleep or a little, you should make it a priority. Sleep deprivation can affect your entire day, so consult your doctor if you can’t figure out how to find slumber.

Children

  • Newborns need 14 to 17 hours of sleep, though anywhere from 11 to 19 hours may be appropriate. Infants should get 12 to 15 hours each day, but 10 to 18 hours is also considered normal.
  • Toddlers need an average of 11 to 14 hours per night, but 9 to 16 hours is also okay.
  • Older adults, 65 plus, need slightly less sleep at 7 to 8 hours. Some older adults might need up to 9 hours, though others might only need 5 or 6 hours.
  • Preschool children should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night, though they might be able to get as little as 8 hours or as much as 14 hours.
  • School-aged children should sleep nine to eleven hours. Some children might only need seven hours, but other children might benefit from twelve hours.

Adolescents

  • Teens aged 14 to 17 years old are often considered adolescents, and they need more sleep than adults.
  • The average teen needs 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. Some teens can get away with as little as 7 hours, but other teens might need up to 11 hours of sleep.

Adults

  • Young adults should shoot for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, though 6 to 11 hours may be appropriate for some.
  • Adults aged 26 to 64 years old should also get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. These adults might even get 6 to 10 hours each night.
  • Older adults, 65 plus, need slightly less sleep at 7 to 8 hours. Some older adults might need up to 9 hours, though others might only need 5 or 6 hours.

How to Sleep Comfortably

Your bedroom or sleeping environment can make a big difference in the amount and quality of rest you get. If you don’t create the best environment, you could be negatively affecting your slumber.

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What is the perfect environment ?

There are a few conditions that will make your bedroom the best place to get your zzz’s.

Super Sleeping Facts

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says some individuals need less sleep and others need more. Listen to your body to determine the right amount of slumber for you. 

Temperature

Cooler temperatures make it easier for you to get a good night’s sleep. Ideal temperatures for slumber range from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

The most comfortable temperature for you might take some experimenting, so don’t be put off if one temperature doesn’t work for you.

Lighting

One of the best ways to prepare your body for sleep is to dim the lights about an hour before you head to bed. A big part getting quality rest is knowing how to prepare.

While it’s possible to sleep with lights, lowering the lights before bed sends signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down.

Bright lights can signal your brain to become more awake, so too much lighting can prompt the opposite of what you want.

Speaking of lights:

Electronics

Similar to how too much lighting can make it hard to sleep, the screens on your electronics can also keep you awake.

Reducing your screen time before bed can make the end of your day more relaxing, and it can teach your body how to go to sleep naturally.

Colors

What do colors have to do with how to sleep better?:

To get the best quality of sleep, you need to be relaxed. Our retinas have special receptors called ganglion cells. Ganglion cells help control your 24-hour rhythm, and that can affect your rest.

These cells are most sensitive to blue and other cool tones like grays, silvers, and neutrals. While blue is the best color for slumber, any relaxing shade can help.

A relaxing color can help you sleep, but more factors can affect your rest quality:

Scents and aromatherapy

Different scents like lavender can make it easier for you to sleep. Lavender is a very relaxing scent, and it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Certain smells can also improve your mood thus relaxing your body for a night of rest.

But, don’t neglect your other senses!

Noise and white noise machines

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With our busy world, you might think it’s important to know how to sleep with a lot of noise around you.

You can’t control the noises from your neighbors or the neighborhood in general, but you can control the noise in your home.

White noise machines or even a fan can help reduce the noise you hear from outside.

But, not all noise is white noise:

Sleep with the TV on for white noise? You may be damaging your own slumber patterns.

Turn the TV off. The changing volumes and tones can interrupt your rest pattern. White noise machines provide a constant background sound that can drown out other noises, so they’re great for not waking you up.

Did you know?

According to a poll from the National Sleep Foundation,
more than a third of Americans drive drowsy. Learn how to sleep in your bed, not in your car.

