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How to get great sleep

How to Get Great Sleep

“How to get great sleep”, I have often wondered how many people a day are asking the question.  Even more important why are the asking the question.  If you are in that group asking the question then chances are you are not getting enough sleep or not getting enough quality sleep.  Let’s do some root cause analysis of why we don’t get great sleep.

Let’s start first with defining the quality of sleep you are getting.  Most people don’t even track their sleep.  If you are not tracking or measuring something in the world of continuous improvement then you cannot improve as you do not have a baseline in which to compare to see if there is improvement.

We are going to walk you through a scientific approach to answering the question “how to get great sleep”.

How to get Great Sleep: Tracking Sleep is the start

The first thing we need to do is to measure and score the amount and the quality of sleep we are getting and keep a record.

Twenty years ago that would have meant an overnight stay at a sleep center with wires hooked to you with some watching over you and taking notes.

 But thanks to technology we have now there are a few options.

First thing you need to do is to invest in a sleep tracking device.  We do have an article that will guide in selecting the right device.

 Here is a short summary you have these choices, smart pillow, smart sensor pad, or fitness tracking watch

Here is a quick low down, room darkening shades are more expensive and you have to install them, the masks are cheaper but some people don’t like wear them.  It’s a personal choice so you will have to decide.

 

Please click on those key words to see those devices on Amazon.

If you don’t mind wearing a watch to bed then I highly recommend the Fitbit Versa 2 watch as it offers other functions making it money well spent, after that I would recommend the sensor pad.

After getting the new sleep tracking device use it for a couple of weeks before you start making any changes to your sleeping routines so you have an established baseline to compare to later.

Step 2: Look at the Sleep Data to help answer question “how to get better sleep”.

Okay you have collected the sleep data let’s look at it to understand what we are seeing.  Most good sleep trackers will show you how much time you spent in the three stages of sleep (Rem, Light, & Deep) they should also show how long you were awake.

Believe me this is all necessary to answer the question “how to get great sleep”.

I am a big fan of the Fitbit health trackers and they do a great job of tracing sleep, they go the extra steps, they show you the three stages of sleep, time awake, and also give you a total sleep score every morning based on the above data.

The Fitbit also give you an estimated oxygen variation level in graph form throughout your sleep (see graphs below)

On the Fitbit all the data mentioned above is tracked nightly and saved so you have a historical record that you can review to see improvements over time.

It’s simple to operate just enter your desired bedtime and how many hours of sleep you want to set your goal at and let it do the work for you.

We will talk more about this in the next section:

Analyzing the data:

Relax you don’t have to be a scientist to understand the data.  The Fitbit tracker along with most others will point out how much time you spent awake and in each sleep cycle.

Let’s start at the beginning and walk through the possible causes why you are not getting great sleep.

Look at the data and see what time you lay down and how long did it take you to drift off to sleep.  If this took more than 10 minutes then let’s look at your pre-bedtime routine. 

If you are falling right to sleep you won’t need to read the pre-bedtime routine section – but I would recommend reading for improvement.

Pre-Bedtime routine:

Using the Fitbit for example will give you’re a reminder if you like about 30 minutes before your bedtime that you set as a goal.

Why do you need this?  The first step to great sleep is to have an established bedtime routine that preps you for that great night sleep.

A good sleep ritual is something that works for you and is an individual choice.  However here are some tips to help.

  • No screen time 30 minutes prior to bedtime
  • Take a warm bath or shower
  • Read a book for 30 minutes
  • Listen to some relaxing music – can be while in bath
  • Mediation or reflection on positive things
  • Talking with your partner
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evenings
  • Exercise during the day is helpful
Next step on analyzing data on “how to get great sleep”

 

You either no problem with falling asleep quickly or you resolved it with setting yourself up with a pre-bedtime routine as described above.

Looking at the data you are frequently waking up then we need to look at some possible causes.  First, let’s not overlook any medical issues. 

If you believe that you may have sleep apnea, snoring, or other health issues talk with your doctors for possible testing and diagnosis with possible treatments.

We are here to discuss non-medical issues that may be causing you to wake up frequently during your sleep cycles. 

This will help answer your question “how to get great sleep”.   If you are having trouble staying sleep and it’s not a medical issue then let’s look at your environment.

Environment Issues:

Are you sensitive to light or sounds that might be waking you up?  If so those are easy fixes, let’s start with light.

You have two choices here, room darkening shades or wearing an eye mask.  There are pros and cons to both and I can direct you to an article on eye mask here.

