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How to fix your sleep schedule, according to experts | CNN Underscored


This article is a part of CNN Underscored’s Guide to Sleep, a weeklong focus on everything you need to sleep better. We’ll be featuring new products, tips and exclusive deals all week, so check in every morning to see what’s new.

If you want to get better, more restful sleep, there are tons of easy things you can do to catch as many zzz’s as possible. Things like work, stress and other daily habits impact your quality of sleep, so we talked to experts to find helpful tips and tricks so you can take on every day fully rested.

Adults not only need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but they also need to get quality sleep by staying asleep long enough to transition through full sleep cycles, including deep sleep, says clinical psychologist and author Whitney Roban, who founded Solve Our Sleep.

“It is during this stage of deep sleep that our brain consolidates and processes information from the day, which is very important during stressful times,” she says. “The biggest cause of impairment to our quantity and quality of sleep is stress and anxiety. Our brain and our bodies need to be relaxed in order to fall asleep and stay asleep. Our bodies release cortisol in times of stress, which leads to lower melatonin levels and trouble falling asleep as well as interrupted sleep.”


We asked experts for advice on getting a good night’s sleep, which not only repairs and recharges us, but helps benefit our physical and mental wellness, according to Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist and host of the “SuperCharged Life” podcast.

“Sleep is crucial for us to be able to make good decisions, regulate emotions well, be in a better mood, boost immunity, improve attention and memory, lower blood pressure, maintain healthy weight, reduce diabetes and keep our heart healthy,” she says.

Here are tips from sleep experts that may help you rest easier tonight.

Put the phone away

Our phones are often how we keep in touch with the rest of the world; whether that be checking the news, catching up on social trends or chatting with friends and family members. And, while you might already know that being attached to your phone isn’t the best thing for your mental health, you might not realize how it’s also affecting your physical health. “Constant contact with your phone can hinder both productivity during the day and your sleep quality at night,” says certified sleep science coach Matthew Ross, co-founder of The Slumber Yard.

Beyond the negative aspects related to blue light, having your phone next to you can make you feel anxious, he adds. “When your phone is within arm’s reach, you’ll be tempted to check news outlets and think about the current crisis, which will obviously cause stress.” He suggests charging your phone in a different room at night. Another way to ensure you won’t be reaching for your phone when you should be sleeping: a phone safe.

Vaultz Combination Lock Box


This clear personal storage box allows you to store the family’s devices away, making them only accessible by using a three-digit combination lock. Having to undo the lock will make you think twice before accessing your device.

$38 at Amazon

Mindsight Timed Lock Box


For a more tech-forward lock box approach, try this Mindsight box which holds four to five phones and has a built-in timer to make sure all hands stay off.

$40 at Amazon

ySky Portable Smart Auto Phone Timer Lock Box


And if you just need something to help with your own personal self-control, try this ySky box which also lets you keep your phone charging so it’s ready to go when you need it again.

$24 at Amazon

Stretch before bed

Ross recommends doing some light stretching exercises about 15 to 30 minutes before lying down. “It’s often difficult to fall asleep when your muscles are tense and tight, which can happen during times of extreme stress,” he says. “If you go to bed tight, you’ll likely end up tossing and turning frequently in order to find a comfortable position. Stretching will help loosen up your muscles and get your body in a relaxed state for sleep.”

Lululemon The Mat 5mm


Ho agrees that exercise is very important for getting good sleep. “Be creative around the house,” she says. “Dance, exercise to a YouTube video, clean the house at a fast pace to music… Do this earlier in the day — before early afternoon — if you want to improve sleep rather than disrupt it.” Having a trusty yoga mat on-hand, like this top Lululemon pick, will help remind you to take a moment to stretch or set aside time to work up a sweat.

Read our review

From $94 at Lululemon

Amazon Basics Round Foam Roller


Or use a foam roller — like this one, which is easy to stash in a corner when not in use — to get some of the kinks out by lying on it or rolling it over sore spots.

