How to Get Better Sleep, According to Experts

Looking to catch better quality Zs? Try these expert-recommended products to help you fall and stay soundly asleep all night long.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
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Going to sleep early is easy, but actually falling asleep? That can be a whole lot harder. Between the temptation to endlessly scroll through social media and the anxiety that comes with the current state of the world (thanks, pandemic!), restless nights have become the norm for most of us. If you’re also struggling to slumber soundly, you know that counting sheep is never quite enough. So, what can you do? We reached out to a handful of sleep experts for tips on how to improve your bedtime routine and the products worth investing in to help you get enough quality shuteye.

“Keeping a consistent sleep/wake routine supports homeostasis between our sleep drive and our circadian rhythm, which in turn can make it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake feeling rested,” says Kelly O’Brien, National Board-certified health and wellness coach, and sleep coach at Proper. To achieve a strict bedtime routine, she also recommends abstaining from working and the use of electronic devices in the bedroom, that way you avoid the “micro hits of activation to the brain when you want to power down.” Another way to support your routine is by “finding ways to relax the body before sleep to signal the brain that sleep is on its way,” says Amelia Jerden, sleep expert and writer at Sleepopolis.

With those tips in mind, take a look at some of the products they recommended to help make your dreams a bit sweeter.

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How to fall asleep

“Your bedroom should be a space that evokes calm, comfort and restfulness,” says O’Brien. “That can mean different things to different people, but in general means a clutter-free environment, comfortable bedding, cool temperatures and ideal humidity (around 30-50%).” Also, keeping the lights as dim as possible in the evening encourages your body to begin its natural progression towards sleep. “Many use apps that offer guided sleep meditations that help quiet a busy mind and support falling asleep easier (or getting back to sleep during the night),” she says. She also recommends Proper’s Digital Sleep Journal to help you keep track of what works and what you can improve in your bedtime routine.

What you do before bedtime also affects your sleep, that’s why Jerden encourages you to build a consistent routine that trains your brain to know when it’s time to rest. That includes taking a warm bath or shower, skincare, and reading a book. Besides that, setting the mood with a white noise, rain, or nature sounds machine can help you create a calm environment for sleep. Jerden recommends this one from SNOOZ. “A big pro is that this machine has a real built-in fan, unlike many other machines or apps with recorded sound. Additionally, it has an easy-to-use app, is easy to clean, has a large volume range, and you can set it on a schedule,” she says. “Other sound machines I recommend are the Marpac Dohm (also has a built-in fan creating the sound), HoMedics (great for an affordable price), and the Hatch Rest + (has a built-in clock, variety of sounds, and endless night light colors to choose from).”

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

How to stay asleep

If you’re a light sleeper, the tricky part is to stay asleep throughout the night. That’s why it’s important to anticipate anything that could disturb you. “For clients who struggle with negotiating a cooler temperature with a sleep partner, a cooling pad on one side of the bed can be the answer,” says O’Brien. “If their snoring is disruptive, ear plugs might do the trick.”

Jerden, who reviews sleep products for a living, highly recommends weighted blankets because they’re both relaxing and calming. “A few I personally reviewed and found to be great for sleep are the ones from Gravity (best overall), Bearaby (best breathable), Casper (best cotton), Nectar (best for hot sleepers), and Luxome (best plush),” she says. Another must-have to stay asleep as long as possible is by adding blackout curtains to your windows. “Blackout curtains can help create an optimal, serene space for sleep,” she assures. “My team has found the NICETOWN Grommet Top Blackout Curtains to be one of the best. The fabric is the same on both sides, there’s a wide variety of fifteen different colors, and a grommet top, which creates a good fold when extended and is perfect for either a classic or modern feel.”

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