How to get better sleep in 2020

Adam Kuylenstierna / EyeEm

Sleep. We all do it, but most of us aren’t great at it. The CDC estimates that more than 30% of adults in the US don’t get enough sleep, and that makes us tired, cranky and caffeine addicted. The reasons range from the wrong pillow and mattress to fighting your natural circadian rhythm.

But we can’t forget the role that tech plays in our sleep too. Sadly, there’s a lot of research that it could be wrecking our sleep, keeping us up too long and not getting enough quality sleep night after night.

And while tech can help you better understand your sleep patterns and quality, it is also responsible for screwing up our sleep patterns. If you’re staying up too late binge-watching Netflix, or scrolling through Instagram in bed until the wee hours (guilty), it’s not too late to save your sleep. There are a lot of sleep myths out there, so let’s dive into what really works.

Read more: Find the best mattress in 2020: 11 top brands compared

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Do these 8 things to sleep better tonight


Are you getting enough sleep?

You’ve heard that getting 8 hours of sleep every night is important, but how do you know if you’re really getting enough sleep? One way to know is by using a sleep tracker to monitor your sleep quality, which is arguably more important than quantity. 

Everyone has a different number of hours of sleep that they need to keep in order to feel good, so make it a priority to figure that out and stick to it as often as possible. Sleep deprivation isn’t something you want to brush off or taut as a badge of honor — it can lead to serious chronic health issues.

If you succeed at getting into bed earlier to clock more hours of sleep, but still struggle to wake up early, then what can you do? While you can’t override your biology if you’re not truly a morning person, there are simple tactics you can try to make it easier to get up early and take on the day. A few things you can try: Avoid napping in the afternoon, try not to drink caffeine after 3 p.m. and get some natural light first thing in the morning.

Read more: How to stop waking up in the middle of the night

Fix any sleep issues

The reason you might not be sleeping well might have nothing to do with your environment or your phone screen. There are several underlying health issues that could be to blame. For instance, sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that causes you to temporarily stop breathing while sleeping, over and over again.

Perhaps your sleeping position is sabotaging your sleep. And if you’re one of the 35% of all Americans that experience sleep disturbances, you know just how frustrating it can feel to constantly wake up at night. It’s a form of insomnia that can be attributed to a variety of factors, including what you’re eating at night or stress. And while napping too late or too long can sometimes be to blame for sleep issues, theres a way to do it without ruining your sleep.

Finally, if you try to wake up early only to constantly snooze your alarms or oversleep, you might need to embrace the fact that you’re not a morning person. It’s possible to force yourself to become one, but it’s better to just embrace your natural sleep rhythm.


Track your sleep to see if you are actually resting at night.

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Track your sleep

You may be getting enough sleep, but that sleep might not be quality rest. Fortunately, these days, there is no shortage of ways to track it.

In addition to counting steps, wearable fitness trackers like the Fitbit Versa, and Garmin Vivomove HR also track your sleep. Just wear it to bed and it will track you through the night to tell you how much deep sleep you actually got, how many times you were awake and how long you were restless.

If you don’t want to wear something to bed, sensors like the iFit Sleep HR and Eight Sleep Tracker work with your existing bed and tell you how you slept. There are even all-in-one smart mattresses that can track the quality of your sleep.

Avoid technology before bed

Your body has a natural circadian rhythm that’s loosely based on the daylight hours. You probably wake up within an hour or two of the sun rising and begin to get sleepy after it sets.

That said, artificial light from screens (and even overheads) in your home can affect this. That’s why it’s not recommended to watch TV right before you should go to sleep (yeah, sure) or why you shouldn’t play on your phone in bed. 

For some people, leaving your phone out of the bedroom is the best way to avoid scrolling temptation at night. But this can be a problem if you rely on your phone to wake you up. So why not switch to an analog alarm clock or, even better, an alarm that wakes you up with light.


Keep your bedroom cool for the optimal sleep

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Create the perfect sleep environment

Winding down from your day is important to get the best rest and help you create the right environment to get some shut eye. try creating a consistent sleep routine you follow daily.

Beyond that, your bedroom should be the perfect oasis to encourage sleep. Keep your thermostat low because the best sleep happens in a room that’s about 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Pair this with an upgraded mattress, pillows, and a sound machine and you’re well on your way to the best night of sleep you’ve ever had.

Do you wake up with a dry mouth, cracked lips or nosebleeds? The humidity in your home may be too low. A humidifier will help add water vapor to the air, which can not only make the ambient temperature in the room feel cooler, but also help combat your dry skin and sinuses.

If you see an overabundance of dust collecting in the corners (faster than it should), it may be time to consider an air purifier.


Tossing and turning? You might need a new bed.


Get a better mattress

If the temperature in your home is comfortable and you’re not scrolling on your phone before bed but you keep waking up throughout the night, your mattress could be to blame. A mattress that’s too firm, too soft, or just too old could make all the difference to your sleep. 

While you’re at it, upgrade your pillows too. The right one can mean better rest, so long as you get the right pillow for how you sleep.

And if overheating is an issue for you (even if the room is cool) there’s a smart mattress that automatically adjusts to your body temperature, cooling the bed as your body temperature increases throughout the night. If you need mattress options, you can check out 11 of the best mattresses brands of 2019, compared here

More sleep tips

Wake up naturally. One of the quickest ways to ruin a great sleep session is to be yanked out of a deep sleep by a loud, annoying alarm. Instead, try switching to a calm alarm noise and pairing it with a smart bulb near your bedside. When it’s time to wake up, you can slowly fade the light on as the alarm sound rises.

Avoid sleeping in to ‘catch up’ on sleep. The phrase “behind on sleep” is a misnomer. Sleep debt, what Scientific American describes as the “difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get,” exists. But sleeping until noon the next day or over the weekend isn’t going to help you get caught up. In fact, it can make matters worse.

Stick to your natural circadian rhythm. Fighting your natural circadian rhythm or inadvertently altering it with your computer or phone can seriously affect the quality of sleep you get. It can also be frustrating to lie in bed at 2:00 a.m. and not feel tired at all.

If you feel like your circadian rhythm needs a fix, consider spending an extended weekend in the woods. The technology detox and mostly natural light will help you course correct.

Dim lights at dusk. One of the biggest culprits of your lack of sleep is the blue light emitted by the screens you’re constantly staring at — your phone, computer, tablet or even TV. This blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, which over time, will inevitably affect your circadian rhythm. Scheduling blue light filters — like Night Shift or f.lux — to kick in at your local sunset time can help by reducing the amount of blue light your eyes see after sunset.

Play audio games to give your eyes a rest. Instead of using your phone, use your smart speaker to listen to an audiobook or podcast. You can even play games with your Alexa-enabled or Google Home speakers, such as choose-your-own-adventure stories, trivia or even blackjack.

Cut back on coffee. While you might need a boost to help you power through the mid-afternoon slump to make it through your workday, you may want to forgo another cup of coffee. The effects of caffeine differ from person to person — it can not only keep you up late at night, it can also affect the quality of sleep you get. It can stay in your blood for up to eight hours, so drinking a cup after lunch might do more harm than good.

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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