Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Sleep Ever
22 tips for your best snooze yet.
Published Jan 24, 2019 11:30 AM
Do you have trouble sleeping? Maybe you do, or maybe you’re just not sure your particular method of sleeping is living up to its full potential. Whatever the case, why settle for subpar sleep when you don’t have to? Life is too short to be anything less than fully rested when you wake up in the morning.
Consider all of your questions answered—this is your ultimate ‘How To Fall Asleep Guide’. From perfecting your environment so it’s sleep-friendly, to making your skincare routine work for you while you sleep, to natural tricks that’ll help you get to Snoozeville even faster, we’ve assembled the best of the best tricks and tips into this handy sleep guide.
Consider Your Wall Paint Color
Did you know that the color you paint your bedroom can not only help you fall asleep faster, but also improve the quality of your sleeping? Grays, blues, and other muted tones can promote sleep, whereas fiery reds and oranges can actually inhibit it. But beyond just the importance of choosing the right colors, you can also extend your color choices to your furniture and decor, too.
Beautify Your Pillowcases
Turns out your bedding, especially your pillowcases, can make a huge difference in regards to how you look when you wake up in the a.m., but also how you age in the long run. Most importantly though, make sure you’re washing your sheets weekly.
Dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told us that dirt, oil, sweat, pollution, and makeup accumulate on our skin, and “unfortunately we don’t wash our faces as well as we should (or at all) at the end of the day.” As a result, all of this can be transferred to your pillowcase, which, in turn, contaminates your face. “Dirty pillowcases can lead both to acne breakouts from blocked pores, or even irritation, and skin inflammation from rubbing against your face,” he says.
Choose Sheets That Help You Sleep
How you sleep, i.e. always hot or cold in the middle of the night, should be a factor when it comes to picking your next bedding. Different fabrics are actually better for different types of sleepers. For example, hot sleepers can find themselves waking up in the morning, or in the middle of the night, sweating even if their rooms are at normal temperatures, and will need a more breathable fabric than people who run cold when they sleep.
If you run hot, you’ll be better off with percale sheets if you run hot. Percale weaves are perfect for those who enjoy a cooler, crisp feel in their sheets. A good option would be Brooklinen Classic Hardcore Sheet Bundle ($195) or West Elm 400 Thread Count Organic Cotton Percale Sheet Set ($109).
If you run cold, sateen sheets are your best bet as they have a tighter weave and a higher thread count so less air passes through while you sleep, keeping you warmer throughout the night. An amazing, silky smooth pick is Parachute Home Sateen Sheet Set ($149).
Change the Temperature
Speaking of running hot or cold, you know how when you’re trying to fall asleep on a steamy night and the A/C just isn’t beating the heat and it’s the absolute worst? There are a few pre-bed hacks to keep you cool on a hot night.
The recommended temperature for optimal sleep is 65 degrees. Martin Rawls-Meehan, CEO and co-founder of sleep tech company Reverie, says the obvious solution is air conditioning, but for those who do not have central air flow, all hope is not lost.
“When temperature-proofing your sleep, one of the primary places to focus is your own bed,” he says. “The temperature your bed retains and transmits back to you can have a great impact on your body temperature and, in turn, your sleep quality.” This not only includes the sheets, but mattress and pillows, too.
Rethink Your Memory Foam Mattress
Adam Tishman, co-founder of sleep company Helix, noted that “certain materials—like memory foam—sleep hot, and that’s not cool for your sleep quality.”
For the coolest sleeping experience, Rawls-Meehan maintains that all-natural latex is the best choice. “Latex comfort layers are made with pinholes that allow air circulation and will keep you cool and dry,” he says.
Invest In A Good Pillow
To keep a cool head, Rawls-Meehan recommended choosing a synthetic down pillow with a cotton pillowcase. “It’s a good, affordable way to stay cool because cotton is breathable, and synthetic fill doesn’t retain heat,” he says. Surprisingly, wool is another good choice, as it regulates temperature, helping you feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter, he noted.
Wear Cotton Pajamas
For sleepwear as well as sheets, Tishman recommended choosing cotton because it’s breathable and promotes better airflow. “When you’re picking PJs, cotton’s also best—choose something lightweight and loose so you’re comfortable and sweat isn’t sticking to your skin (or your mattress),” he says. Set aside your flannel and wool for the season, and choose a crisp cotton pajama, like LAKE Shore Long-Short Set ($84).
Rawls-Meehan suggests tossing the blanket off of your bed and instead employing your top sheet as a light, cool cover. “Avoid hot materials like flannel or satin,” he says. “Instead, opt for breathable cotton or heat-wicking linen.”
Turns out your PJs can be working smarter and harder while you’re snoozing. When buying pajamas, you should focus on the fabric, and look for items that will not only be comfortable immediately, but also ones that will wear (and wash) well in the long run. Stick to the fabrics that work harder, especially natural fibers, like silk, cotton, and alpaca.