Here is a quick low down, room darkening shades are more expensive and you have to install them, the masks are cheaper but some people don’t like wear them.  It’s a personal choice so you will have to decide.

Next, is sound waking you up at night or early in morning?  

This is easy to solve as well, first there are ear plugs, and second choice is a noise machine.

Again, both have pros and cons and I will summarize.  Ear plugs are the cheapest way out but most people don’t like wearing them.

I prefer the pink noise machines as they provide a constant sound that you get use to over a few night and they are very affective.  Try one out from one of the links here as they offer free returns and its risk free.

Temperature:

Believe it not room temperature could be causing you big problems when you are trying to sleep.

I wasn’t aware of this for the longest time when I was in my early forties and having trouble sleeping.  We kept the house around 70 degrees F. during the summer nights.

I read an article on the importance of room temperature and how your body lowers its core temperature when you sleep.

As stated in our 10 tips for a better night’s sleep make sure the bedroom is cool as your body temperature naturally decreases to initiate sleep.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the perfect room temperature for sleep is somewhere between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.[1]Michelle Drerup, P. (2018, Novemeber 8). What Is the Ideal Sleeping Temperature for My Bedroom? Retrieved March 3, 2021, from Cleveland Clinic: … Continue reading

I started setting my thermostat at 64 degrees Fahrenheit and now I sleep so well and rested.  It was such an easy fix and I have a programmable thermostat that turns down to that temp an hour before I go to bed.

Quality Bedding (pillow, blankets, mattress):

I am not going to beat this one into the ground I am not here to sell you anything just inform you so you can make the best decisions around your sleep.

We spend one-third of our lives sleeping and sleep is fundamental physiological process that is widely believed to be essential for life.[2]Harding, E. C., Franks, N. P., & Wisden, W. (2019, April 24). The Temperature Dependence of Sleep. Retrieved March 12, 2021, from Fontiers in Neuroscience: … Continue reading

Your health is your greatest asset, so invest in a quality mattress, bedding and pillow.

If you don’t have quality bedding please follow one of these links to get information on the best products to answer the question “how to get great sleep”.

Best Hotel Pillow – These are high quality pillows that provide that great night sleep you are looking for at affordable prices.

Weighted Blankets – If you are having stress issues then read this article on weighted blankets?

Best Mattress – See our top 5 choices for the best mattresses

Sleep Positions & the Role of the Pillow: 

We could spend the next ten pages talking about the science behind sleep positions and debate for hours which position offers the greatest health benefits.

But really this is an individual choice made by many factors, but mostly it’s the position that is most comfortable to the sleeper.

The main role of a pillow during sleep is to support the cervical spine in a neutral position.[3]Jeon, M. Y., Jeong, H., Lee, S., Choi, W., Park, J. H., Tak, S. J., et al. (2014, July 9). Improving the Quality of Sleep with an Optimal Pillow: A Randomized, Comparative Study. Retrieved March 8, … Continue reading

For young, healthy people, sleep position is less important, Rachel Salas, M.D. says. “But as you get older and have more medical issues, sleep position can become positive or negative.”[4]Rachel Salas, M. (2021). Choosing the Best Sleep Position. Retrieved March 4, 2021, from Hopkins Medicine: … Continue reading

Final thoughts on “how to get great sleep”

Getting quality sleep is tied closely to your overall health and wellbeing.  It has been proven over the last couple of decades the importance of sleep to maintain and improving our health.

We spend one third of our lives sleeping and our health is our greatest asset.  It’s time you started investing in your health.

Don’t wait, buy that sleep tracker, and start finding the answers to the question “how to get great sleep” today.

References

References
1Michelle Drerup, P. (2018, Novemeber 8). What Is the Ideal Sleeping Temperature for My Bedroom? Retrieved March 3, 2021, from Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-the-ideal-sleeping-temperature-for-my-bedroom/
2 Harding, E. C., Franks, N. P., & Wisden, W. (2019, April 24). The Temperature Dependence of Sleep. Retrieved March 12, 2021, from Fontiers in Neuroscience: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491889/
3 Jeon, M. Y., Jeong, H., Lee, S., Choi, W., Park, J. H., Tak, S. J., et al. (2014, July 9). Improving the Quality of Sleep with an Optimal Pillow: A Randomized, Comparative Study. Retrieved March 8, 2021, from The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/tjem/233/3/233_183/_html/-char/en
4 Rachel Salas, M. (2021). Choosing the Best Sleep Position. Retrieved March 4, 2021, from Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/choosing-the-best-sleep-position