$10 at Amazon

Chirp 10-Inch Wheel Foam Roller


If you’re looking for something new to ease that laptop-induced neck and lower back tension, you might give this yoga wheel a whirl. It comes with suggestions for poses, but there are tons of tutorials available online as well.

$55 $50 at Amazon

Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands, Set of 5


These exercise bands from Fit Simplify are an easy and compact way to stretch out after a long day. This pack comes with five different resistance levels so you can tailor your stretch to your needs.

$21 $11 at Amazon

Theragun Mini Massage Gun

Theragun mini Therabody

After a stressful day, there’s nothing like a good massage. With a Theragun, you can get all the benefits of a massage from the comfort of your home.

Read our review

$199 at Therabody

Wear an eye mask or earplugs

Certified sleep science coach Jason Piper, founder of Build Better Sleep, says that getting proper high-quality sleep will help you to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, handle stress better, improve your mood and be more resilient.

Especially during uncertain times, “being able to flex and bend instead of break will allow you to come out… better,” he says. Sleeping in a completely dark room helps lead to maximum melatonin production, according to Piper.

Manta Sleep Mask


Piper’s favorite mask is made by Manta Sleep. This mask touts 100% blackout capability, and fans swear by how well it stays on throughout the night.

$35 at Amazon

Mack’s Ultra-Soft Foam Earplugs

Mack’s Ultra-Soft Foam Earplugs

“I also use earplugs to block out any stray noises,” Piper says. “By blocking out light and sound, you control two environmental factors that interrupt sleep.” This tub of Mack’s earplugs is a bestseller, and we love them for how comfortable they are to wear.

$15 at Amazon

Mavogel Cotton Sleep Mask


Our pick for best sleep mask, this Mavogel mask will help block out residual light to create a distraction free space for you to fall asleep with. We also love that it comes with an adjustable head strap and nose bridge for an even more personalized fit.

Read our review

$20 $10 at Amazon

Brooklinen Mulberry Silk Eyemask


For hot sleepers, a cool to the touch silk eye mask may be a better fit. This luxurious option from Brooklinen comes in nine colors and is super breathable for all-around comfort while you sleep.

From $25 at Brooklinen

Homedics SoundSleep White Noise Sound Machine


Roban also recommends using a sound machine to “drown out loud sounds such as snoring bedmates, noisy neighbors and any other distracting external noises that may interfere with sleep.”

From $20 at Amazon

MadeByCoopers Soothing Bath Salts


Soothing aromatherapy products, such as these bestselling lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary bath salts or a chamomile-scented candle “are calming to the mind and body before drifting off to sleep,” says Roban.

$32 at Etsy

Write in a gratitude journal

Certified sleep expert Martha Lewis, founder and CEO of the The Sleep Detective, says taking a few minutes to reflect on your day and think about what you’re grateful for can improve sleep. She cites an English study of 400 adults that found gratitude increased the quality of sleep, decreased the time it took to fall asleep and lengthened how long people slept.

“Since gratitude activates our hypothalamus and our hypothalamus controls our sleep, when we are thankful it makes it easier for us to fall asleep,” she says. She recommends using gratitude journals to write down three things you’re grateful for every day.

Intelligent Change ‘The Five-Minute Journal’


This Five-Minute Journal makes the daunting task of journaling feel more manageable. With five simple prompts, you’ll be feeling much clearer after jotting down just a few lines and you’ll also have a concise record of your days ready at a glance.

$29 at Amazon

Paperage Lined Journal Notebook


If you prefer unprompted journaling, grab this Paperage journal which comes in 24 colors. Perfect for whether you want to give gratitude, make plans for the day ahead or just brain dump your thoughts to go to sleep with a clear mind.

$12 at Amazon

Modern Kid Press ‘The 3-Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids’


Get the kiddos involved with a gratitude journal made just for them, with fun things to fill out and prompts to brighten their perspective.

$7 at Amazon

Try blue-light-blocking glasses

Lewis says the blue light from screens and lightbulbs suppresses melatonin, your sleepy hormone. “Wearing glasses that block that blue light can encourage melatonin production in the evening before bed so you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night,” she says. “Since they’re available on Amazon for $10 a pair, it can’t hurt to give them a try if you have a hard time falling asleep at night.”