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Mattresses

Your mattress can make or break your slumber.

The last thing you want is to have deal with a bad mattress. A mattress is supposed to support your entire body, but it also needs to be comfortable.

There are different types of mattresses, most available online, so you can find one that works for you. Whichever mattress you decide on, don’t be afraid to splurge.

You will spend around a third of your life sleeping, so you should have a good mattress.

Foam mattresses

A foam mattress is a great choice because it conforms to your body. That can make it hard to change positions, but once you find the perfect sleeping position, it will cradle you well.

Polyurethane is the most common material for foam mattresses, but latex is another popular choice. Some mattresses even combine the two materials.

Innerspring mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are traditional mattresses that contain steel coils in different compositions.

Sometimes combined with foam tops, innerspring mattresses make it easier to switch positions. More foam layers make changing positions more difficult, and fewer foam layers make the mattress more bouncy.

Adjustable air mattresses

If you want to customize the exact firmness of your mattress, an adjustable air mattress might be for you. These mattresses have an electric pump, and some have a foam topper.

Many of these mattresses also allow you to adjust the firmness on each side, so you and your partner can choose your own firmness preference.

Make sure you only adjust the bed during the day, because the pump can be loud.

Waterbed mattresses

Waterbeds used to require you to fill the mattress in its entirety, but now you simply fill the tubes or “bladders” of the mattress.

Some waterbeds can now support themselves, so you don’t need a separate frame.

A waterbed is great because the warm water can relieve pain, and it can keep you warm during colder months.

A blonde woman in red pajamas sleeps on a bed, which is a big part of learning how to sleep well.
Image by CC0, via Public Domain Pictures

Mattress brands and prices

There are many different brands of mattresses, and mattresses have different price points. Some common mattress brands include Tempur-Pedic, Serta, and Sleep Number.

Mattresses cost as little as $100, and some mattresses cost over $19,000. Consumer Reports recommends each of the following mattress brands.

Source: Pexel

Did you know?

If your mattress is old, it can lead to lower back pain? A new mattress can change your understanding of how to sleep.

Casper: great for support

Casper offers different types of mattresses including spring, latex, and memory foam.

The company blends comfort foam, memory foam, transition foam, and support foam to give you all of the best qualities of a mattress.

Casper mattresses are great for anyone who needs a supportive mattress.

Denver Mattress: for the indecisive mattress shopper

The Denver Mattress company seems to be more of a mattress dealer than a mattress manufacturer. They sell mattresses from brands such as SilverCreek and TEMPUR-Cloud.

Therefore, Denver Mattress is a great place to shop if you’re unsure of what mattress you need. On their website, you can shop by brand or by mattress type, and you can sort by price, popularity, and rating.

Novaform: easy on your wallet

Novaform sells a variety of mattresses of different sizes. They have six main mattress styles, and they offer twin through California king mattresses.

You can choose from firm mattresses and soft mattresses, and many of the mattresses qualify for 3-day delivery.

If you need a budget-friendly mattress, this is the one for you.

The Original Mattress Factory: orthopedic support

The Original Mattress Factory offers a variety of mattresses from classic to orthopedic sets. Some of the mattresses are firm, and others are soft.

You can buy a mattress set, or you can buy a mattress and box spring separately. The Orthopedic line of mattresses is durable and supportive so that you can get a good night’s rest.

Sealy: supports your entire body

Sealy is a very popular mattress company, and they offer a proprietary technology that supports your body where you need the support.

Sealy’s Posturepedic technology supports the middle of your body, which is where over half of your weight rests while you sleep.

If you’re unsure of the best type of mattress for you, they have a page of resources so you can educate yourself.

Read our Cocoon Mattress by Sealy Review

Serta: solves common sleep problems

The Original Mattress Factory offers a variety of mattresses from classic to orthopedic sets. Some of the mattresses are firm, and others are soft.