Clever, comfortable design is also a much overlooked but very important piece of the puzzle, too. Find PJs with necklines that are designed to not twist, vents in the back of the tops to keep you cool, even a vent in front of each leg for ease of movement while rolling around. Sleepwear should never wake you up in discomfort ever again.
Even better yet, some really impressive advancements are being made to make your pajamas even more comfortable, or cool (literally). From a bioceramic imprinted fabric that cools off the body’s infrared heat to promote longer and sounder sleep, to a fabric that can breathe and keep you cool. We’re huge fans of Lunya and their super chic and cozy washable silk pajamas.
Take A Bath
“Epsom and sea salts are both luxurious and healthy,” says Dr. Gabrielle Francis. “High in magnesium and other minerals, they relax muscles and calm the mind, while removing toxins like lactic acid from soft tissues.” She recommends mixing two cups of salt into a warm bath and soaking for 20 minutes. “Relax and visualize stress leaving your body.”
Soak Your Feet
This ancient Chinese technique is a great option if you don’t want to commit to a full bath. “Soak your feet in warm water for 30 minutes before going to bed, then press the kidney (KI) acupoint [on the bottom of the foot] for 10 minutes,” says acupuncturist Wen Jiang. “It is located a third of the way along a line drawn from the root of the second toe to the heel.”
If you don’t have a half an hour, Nicole Withrow recommends at least 10 to 15 minutes. “This works to help ground the body’s energy before getting into bed by utilizing the kidney channel on the bottom of the feet to help settle the central nervous system,” Withrow explains. She also suggests combining this practice with other forms of relaxation such as breathwork, meditation, prayer, or reading.
Massage Your Toes
“If I had to give one tip, it would be to massage the pads of all the toes—especially the big toe,” says Dan Ferguson. These areas help to calm the mind and the brain. The pressure you place should be light to moderate and only needs to be done for about 45 seconds.
Utilize Essential Oils
“Essential oils help because of their pharmacological effects on your physiology, and because of their olfactory effects on the limbic system of your brain,” Dr. Francis explains.
She specifically suggests using lavender: “Lavender essential oil stimulates the part of the autonomic nervous system known as the parasympathetic system that helps to calm the body and takes us out of fight or flight mode.” Try adding a couple drops to a diffuser, to bathwater, or inhale directly from the bottle.
Spritz Your Way To Sleep
Tossing and turning during the night? Have you tried a sleep spray? Some of the most sound sleepers in the world swear by them for their abilities to reduce nighttime anxiety and soothe you to sleep.
The typical mist usually contains some blend of water, herbal ingredients, and essential oils, such as lavender. The idea is that you spritz it on your sheets and pillows right before hopping in bed, then breathe in deeply as you drift off to sleep.
“Olfactory sensations are processed in the same part of the brain that is responsible for emotions and memories,” says Ceceil Mendal, the essential oil expert company Little Moon Essentials. “In studies, the essential oils used in sleep products have been found the most effective at promoting feelings of sleepiness and relaxation.” Give the cult-classic This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($29) a try, or equally great Calm Sleep Mist ($29)—both have a lavender and essential oil mix that can lull you to sleep quickly.
Don’t Forget About Powerful Lavender
If you haven’t caught on by now, lavender is your dearest friend when you want to hit Snoozeville. Why?
“Research (see this study and this study) suggests that lavender fragrance affects the human body by decreasing cortisol level, blood pressure, and heart rate,” says Night Pillow co-founder Kalle Simpson. “Lavender fragrance can be especially beneficial for people dealing with anxiety, depression, or stress to combat the elevated levels of cortisol and high blood pressure and heart rate that can lead to disrupted sleep quality and insomnia.” Whether it be in bath salts, essential oils, or sleep sprays, don’t be shy when utilizing the sleepy time herb.
Wear a Sleep Mask
If you’re not utilizing a sleep mask in your routine, you’re not living your best life. Not only is the sleep mask great for falling asleep in bed, but it’s also cozy, inexpensive, and easy for traveling. It’s a total game-changer. We’re huge fans of Slip Silk Mask ($45).
Though popularized by Audrey Hepburn in 1961’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the sleep mask was invented in 1931 as a way of mitigating sleeplessness caused by modern lighting systems. That idea was backed up as recently as 2010 by the UCLA Sleep Disorder Center, whose research again demonstrated that “direct exposure to such abnormal light sources inhibits the body’s secretion of melatonin,” the chemical that signals our bodies to shut down for the night.
Exfoliate, Then Snooze
Sweet dreams were made of this…overnight exfoliating peel. Exfoliation is just as important as moisturizing for hydrated, smooth skin. If you choose the right one, you can wake up impossibly fresh face. The secret is picking one that is gentle enough to stay on the skin for eight hours, but still effective enough for a fresh difference come morning. Try out Lancome Absolute Precious Cells Rose Drop Night Peeling Concentrate ($110).
Try A (Copper-Infused) Pillowcase
What if we told you that you could fight fine lines by simply lying down on your pillowcase? Well, as long as you invest in a pillowcase that is infused with copper, you can do just that. The copper ions are transferred to the skin while you sleep to support the skin’s natural renewal process, helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase ($60) is fantastic.