AOSM Blue Light Blocking Glasses, 2-Pack


This bargain option has loads of positive reviews and comes in a handful of color options.

From $12 at Amazon

Swanwick Blue Light Blocking Glasses


Another brand that’s highly rated is Swanwick, known for blocking blue-light exposure. These glasses can be worn when the sun is up as well as after the sun goes down.

From $79 at Amazon

EyeBuyDirect St Michel Glasses


For a slightly trendier look, shop these St Michel frames which are available in seven finishes and three sizes, with various levels of blue light lens protection starting at $62.

From $62 at Eyebuydirect

Follow a routine

“Try to follow a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up approximately the same time each day,” Roban advises. “Our bodies thrive on consistency, and a consistent sleep schedule promotes healthy sleep.”

She recommends following a brief and consistent bedtime routine every night. “Do something that relaxes you — yoga stretches, deep breathing, journaling, reading a nondigital book, listening to relaxing music — every night before bed. A consistent bedtime routine will signal to the brain and body that it is time for sleep.”

Be sure to take part in both productive hours and relaxation hours, Ho adds — but try to keep them separate. Especially, if you work and play in the same space.

“It’s very easy right now to just mix work and pleasure in all areas of the house,” she says. “Make sure you have hours for work — and locations within the home associated with work — and mimic the idea of leaving work where you stop working by early evening or late afternoon and go to the other areas of your house associated with relaxation.”

Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520

Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520 Amazon

Once you’re awake, Ho says to make time for sunlight. “Depending on your skin type, aim for 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight in the morning, even if it is indirect, such as via a windowsill,” she says. “This helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, which is important for sleep.” And if your space gets limited natural light, mimic the effects of rising at dawn with this Phillips sunrise alarm clock.

$109 $90 at Amazon

Jall Digital Alarm Clock


If you’ve got your phone locked up for the night, you may need a new alarm clock to help keep that regular schedule. Our pick for the best overall alarm clock, the Jall Wooden Clock not only looks sleek but is simple to use, ensuring you get up on time every morning.

Read our review

From $18 at Amazon

Loftie Alarm Clock


If you’re really looking to make your nightstand more luxurious, this Loftie clock will not only gently wake you up, but will also help lull you to sleep with a large library of soothing meditations, soundscapes, white noises, sound baths and even bedtime stories.

$149 $119 at Loftie

Upgrade your sleeping arrangements

Roban says sleep deprivation has been shown to affect our daily cognitive, emotional, psychological, physical and behavioral functioning. “Sleep deprivation is related to significant medical issues such as a weak immune system, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and cancer,” she says. “It is related to significant emotional issues such as anxiety and depression, and behavioral issues such as inattention, impulsivity, irritability, lethargy and poor memory.”

Casper The Casper Mattress, Queen


She suggests investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows as well as soft sheets. We like this Casper mattress for it’s budget-friendly price point, temperature control, edge support and overall comfort.

Read our review

$995 $846 at Casper

Parachute Down Alternative Pillow


If you’re not feeling supported while you sleep, it might be time to look for a new pillow. Whether your a side-sleeper, back sleeper or stomach sleeper, we’ve tested plenty help find the perfect pillow for you. We loved the soft and squishy fill of this Parachute pillow and the choice to chose from firm and soft options for more customized support.

Read our review

From $80 at Parachute

Bearaby Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket


“Uncomfortable sleep surfaces will decrease sleep quantity and quality,” Roban says, adding that a weighted blanket can “help relax the body while lounging during the day as well as when falling asleep at night.” We love this Bearaby napper which despite it’s chunky, knitted look is super breathable.

Read our review

From $199 at Bearaby

ZonLi Weighted Blanket


For a more affordable option, this ZonLi blanket comes in weights ranging from seven to 25-pounds, which makes it a great choice to shop for kids and adults.

$80 $50 at Amazon

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