You can buy a mattress set, or you can buy a mattress and box spring separately. The Orthopedic line of mattresses is durable and supportive so that you can get a good night’s rest.

Simmons: cooling and comfortable

Simmons offers a range of mattresses for the whole family. Their BeautySleep mattress is a quality mattress that is soft yet durable. An edge system protects the soft foam, and the coils adjust to your body.

This mattress also has SurfaceCool technology which keeps heat from staying at the surface of the mattress. If you hate being hot in bed, this is the mattress for you.

Sleep Number: for couples who can’t agree

If you and your partner prefer different amounts of firmness, you might want to consider a Sleep Number mattress.

You can adjust the comfort and firmness on each side so that you both get the most comfortable setting for you, and they automatically adjust to you so that you’re always comfortable.

The Sleep Number mattress is perfect for couples who can’t agree on the same level of firmness.

TEMPUR-Pedic: a mattress luxury

If there ever were a luxury mattress company, TEMPUR-Pedic would be that company.

TEMPUR-Pedic has mattresses in all sizes from twin to California king, and they feature a size guide online to help you find the right size.

If you and your partner can’t agree on a firmness, you can buy a split king or split California king so you can both choose the right firmness for you.

Tuft & Needle: mattress shopping made simple

Tuft & Needle is relatively new to the mattress market. The company offers two types of mattresses including an original mattress and a mint mattress.

The original mattress an adaptive foam to relieve pressure and keep you cool, and the mattress also supports you through the entire night.

The mint mattress features a high-quality gel, great edge support, and a comfortable and cozy top layer.

If you’re on a strict budget, or you’re overwhelmed with mattress shopping, Tuft & Needle makes the process simple and affordable.

Read our Tuft n’ Needle Review

Did you know?

The National Sleep Foundation reports that people at high altitudes experience higher rates of sleep disturbance.
It is probably due to lower levels of oxygen at higher elevations.

How to Sleep with Health Problems

Sleep deprivation can be crippling:

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Many of us face various health problems. And, if your health condition already makes sleeping difficult, those effects can pile up.

Whether you have a sleep-related condition or not, many health problems can affect how to sleep and how to sleep well.

How to sleep with insomnia

If you have insomnia, you know how dreadful the evening can be. Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia truly disrupts your life. It’s also not something you are making up.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to wind down before bed.

The trick?:

Before you go to bed, spend about half an hour relaxing. 

Yes, relaxing.

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You can read a book or take a hot bath. Meditation and breathing exercises are also great for relaxation, and they can calm you and your body.

It’s not how you relax, so much as that you do and that you do so without artificial light from your favorite screen, be it 6 inches or 50.

But that’s not all:

While purposefully relaxing, you should also dim the lights in your home. Higher levels of light can halt the signals in your brain that tell you it’s time to sleep. That’s why you should also avoid electronics before you hit the hay.

If you have trouble getting back to sleep, save drinks with caffeine for the morning, because the caffeine can wake you up. A quiet and dark sleeping environment can also help you get back to sleep more easily.

If all else fails:

If you can’t fall asleep, you may want to try getting up. While it sounds counter-intuitive, it really can work.

Instead of lying in the dark, screaming at yourself internally to go to sleep, leave your bed; go read a book under a dimmed lamp, or make a cup of chamomile tea. (Sleepy Time tea is my favorite, for this.)

Leave the screens dark, then 20 to 30 minutes later, try laying down again.

Reading by Pexel

How to sleep with sleep apnea

Do you or a loved one snore?:

That sound could be the result of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing intermittently during sleep. Some complications of sleep apnea include day time exhaustion, poor immune function, and increased risk of heart failure.

Traditional treatment options can be expensive or uncomfortable, but there are a few things you can do to improve your sleep.

More than half of patients with obstructive sleep apnea have symptoms because they sleep on their backs. If you switch to sleeping on your side, you can ease your symptoms and get a better night’s rest.

