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Getting a good night's sleep is one of those things we all dream of. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen as often as we'd like. Whether you’re waking up to tend to the kids or feeling restless because of stress, there are multiple things that can prevent you from getting a full night of rest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans say they don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. When TODAY conducted its own sleep survey, results showed that 52% of responders complained about insufficient sleep.
There are several solutions to help with these problems, and sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus stopped by the show in March 2019 to show us how to combat the most common issues.
Take a look at his advice — combined with recommendations from sleep researcher Dr. Rebecca Robbins and Good Housekeeping’s Rachel Rothman — to see how you can get a good night’s sleep with little effort.
Tips from Dr. Breus
Breus recommended trying this tea with raw honey before going to bed.
"One thing I noticed in my practice was that when people were waking up in the middle of the night, it was usually around the same time, about eight hours after their last meal," he said. "In my mind, I thought that maybe they had run out of blood sugar, and their brain was waking them to eat!"
Enjoyable hot or cold, this caffeine-free blend could be a great option for anyone who gets hungry in the middle of the night.
Weighted blankets are more popular than ever, and Breus pointed out a new study that shows they can be effective for reducing insomnia.
"We think that the weight helps your body realize it is supported and safe, which allows you to relax and let the natural sleep process take over," he said.
Breus recommended that everyone get a new pillow about every two years, since the structural integrity of a pillow will fail over time. He recommends a curved pillow that allows for neck support, as well as pillows with a zipper that allow you to remove the stuffing and adjust its shape as desired.
This light means you'll have a peaceful start to your morning without jarring alarms or caffeine cravings.
"Using light to help you wake up in the a.m. is an excellent way to be healthy and avoid too much caffeine," said Breus. "You are looking for a light that can give off 10,000 lux or more, and all you need is about 10-15 minutes and you're good to go! I like ones that are portable since I use light therapy to help me with jet lag."
If your snoring is keeping you awake — or maybe disturbing your partner — try a nasal dilator to open your nostrils and help you breathe better.
"This device literally pushes the congestion away to open the nostril and allow for unrestricted breathing," said Breus. "This always helps reduce snoring, since it allows the air to move more slowly and does not cause vibrations in the soft palate."
What to sleep on
It's impossible to have a good night's sleep in a bed that's uncomfortable. You might need to start from the ground up and replace a mattress — but the solution also might be as simple as trying new pillows.
Rothman recommended Casper mattresses to help reinvent your nights. This is the original design, but she also suggested their new Wave Mattress for added support. The company has also developed a light to help you wind down and sleep better.
Rothman liked that this soft, supportive pillow is a complete steal at any budget. Specifically made for stomach sleepers, the pillow has a flatter profile and provides support throughout the night.
Rothman picked this pillow because it has a personalized twist. It comes with extra stuffing that can be added or removed at will, allowing you to create a pillow that's just right. With memory foam and microfiber clusters, it's plush yet supportive.
Just like the above pillow, this option can be filled to your preference. Rothman liked this because it's infused with gel and the pillow stays cool to help you sleep better. Soft and light, it's an ideal pillow for stomach or back sleepers.
This pillow is perfect for anyone who wants memory foam support but is worried about the material being too warm, according to Rothman. With a layer of cooling gel on each side and a removable, machine-washable cotton cover, this pillow will resolve any temperature concerns.
What to sleep with
Of course, no bed is complete without sheets and blankets. Try upgrading your sleep space with these picks!
Weighted blankets are an increasingly popular sleep aid. Rothman recommended BlanQuil's blanket because it uses cutting-edge technology to disperse heat throughout, making it notably cooler to the touch than most weighted blankets.
These soft sateen sheets can help to make any sleep luxurious. Rothman liked the tear-resistant fabric and "long side/short side" tabs on the fitted sheet. The set comes with a fitted sheet, top sheet, and two pillowcases.
What to sleep in
The softest mattress and silkiest sheets are worthless if your pajamas themselves are uncomfortable! Instead of old T-shirts or pajama pants that are falling apart, try switching to one of these comfortable and stylish options.
Rothman recommends Lusome's soft pajama shorts, since the fabric is specifically engineered to avoid night sweats.
Made of the same material as the brand's sleep shorts, this T-shirt is just as cool and comfortable. With a perfect balance between aesthetics and function, these pieces work great individually or as a set.
How to fall asleep faster and easier
In TODAY's survey, 18% of people said they suffered from restless leg syndrome, a neurological disorder that creates a continuous urge to move your legs and prevents you from falling asleep. Here are some items that may be able to help you ease your body as you fall asleep.
Calm is a meditation app that can guide you through breathing and relaxation exercises. Rothman recommended the app as a great tool to help get your mind ready for sleep.
The subscription-based app offers guided and unguided meditation, sleep stories, soothing sounds and breathing exercises.
Living in a busy environment? Kept awake by street traffic or roommate noises? Try bringing some peace back into your life with a sound machine. Rothman liked this model because it features a fan-based natural white noise sound with two speeds.
Robbins suggested using this light one hour before bedtime instead of your typical light bulb to help you fall asleep faster. The light spectrum of the bulb allows for the production of melatonin, which supports your body's natural circadian rhythm.
Dodow is a metronome with a light system that teaches you how to fall asleep naturally without taking any medicine. Does it take you an hour to fall asleep? This device says it will have you out in 25 minutes.
This belt uses breathing exercises to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It is said to help improve sleep patterns after two to three weeks of use.
How to stay asleep longer
Of those surveyed, 15% considered themselves interrupted sleepers, meaning they woke up throughout the night due to everything from outside noises to crying babies.
1. Noisli App
This noise and color app can help you relax before going to bed as well as help create an environment that will promote a good night's sleep.
If you are looking for a similar effect, this sound machine is $19 on Amazon and one TODAY editor can't live without it.
The fabric on these sheets and pillowcases reduces trapped body heat to make your bed feel cool all night long.
This pillow has pressure-relieving memory foam and iCool technology to keep you cool all night.
This Amazon Alexa-enabled gadget can track the sleep patterns of two people at once. It monitors respiration, heart rates and sleep behaviors, and it can tell you the optimal time to wake up.
How to stop snoring
In our survey, 11% of participants considered themselves snorers. While snoring is fairly common, heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, which requires professional attention.
These cups attach either directly to your body or clothing and can be placed anywhere to achieve your desired sleep position. When you roll, they will nudge you back into position!
2. Smart Nora
The Nora is an innovative device that can monitor snoring sounds and sends movements into the attached pillow once detected. Rothman is a fan, and it was also previously one of Oprah's Favorite Things!
For more stories like this, check out:
- This $25 eye gel is taking over Amazon — we asked dermatologists why
- These are the best blackout curtains for light sleepers
- These $25 bedsheets are soft, pill-resistant and stay cool all night long
This article was originally published on Jan. 9, 2019