Did you know that:
- The Brown Bat (not pictured; significantly less cute) is the mammal that sleeps the most, typically clocking just short of 20 hours per day
- The average person will spend one third of their life asleep
- 35% of adults are getting less sleep than they need
You’ve probably heard thousands of ways to better your sleep, from turning off electronics an hour before getting in bed to drinking warm milk with honey, but which methods do the experts themselves use?
David Nebauer, a psychiatrist and professor at Johns Hopkins University has recommended sleeping with a bedside fan every night, no matter what. He notes that people sleep better in colder temperatures, and also explains the added benefit of white noise, which soothes and blocks out louder sounds that could be disturbing to sleep. Dr. Nebauer’s recommended temperature for sleeping would be described as “a little chilly when you’re not covered up.”
Get out of bed
Yes, you read that right. The next time you’re having a hard time sleeping, try getting up and doing a calm activity elsewhere in your apartment – but try to stay in the dark. Many sleep experts have said that reserving the bed for sleeping and sleeping only helps train your mind to see the bed as a relaxing place, rather than a place where you lay down and worry about things.
Put some thought into your pillows
First and foremost, you should be replacing your pillows once a year. When you do it, remember that there are many different options, even though it may feel overwhelming when they all look exactly the same on that ten foot wall in Bed Bath & Beyond. Start by thinking about what position you typically sleep in. If you’re a back or stomach sleeper, opt for a thinner pillow. If you sleep on your side, try to find something a little more firm to support your shoulder. Then, figure out what type of filling you like. Experts recommend down or feather-filled pillows, because it’s easy to change their shape to fit your body in the optimal way.
More blankets, less problems
If you happen to share a bed, you’ve probably participated in a middle-of-the-night blanket war with your partner. There’s a pretty simple piece of advice for avoiding this problem, and frankly I’m not sure why this isn’t a standard thing by now: get another blanket! Having one blanket per person is a significantly less extreme solution than getting separate beds to avoid sleep disruption, and who doesn’t want a little extra fluff in their bed?
Hear me out on this one: Colin Espie, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, says that “thinking about sleep and wishing for it to happen is a recipe for staying awake. If you give yourself the paradoxical instruction to stay awake instead, you’ll be more likely to fall asleep.” Eventually, you’ll probably get so confused by what you’re trying to tell your body to do that you’ll fall asleep anyway.