A Sleep Expert's 6 Top Tips for Good Sleep
A few lucky ones have no trouble sleeping, even in cramped airplane seats or lumpy hotel beds. The rest of us are familiar with junk sleep. We doomscroll into the wee hours. We awaken at 3 a.m. anxious to solve the world’s problems. We hit snooze repeatedly to try to feel rested.
Getting good sleep is hard, even for sleep specialists. Dozens of factors play into the equation that calculates how well we sleep each night. Your perfect sleep equation is uniquely yours because sleep is far from a “one size fits all” situation.
Raul Davila has been a Mattress Firm Sleep Expert® for over 10 years. Even while awake (especially while awake) he’s focused on sleep—particularly helping others get better sleep. To get expert insight into what elements play into the equation of getting great sleep, Davila offers up his top sleep tips.
Get Picky About Your Mattress
When we clock out and wind down for sleep, our mattresses clock into work. The first job of a mattress is to allow you to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. A bed that’s too firm, too soft or sagging can lead to a frustrating night of tossing and turning. The second job of a mattress is to provide enough support to keep us asleep once we drift off.
Finding your ideal combination of comfort and support can take some consideration. “There's no such thing as one mattress that fits all,” Davila explains. “It’s important to find one that can fit your particular needs.” Your perfect mattress will keep the spine and neck in proper ergonomic alignment, regardless of whether you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper, or someone who sleeps in different positions.
It’s also smart to consider a few other sleeping preferences when picking your perfect mattress. If you tend to wake up feeling overheated, opt for a mattress that uses breathable materials, cooling layers and construction that lets hot air leave the bed. If you wake up easily from a partner tossing and turning or your pet jumping onto the bed, be sure to go with motion-isolating layers.
Davila has a few favorites he recommends. “Anything from the TempurPedic line is great because they really know what they’re doing when it comes to back support and pressure relief,” he says. Another plus for the TempurPedic line is their above-average lifespan, Davila adds.
He’s also a fan of Intellibeds, which use a gel matrix for pressure relief to provide a combination of support and cushion.
Davila has one other important recommendation when it comes to choosing a mattress. “It has to be physically comfortable, but also financially comfortable,” he says. His priority is not just to help people find the best mattress, but to find the best mattress within their budget.
Find the Right Support
Getting the best mattress is step one, but woven directly into that is step two: a solid foundation to put your mattress on.
A mattress base can include a traditional boxspring and frame or a modern platform base, but Davila’s number one recommendation for mattress support is an adjustable bed. With this base, you can adjust the head and foot area of the bed, and reach the zero-gravity position, which he mentions is the ultimate position of support and comfort.
“You can pick the right mattress and it's going to be comfortable, but adding that adjustment completes the entire system,” he explains. “It takes pressure off of your lower back and takes pressure off of your upper body so that you can breathe better. It's almost like you get the benefits of all the sleeping solutions without any of the negatives.”
His favorite adjustable base is the TempurPedic Ergo Smartbase. One touch of the wireless remote brings the base into the zero-gravity position or you can set custom positions. Relax with the massage feature, charge your devices with the USB ports, and use the under-bed lighting for trip-free bathroom runs in the middle of the night.
If you’re not interested in an adjustable base, Davila recommends ensuring the base or
foundation you go for won’t shift or make noise while you sleep, since those can both cause a poor night’s rest.
Make Your Bed with Quality Sheets
“A lot of people don’t think about bedding when it comes to the quality of sleep,” Davila says. But our bedding plays a big part in the sleep equation. If your mattress has layers that are designed to sleep cool, the sheets you put over the mattress could be hindering its ability to chill. Davila’s favorite sheets are made of TENCEL, Supima cotton or bamboo. He mentions all of these materials are great for breathability.
He also offers expertise when it comes to thread count. “It's very important to look at the quality of the thread. This ruffles some feathers, but the thread count can be misleading. Some of the best sheets have maybe 300 or 350 thread count.”
The most important factor when it comes to picking the perfect sheets is the material and the quality of construction.
Get Fitted for the Right Pillow
Some people use just one and some people sleep with half a dozen, but regardless of your perfect number, a pillow is one of the most important aspects of sleep. “Twenty five percent of our body rests on a pillow each night and people can have a drastic difference in the quality of sleep simply by just getting a better pillow,” Davila explains.
With the neck being especially prone to stiffness, a pillow’s fit with your body and your mattress can be the key to better sleep, including loft and fill.
The Mattress Firm Sleep Experts® work with all customers to find the right pillow for each person’s preferences. Your sleeping position determines what pillow loft is best, but how firm or soft your mattress is also plays a part. Just like how our bodies sink further into a softer mattress as opposed to a firmer bed, our pillow does the same.
Hot sleepers can also find relief with a pillow that includes cooling elements. If aromatherapy helps you sleep better, how about taking a tropical vacation each night on the coconut-infused Sleepy's Coconut Bliss Pillow or settling into relaxation with a lavender-infused pillow.
Protect Your Bed
However unappealing it is, we all sweat, shed dry skin and occasionally even spill our morning cup of coffee. A mattress is a porous environment and it can absorb liquids and other particles floating around in the air. For allergy sufferers, this can be especially problematic come heavy-pollen season.
However, there’s a simple solution: Give your mattress the longest possible lifespan by using a mattress protector. “These are incredibly thin and they’re vapor porous so they’re still breathable,” Davila mentions. A mattress protector does exactly what it sounds like. It keeps the bed hygienic and free from accumulating any liquids or particles which is not only better for sleep, but better for cleanliness and overall condition of the mattress.
Keep Your Sleep Space Quiet, Cool and Dark
Aside from what you’re sleeping on, the environment you’re sleeping in is a large factor for how well you sleep. Light, sound and temperature can either make or break your sleep. The ideal bedroom will be quiet, dark and cool, says Davila. Be sure to bump the thermostat down and sleep on materials that don’t trap in any unwanted heat. If your bedroom gets natural early morning light or you live in an urban environment with street lights, blackout curtains could be ideal.
If your bedroom has noise disruptions from a snoring partner, a noisy upstairs neighbor or street traffic, a white-noise machine can be a great solution. Many who use a white-noise machine bring it on travels to ensure excellent noise-free sleep settings wherever they are.
It’s not always easy to consistently get great sleep. Some of us are lucky if we can clock in eight hours of uninterrupted sleep even once per week. But making sure you’re set up for restful, restorative sleep is a great starting point. A supportive and comfortable mattress, a pillow that fits your sleeping style and a great base are some of the best ways to invest in a future of blissful slumber.