Sleep Awareness Week 2024: 4 Tips to start sleeping better tonight, according to sleep experts

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Why you can trust usWe may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we believe in. Pricing and availability are subject to change.Sleep Awareness Week 2024: 4 Tips to start sleeping better tonight, according to sleep expertsApril McCormickMarch 8, 2024 at 8:40 PM

If you haven’t heard by now, sleep is very important. Getting the right amount of quality sleep is crucial to our overall health and because of that, there is a huge industry built around making sure we all get what we need. The importance of getting the word out about sleep led the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to create a whole week dedicated to sleep awareness.

Quick OverviewBedgear Flow Cuddle Curve Pillow: Side sleeper – With air vents and breathable mesh $180 at AmazonCult Classic Pillow – True Temp foam pillow from Sleep Number$109 at Sleep NumberBeckham Hotel Collection (2pack): Back sleeper – Down Alternative Gel Cooling Pillow for Back, Stomach or Side Sleepers$60 at AmazonParallel Low Profile Pillow: Stomach sleepers – ParaPur™ self-cleaning technology $150 at ParallelHeadleveler – The world’s first made-to-measure custom pillow$105 – $210 at HeadlevelerCozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set – A staple on “Oprah’s Favorite” list$270 (Twin) at Cozy EarthBedgear: Hot sleeper – Ver-Tex Instant Cooling, Ultra-Soft sheet$300 at AmazonLuxclub Cooling Microfiber Bed Sheets Wrinkle Free Breathable Sheet Sets$35 at WalmartSilky TENCEL™ Sheets: More absorbent than cotton, softer than silk $139 – $179 at West ElmCalm App: Narrated sleep stories, guided meditation or soothing soundsFree to $14.99 a month at CalmMoonbird – World’s first handheld breath trainer: promotes sleep and less anxiety$199 at MoonbirdApple Watch Series 9: Track your sleep, fitness and heart health with this smartwatch$349 at AmazonOura Ring: A sleep lab, wrapped around your finger.Track your sleep and get daily in-depth reports on every aspect of your sleep health$299 – $349 at OuraSee 8 more

NSF is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy, and it’s holding its annual Sleep Awareness Week 2024 March 10 – 16. The goal is to bring awareness to the direct connection between sleep and overall health. How you sleep at night doesn’t only dictate how tired you feel the next day; studies show the direct correlation between how well you sleep and cognitive performance, physiological processes, emotional regulation, mental health and quality of life. Dr. Syed Aslam, a Pulmonary Disease and Sleep Medicine physician tells us, “Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.” Pulmonologist Dr. Sandeep Gupta, adds, “Finding the right balance of sleep will help you fall asleep more easily over time. It’s important to maintain a regular schedule, as irregular sleep patterns can lead to poorer sleep quality, as seen in students during summer vacation or in retirees without a set schedule who may experience poor and erratic sleep.”

What is Sleep Awareness Week?

The NSF’s Sleep Awareness Week, now in its 26th year, is held every March to remind us that sleep is as essential to our health and well-being as air, food and water. During the week-long event, the NSF shares the results of its annual sleep study and tips for taking small steps each day to sleep better at night. A few of the NSF’s recommendations for better sleep health include the importance of spending time during the day in bright natural light, eating meals at a consistent time each day, and trying to get in 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. At night, you should avoid heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine, and stress.

At AOL, we are also advocates for sleep health, so we spoke with our panel of sleep experts and medical professionals to about their best sleep tips to help get as much REM sleep as possible. We also asked their thoughts on sleep tracking, sleep meditations, and breathwork, what bedding materials to look for, whether organic sheets are really necessary, and which sleep position — back, side or stomach — is best for various health needs. Keep reading for tips to help you start sleeping better, as soon as tonight.

4 tips for getting your best night’s sleep according to sleep experts and medical professionals:1. Start a bedtime routine

The first tip every expert shared with us was the importance of establishing a nightly bedtime routine that begins about an hour before bed. Dr. Kien Vuu, a Regenerative Medicine specialist and assistant health sciences professor at UCLA tells AOL, “The magical secret to a good night’s sleep often lies beyond mattresses and pillows. Creating a wind-down routine and a sleep-conducive environment can significantly impact. It’s about crafting your nightly ritual that cues your body it’s time to rest. Incorporating relaxing activities, like a warm bath or gentle stretching, can also enhance your sleep quality.”

Set the mood by dimming the lights an hour before bed, minimize loud noises and stressful situations, and work to release the stress of the day prior to getting into bed so you don’t find yourself trying to unwind when your head hits the pillow. Our experts also stress the importance of sleeping in a cool, dark room with an ambient temperature between 60-72 degrees Fahrenheit. “The temperature of our body naturally drops when we sleep so having a cooler environment will make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Thermoregulation, or how our body maintains its internal temperature, is a crucial factor to sleep quality,” explains Aslam. Also, aim to go tech-free at least an hour before bed — unless you use tech-based sleep aids designed to help you fall asleep (more on that below).