Practicing yoga is another way to open your airways and strengthen your respiratory system. If you live in a dry climate, consider using a humidifier.

A humidifier can open your airways and decrease congestion thus leading to better sleep.

How to sleep when you have anxiety

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If you have anxiety, it can be hard to get a good night of sleep. Just like insomnia patients, anxiety patients can benefit from avoiding caffeine and maintaining a relaxing environment for sleep.

Consider talking to your doctor about your medications, and see if you can get off or move the dosing times of any stimulants you’re currently taking.

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg:

Craft a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading or taking a bath. If you go to bed and find you can’t fall asleep, get up and do something until you feel tired.

Your body is receptive to routine, so if you’re constantly awake in your bed, it will be harder to fall asleep.

How to sleep through the night

Whether you have an underlying condition or not, it can be hard to sleep through the night. You might wake up for a variety of reasons from noise disturbances to an urge to use the restroom.

What you must do:

Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening, and limit the consumption of any liquid in the evening. Caffeine can wake you up, and fluids of any sort can make you run for the toilet.

Regular exercise earlier in the day can help you stay asleep as well. A relaxing evening activity can also help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Source: Public Domain Pictures

How to stop grinding your teeth

Often triggered by stress, grinding your teeth occasionally is normal.

If you regularly grind your teeth, you can damage them and cause other oral problems. You can prevent this damage by taking a few precautions.

A night guard is a popular choice to protect your teeth. You can get a plastic or acrylic night guard fitted to your teeth to protect them, though it won’t keep you from grinding.

What can?:

A warm bath and other stress-relieving activities can keep you from grinding your teeth. Warm water can help relax your jaw muscles.

If you’re unable to take a bath, you can use a warm washcloth or heat compress for a soothing jaw massage.

Finally, maintaining awareness can also help. Make sure you keep your teeth separated, even when your lips are closed.

How to avoid (or treat) sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis occurs either right before falling asleep or right after waking up.

If you have ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know it can be a terrible feeling.

The typical signs of sleep paralysis include the inability to move or speak. An episode of sleep paralysis lasts a few seconds or minutes, and you may find it hard to take deep breaths.

For most people, it’s a rare occurrence, but if you experience it regularly, don’t be afraid to consult your doctor.

To lower your risk of an episode of sleep paralysis, make sure you get enough sleep. You can do that by going to sleep at the same time each night and making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool.

Did you know?

The NSF found that snoring is the most common cause of disordered sleep for Americans.

Mattress Pads and Toppers

If you’re not satisfied with your mattress but can’t afford a new one, you might want to consider a mattress pad or topper.

Mattress pads and toppers are more affordable than a new mattress, and it’s easy to figure out how to sleep with a mattress pad or topper.

What you should know:

Mattress Pads Vs. Toppers

So what’s the difference between a mattress pad and a mattress topper?

A mattress pad tends to be cheaper than a topper due to thinner material. Mattress pads do offer unique features such as heating and cooling properties that you won’t get from a mattress topper.

A mattress topper is usually thicker and more expensive than a mattress pad, and they’re more comfortable.

Unfortunately, many people and companies use these words interchangeably, so it can be hard to determine which product is right for you.

LEISURE TOWN Mattress Pad Cover: hypoallergenic and antimicrobial

LEISURE TOWN sells a cooling mattress pad cover. The mattress pad is breathable, soft, and the cotton keeps you cool throughout the night.

This mattress pad features snow down alternative fill which is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. It’s easy to clean and somewhat water resistant.

The mattress pad fits mattresses up to 21 inches deep.

You can choose from eight different sizes including Full XL and Olympic Queen. If you need a mattress pad in those sizes, this is the one or you.

Denver RV Short Mattress Pad: like a topper

If you want a thicker mattress pad, this is the one for you. The Denver RV Short Mattress Pad is two inches deep, and it fits over mattresses up to 16 inches deep.

