Getting a good night’s sleep matters. So you (really) need to put down your phone, experts say. Here’s what else you need to do.

By Kelsey Ogletree
August 24, 2020
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Struggling to sleep? We’re all in the same bed—ahem, boat.

Pre-pandemic, Americans’ sleep was worse than ever, says Sarah Moe, CEO of Sleep Health Specialists in Minneapolis. Some of us may be snoozing a little longer these days, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting the restorative rest—aka REM sleep—that our bodies need.

The main culprits: electronics, whose blue light disrupts our sleep patterns, and crippling anxiety over these disorienting times. (Health conditions such as obesity or pain impact sleep too.)

The surest fix, Moe says, is to power down at least an hour before bed. Get an alarm clock and keep phones out of the bedroom. Then, establish a calming nighttime routine. Read a book (with pages!), write in a journal, or take a bath.

Moe compares the process to landing a plane: Ease into bed; don’t drop from the sky and hope for the best. Test things for a week, then adjust. If better Z’s don’t come, try blackout shades or a mattress upgrade, or enroll in a sleep study.

“Once you start to get better sleep,” Moe says, “it’s worth it to keep going.”

Stats to Know

7 DAYS Most habits take a month to form, but new sleep habits require only a week, says Sarah Moe. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body craves anything that gets you more shut-eye and thus adapts faster.

60-67 DEGREES That’s the ideal room temperature range for sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Moe says to set the thermostat to 65 before you head to bed—or if you already keep the house cool, go lower.

7-8 HOURS A third of Americans clock fewer than six hours a night, but most people need at least seven to function well. To find your ideal number, go to bed when you’re tired and wake up naturally for a few days.