Revive Your Strands
If you apply an overnight hair mask before bed and then sleep with it on, you seriously boost the benefits. If you’re worried about a mess on your pillow, simply put a towel over your pillowcase or pull your hair up into a bun or wrap a scarf around your locks to contain the product. Christophe Robin Moisturizing Hair Oil with Lavender ($47) will seriously gives your strands some major shine and TLC.
Invest in a humidifier
If you find that your skin tends to be dry or itchy, investing in a humidifier will help soothe it. By adding moisture back into the air, it helps put moisture back into your skin. Dyson Humidifier ($499.99) will majorly get to work in a dry bedroom.
Don’t Forget Feet & Hands
The beauty of overnight gel-infused gloves and socks will seriously moisturize on another level. While these will work in a pinch when you need a 15-minute quick moisture boost, they tend to really shine and get the job done when worn overnight. It’s not the most glamorous thing to wear to bed, but it’s worth it come the morning. We’re fans of Bliss Glamour Gloves ($40.99) and Earth Therapeutics Aloe Moisture Ultra Plush Gloves & Socks ($12).
Sip Decaf Tea
Decaffeinated hot teas with herbs, like chamomile and lavender, are great and work two-fold. “Chamomile and lavender both have been shown to help relax the body by lowering heart rate and blood pressure,” says Night Pillow co-founder Kalle Simpson. Also, your body temperature will cool down to balance the heat from the hot drink, and a lower body temperature can also induce sleepiness.
Don’t care for chamomile or lavender tea? No problem, here’s a definitive list of all teas that’ll help come bedtime. Including classic Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Tea, the delicious sounding Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea, or mint and apple blend David’s Tea Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Take a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium is a mega stress reliever, aiding those whose insomnia is stress-induced. “Magnesium produces blockers to inhibit cortisol (stress hormones) production in our brain,” says Night Pillow co-founder Kalle Simpson. “This is key for allowing us to turn off and stay asleep throughout the night.” If you’re not into ingesting your magnesium, try soaking in a magnesium-infused bath. Naturopathica Sweet Birch Magnesium Bath Flakes ($38) is a dream come true before bedtime.
Eat Sleep-Inducing Foods
“Bananas are actually a great sleep aid, too, because they contain tryptophan, which has sleep-inducing properties,” says Simpson. Tryptophan works by releasing serotonin, which promotes positive feelings of wellbeing, and also fights anxiety and depression that can otherwise keep you awake, she adds. “Because bananas contain natural sugars, they are a great way to satiate that sweet tooth that would otherwise cause you to opt for blood sugar spiking desserts, which can wreak havoc on your sleep,” says Simpson.
Calcium deficiency is thought to be a common cause of insomnia. If eating yogurt before bed, add a teaspoon of honey, which has a calming effect (and it’s just super delicious too).
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it could also be a magnesium deficiency. Too much caffeine and stress, and improper hydration post-exercise can deplete magnesium levels. This can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, and other physical symptoms like insomnia. And since approximately half of adults are deficient in this mineral to some degree, it’s a good idea to get some magnesium-rich foods into your daily routine. Kelp, almonds, figs, dates, brown rice, and, yep, avocado are all excellent options.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is shown to reduce stress hormones and create a restful mood. This tasty fish also contains Vitamin B-6, which boosts melatonin production, a hormone that promotes a good night’s sleep.
Rather than reaching for a nightcap, try a glass of tart cherry juice or a handful of dried tart cherries—they are a natural source of melatonin. Just make sure you opt for ones with no added sugar.
Kale is a great source of calcium and potassium, which helps you get (and stay) asleep. While kale is seeing a surge in health and wellness popularity, the super thick veg may not be for everyone. To get your daily dose without the rough texture, try adding this green to a smoothie or whipping up some sea salt and vinegar kale chips for snacking.
Adjust Your Schedule
Still having trouble snoozing? It might be time to look at your day-to-day routine to see if any of the following are sleep preventing culprits.
Stop eating two hours before bedtime in order to allow your food to digest.
What you’re drinking before bed can also impact your quality of sleep. That includes limiting caffeine after 2:00 p.m., and alcohol too close to bedtime.
Anyone with blood sugar issues should limit carbohydrates after dinner to avoid spiking your blood sugar.
Color us shocked, because apparently there are certain workouts that are better than others at night to help you fall asleep faster. On the good list? Yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, barre, low-intensity cardio, and non-vigorous strength training.
When In Doubt, Drink This
Please meet your new best friend, Golden Mylk. It is comforting, full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and ultimately will help you sleep so much better. The coconut milk, turmeric, and ginger mix is an easy DIY at home, too. Sweet dreams, indeed.
The blue light from cell phones and other forms of technology substantially make it harder to fall asleep, but don’t store that phone away just yet—thanks to some new sleep-inducing apps, a great night’s sleep might just be a download away. Sleep Time helps you not wake up mid-REM. A Domino favorite, Calm, has a plethora of sleepy time stories to lull you to bed. And Relax Melodies helps you curate your ultimate sleepy time sounds.