2. Find your perfect sleep position – Side, Back or Stomach

A 2017 sleep study found that, on average, 54% of adults sleep on their side, 38% sleep on their back and 7% sleep on their stomach. While generally speaking, our experts said sleeping on your back carries the most health benefits, there are no major health benefits to any sleep position that is strong enough to make a case for switching your sleep position. Certain health benefits for back and left-side sleepers are worth calling out. “Sleeping on your back keeps your spine aligned, head and neck supported, acid reflux a bay and wards off sleep-induced wrinkles since you are not smooching your face into the pillow,” explains Vuu. Our experts also noted the benefits left-side-sleepers specifically reap each night: Dr. Shelby Harris, a psychologist and board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine, says, “Side sleeping can be helpful for reducing acid reflux and heartburn and help those who snore — it may reduce the risk of sleep apnea — and for those who are pregnant as it improves blood flow to the fetus.” Ultimately when it comes to sleep position, the jury is still out on which is “best” so if you have a favorite position, stick with it — unless you are under a doctor’s care that says otherwise.

If you are considering switching up your sleep position, there are pillows specifically designed to promote sleeping on your back, side and stomach. I am personally a side sleeper and don’t want to know a life without my curved side-sleeper pillow.

Bedgear Flow Cuddle Curve Pillow: Side sleeper – With air vents and breathable mesh $180 at AmazonCult Classic Pillow – True Temp foam pillow from Sleep Number$109 at Sleep NumberBeckham Hotel Collection (2pack): Back sleeper – Down Alternative Gel Cooling Pillow for Back, Stomach or Side Sleepers$60 at AmazonParallel Low Profile Pillow: Stomach sleepers – ParaPur™ self-cleaning technology $150 at ParallelHeadleveler – The world’s first made-to-measure custom pillow$105 – $210 at Headleveler3. Buy breathable sheets

Dr. Ashley Magovern, a board-certified dermatologist, tells us that poor-quality sheets can cause irritation to the skin, such as itchiness or acne, because of synthetic dyes and subpar materials. Instead, she recommends spending a little extra on good-quality sheets such as organic cotton, silk or bamboo sheets because they are breathable, softer and especially good for those with sensitive skin, allergies. They also benefit those who are particularly sweaty sleepers. If you specifically have sensitive skin or are acne-prone, Magovern says the best material to sleep on is silk, “The fabric itself is lightweight and breathable, and airflow is incredibly important for those with acne-prone skin as sweating at night can cause oil buildup, leading to acne. Silk sheets also help reduce wrinkles, keep skin hydrated, and reduce frizz in your hair.”

Additionally, look for products with OEKO-TEX certification, the gold standard in the textile and leather industries, which ensures the materials are responsibly sourced and free from dangerous chemicals and materials.

Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set – A staple on “Oprah’s Favorite” list$270 (Twin) at Cozy EarthBedgear: Hot sleeper – Ver-Tex Instant Cooling, Ultra-Soft sheet$300 at AmazonLuxclub Cooling Microfiber Bed Sheets Wrinkle Free Breathable Sheet Sets$35 at WalmartSilky TENCEL™ Sheets: More absorbent than cotton, softer than silk $139 – $179 at West Elm4. Manage your mindset

Manage your mindset before bed so you can drift off to sleep worry-free. Try breathing exercises, meditation or light stretching each night as a regular bedtime ritual. “Creating a wind-down routine and a sleep-conducive environment can significantly impact your sleep quality. It’s about crafting your nightly ritual that cues your body it’s time to rest,” says Vuu.

If you consistently have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, you may benefit from one of the various tech-based sleep aids ranging from meditation apps to apps that offer sleep sounds or narrated sleep stories, such as Calm or Headspace. If you find yourself waking throughout the night, you may want to try a sleep tracker to see if patterns emerge. Sleep trackers are devices you wear at night that will give you a detailed report in the morning about how well you slept and if there were any times of disturbance to your sleep cycle or breathing. If you find yourself waking through the night, you may benefit from sleep tracking so you can see if patterns emerge thanks to in-depth reports on every aspect of your sleep health. “This data can help you identify lifestyle habits that improve or hinder your sleep, enabling you to make informed adjustments,” explains Vuu.

Calm App: Narrated sleep stories, guided meditation or soothing soundsFree to $14.99 a month at CalmMoonbird – World’s first handheld breath trainer: promotes sleep and less anxiety$199 at MoonbirdApple Watch Series 9: Track your sleep, fitness and heart health with this smartwatch$349 at AmazonOura Ring: A sleep lab, wrapped around your finger.Track your sleep and get daily in-depth reports on every aspect of your sleep health$299 – $349 at Oura

Sleep isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a total game-changer for your body and mind! It’s like hitting the reset button, allowing your whole system to recharge and revitalize. “Think of it as recharging your body’s battery; you wouldn’t want to start your day in low-power mode, right? Consistency is critical, so try to hit the hay and wake up simultaneously every day to keep your internal clock ticking smoothly,” says, Vuu.