The mattress pad is 100 percent cotton, and it has heavy duty elastic to keep the mattress pad secure.

Recommended Read: Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Topper: Everything You Need To Know To Choose!

Did you know?

Self-imposed sleep deprivation is one of the most common causes of sleepiness in the United States, according to the NSF.

Pillows

No advice on how to sleep will do you any good without a proper pillow. A good pillow can make a difference in the quality of your sleep.

Good pillows also support your head and neck, so the right pillow for you will keep you pain-free.

Recommended Read: Best Pillow for Neck Pain: Get a Good Night Sleep!

So many choices!

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There are many kinds of pillows, and all of the options can be overwhelming. There are down pillows, memory foam pillows, latex pillows, and so much more.

Unfortunately, you can’t try out a pillow very thoroughly in the store. You can squish different pillows to sense the firmness, but you don’t always know if it will work for you.

It can take up to a week of sleeping on a pillow to determine if it’s the right one. A comfortable pillow for you will take the guesswork out of how to sleep.

Side sleepers

Side sleeping is the most common sleep position, and the best pillows for side sleepers are firm or extra firm.

These pillows can help support your head and neck, and you should look for a pillow that can keep your head about four inches off of the mattress.

Recommended Read: Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Stomach sleepers

Stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow that’s breathable.

You want a pillow that you can scrunch and adjust, and the best materials are down, down alternative, polyester, or thin foam.

Avoid high loft and firm pillows, because they can leave your neck feeling sore.

Back sleepers

If you sleep on your back, you need a pillow that can support the curve in your neck. Medium firm pillows with a medium loft are best for back sleepers. Loft refers to the height of your pillow.

If you snore or have sleep apnea and you’re a back sleeper, try using two or three pillows. The added height will raise your head above your body and can keep your airway open.

That reduces the risk of snoring and sleep apnea.

Recommended Read: Best Pillows For Back Sleepers

Combination sleepers

If you don’t sleep in a single position, you need a pillow that can suit your different sleeping positions.

A good option is a pillow that’s lower in the middle for back sleeping and higher on the sides for side sleeping. Buckwheat and combination pillows are great for combination sleepers.

pillows help with sleep

Fun Sleep Fact

Lack of sleep can result in an increased appetite due to lower levels of leptin (a hormone that controls hunger).

Lifestyle and Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans are the only mammals that are willing put off sleep. Just look at your dog or cat; they know how it’s done.

We humans flaunt our busy schedules like it’s the newest fashion trend. These busy lifestyles can make it harder to get the right amount of sleep.

Too much screen time, too little sleep

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The fear of missing out, or FOMO, keeps us connected to our devices right up until bedtime. That constant connection and screen time can have consequences.

The majority of Americans use their electronic devices within the hour before going to sleep, and bright screens can affect your body’s overall sleepiness.

Bright screens can also inhibit the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Too much screen time can make it much more difficult to fall asleep, and sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of various health problems.

Sleep apnea success

While not always related to lifestyle, sleep apnea is one sleep condition that may improve with a simple change. One woman detailed her experience with sleep apnea as well as her amazing recovery.

While you don’t have to use a sleep apnea machine, if your doctor doesn’t feel you need one, you should know it’s possible to manage this potentially life-threatening sleep disorder.

Many sleep apnea machines are now silent, and the mask options less uncomfortable. If you are struggling, please, speak to your doctor.

Reducing screen time, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight are all ways to get better sleep.

Did you know?

Insomnia is more common in older people,
though it’s often related to an underlying condition.

Sleep Your Way to Health

woman waking after a great night's sleep

We often talk about good diet and exercise as the keys to good health but knowing how sleep is just as important.

The right environment from a comfortable mattress to a quiet room can make or break your night.

Too much exposure to bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep, and certain sleep disorders can affect the quality of your sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a serious issue, so make sure you have the tools you need to get the best sleep of your life.

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