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Bed Basics
Bed Basics

Our Sleep Experts' 7 Top Tips for Good Sleep

An illustration of two purple pillows in the clouds. Text reads: Sleep Week Expert Sleep Tips
Leo Medrano

Nobody gets great sleep every night. But if you want the best sleep you can get, Sleep Experts® at Mattress Firm are here to help. With 200+ hours of training, they know better than most how to set yourself up for those eight hours of quality zzz’s to help you feel your best.

So, we asked them for their top tips and got seven key steps to quality sleep. Implement one a day, and you’ll be sleeping better before the week is through!

Get Picky About Your Mattress

When we clock out and wind down for sleep, our mattresses clock into work. A bed that’s too firm, too soft or sagging can lead to a frustrating night of tossing and turning.

Finding your ideal combination of comfort and support can take some consideration. “There's no such thing as one mattress that fits all,” Sleep Expert Raul 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.

While there are many tools to figure out your perfect combination online, the truth is stopping by in person is the best way to make sure it’s really your best fit. “In this day and age, a lot of folks buy online, but coming into a store to try a mattress is the best thing to do,” Sleep Expert KD Houseman shares. Shopping in-store gives you the added benefit of trying out any and all the different combinations available, from comfort level to pillow loft.

Sleep Expert Jay Velasco finds in-store shopping important as it’s a chance to give people all the tools available to help them find the perfect fit. “I like being able to show a person why we are Sleep Experts and what we have to offer them. From Mattress Matcher to simply giving them our professional opinion based on our experience or reaction to a particular mattress.”

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 box spring 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,” Davila explains. “It takes pressure off your lower back and takes pressure off 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.”

Don’t Underestimate the Pillow

“The one thing I can't sleep without (I even travel with it) is my cooling memory foam pillow,” says Sleep Expert Sandy Smith. “I can't tell you how many times my pillow has saved my sleep when traveling. Even if the mattress in the Airbnb or hotel is not the greatest, having that supportive memory foam under my neck and shoulders guarantees I get some zzz's!” Indeed, a pillow takes up 25% of your sleep surface and ensures that your all-important head and neck are comfortable. A Mattress Firm pillow fitting can help ensure your head and neck are aligned and help you get up to eight additional hours of sleep every month.

Turn Off the Screens an Hour Before Bed

“In a world where doomscrolling has become the norm, there have been multiple studies done about how blue light before turning in for the night will lower your melatonin production. Seeing that melatonin is the sleep hormone, using blue light before bed results in signaling your brain to stay up versus relax into sleep,” explains Houseman.
During the hour-plus of no screens before bed, there are several things you can do to increase your sleep drive. Every person will be different, but finding your unique sleep hygiene needs routine will allow for more quality sleep-filled nights.” Houseman shares that by knowing her chronotype and sleep hygiene needs, she starts her wind-down routine at 9:30 p.m. with a shower and book before officially getting into bed at 11 p.m. for an 8:30 a.m. wake-up.

Implement a Bedtime Routine for Yourself

Once you’ve turned off your screens, you can commence a calming bedtime routine. “Wind down 30 minutes to an hour before bed,” advises Jay Velasco. “Be it with sound, silence or controlled breathing,” Velasco sees a wind-down routine as key to preparing for quality sleep. “Winding down will help you fall asleep faster by calming your mind and body.”

For Sleep Expert Victoria Graves, it helps to borrow from her kids’ routine. “As a parent, it's really hard to find time for yourself, let alone most other things in life. I used to have a structured bedtime routine for my kiddo but a scattered one for myself. My best piece of advice goes out to all you tired parents out there just trying to do your best and do it all! With so many things to take care of, don't forget to take care of yourself, too,” says Graves.

“The nice thing about bedtime routine is you can incorporate your kid's routine into yours,” Graves explains. “Spend that precious time relaxing together with a storybook or some soft sleep sounds after bath and jammies.” If you’ve wound down alongside your little one, resist the urge to tackle your to-do list once their lights are out. “Whatever it looks like for you, take that time to slow down and unwind yourself at the end of the day,” she urges. “Those dishes, laundry, etc. can wait until tomorrow, but your sleep cannot. And a consistent routine will help keep you and your family well rested and refreshed.”

For those who prefer their own routine, Graves suggests soft lighting, a calming candle, and a relaxing shower or bath, joking that it “can help relax the body and wash away the day's stress…or the fruit loop that’s been stuck in your hair since 9 a.m.”

Then, Commit to Your Wake-up Time

“Avoid snoozing in the morning,” recommends Velasco. “Snoozing disrupts the REM sleep cycle, causing you to feel more disoriented and tired after waking up.” In addition to rousing you at a time when you’re not ready, snoozing doesn’t give you a chance at additional quality rest. Instead, train yourself to wake up at the same time each morning and allow yourself to wake up with a gentle light-based alarm or no alarm at all.

Then, once you’re awake, get some sunlight. For Graves, one of the best ways to get great sleep at night starts each morning by getting natural light. “Our circadian rhythm is your internal time clock that tells you when it's time to sleep or wake. It depends heavily on light and darkness. Daylight or artificial light triggers the body to wake, whereas darkness triggers the body to think it is time to sleep,” says Graves. As a resident of the Northeast, where winter is dark and cold, Graves is familiar with the fatigue that can set in without access to sunlight. "My best sleep tip for the winter months and early spring is to make sure you get plenty of natural light during the day. Even on cold days, it's important your body gets that recharge from the sun. Not getting enough sunlight can lead to an off-balance circadian rhythm, which causes issues sleeping at night.”

Know Yourself, Especially Your Chronotype

Good sleep is about working with your body. After all, your perfect bedtime is more than just the time after your favorite show ends. “Chronotype is your natural tendency for when you want to sleep and wake,” explains Houseman. "It represents when you organically feel the most energetic and/or focused throughout a 24-hour period.” Houseman explains that using your chronotype can help you make the most of your day. “By knowing what your body's natural circadian rhythm is, you are able to work with your sleep needs versus fighting them.” Not only that, you can also get great sleep when your body wants it so that you wake up each day feeling energized.

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