wikiHow to Get a Comfortable Night's Sleep

Three Parts:Creating the Right Environment for SleepChoosing a Sleep PositionSetting Good Sleep Habits

Are you having trouble sleeping through the night? Do you wake up feeling tired or stiff? Achieving a good night’s sleep is important for your overall health, and helps you face the next day’s tasks with a well-rested body and mind. By creating the right environment, choosing the right position, and setting good habits to prepare for sleep, you can achieve the kind of rest you want and need.

Part 1
Creating the Right Environment for Sleep

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    Choose the right mattress. Some people sleep better on firmer mattresses, while others prefer softer ones. You can choose whatever type feels best to you.[1] Whatever material or level of firmness you choose, your mattress should feel supportive but comfortable so that you wake up feeling rested.
    • If you feel stiff or have aches upon waking, it can be a sign that a different mattress would help you sleep better.
    • Look for a mattress that provides adequate support for your back and neck in particular.[2]
    • Cover your mattress with whatever sheets and bedding you find comfortable. Change them in different seasons so that you stay warm or cool as needed.
    • Most mattresses last about eight years, so think about replacing yours if it is old and uncomfortable.
    • If your mattress is uncomfortable and you cannot replace it, you can make things better by using pillows properly.
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    Choose the right pillow. Select a pillow that feels comfortable to you, no matter whether it is soft or firm.[3] You can also use several pillows if you like, but make sure that they do not push your head up at a sharp angle. Whatever position you sleep in, your pillow(s) should keep your head held supported between your shoulders—in the same position it would be in if you were standing up.[4]
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    Keep your bedding clean.[5] You will sleep more comfortably knowing your bed is clean. Make sure to wash your bedding as frequently as you are able to, and any time it becomes especially dirty.
    • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for washing your sheets.
    • If you have a mattress cover, wash it in hot water.
    • You can dust your mattress with baking soda, then vacuum it up a day later. This will draw out moisture.
    • Pillows can be washed or put in your dryer at a high temperature to clean them and kill dust mites.
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    Make your bed.[6] Put clean sheets, blankets, and pillows on your bed, and make sure they are neatly arranged. Also, make sure your bedroom itself is as clean and orderly as possible. Some evidence shows that a clean and orderly bed and bedroom can help you sleep more comfortably, perhaps because of a psychological effect.[7]
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    Set the proper temperature.[8] Your body’s temperature rises and falls throughout the day, becoming lower when you are drowsy. A cool room (around 65 degrees Fahrenheit) is best for getting comfortable, sound sleep because it conforms to your body’s natural temperature fluctuations.[9][10][11]
    • Use a thermostat, fan, or window to help cool the air in your room if it is too hot/cool for comfortable sleep.
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    Dress appropriately. Choose comfortable clothes to sleep in. Loose-fitting clothes that are cool in warm seasons and warm in cool seasons will feel best. If you are too warm, remove clothing or bedding. If you are too cold, add a layer of clothing or bedding.
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    Keep noise and distractions to a minimum. Most people sleep best when their environment is quiet and free from distractions.
    • Keep televisions, radios, and other devices turned off or at a low volume.
    • Keep windows closed if outside noise such as traffic disturbs you.
    • Some people find it helpful to use aids to lessen outside distractions, like ear plugs or the white noise of a small fan.

Part 2
Choosing a Sleep Position

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    Sleep on your side. If you are having trouble sleeping comfortably, you might benefit from trying a different position. Sleep positions normally fall into one of three categories: back, side or stomach.[12][13] Sleeping on your side is most recommended for comfort and to reduce the chances of interrupting your sleep.
    • When sleeping on your side, bend your knees slightly toward your chest (similar to the “fetal position”).
    • If you have back trouble, consider placing a pillow between your knees. This alleviates pressure on your hips and lower back, making sleep more comfortable.
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    Sleep on your back if it makes you more comfortable. However, sleeping on your back may increase your chances of lower back pain. Doing so may also cause cases of apnea, which can interrupt your sleep.[14][15]
    • If you do choose to sleep on your back, try placing a rolled up towel or pillow under your knees to encourage the natural curve of your spine.
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    Sleep on your stomach cautiously. Some feel that sleeping on the stomach is most comfortable. However, doing so can cause pain in the lower back and neck. Sleeping on your stomach may also cause you to toss and turn in discomfort.[16][17]
    • If you sleep on your stomach, use a soft pillow or none at all to reduce the risk of causing neck pain.
    • If you have underlying sleep problems, it is generally recommended that you do not sleep on your stomach.

Part 3
Setting Good Sleep Habits

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    Avoid stimulants and depressants. If you trying to go to sleep soundly, avoid coffee and other caffeinated products, nicotine, and other stimulants. Their effects can last for hours, making it hard to go to sleep comfortably.[18][19] And while depressants like alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, they can actually disturb your sleep.[20]
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    Avoid large meals before bedtime. The food and drink you consume, and when you have it, can impact your sleep.[21] Large meals shortly before bedtime can cause indigestion.[22] Your last meal should be no less than 2 or 3 hours before your bedtime.[23]
    • Small, healthy snacks make the best choices if you need something before sleep.[24]
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    Use light to your advantage. Your body naturally responds to lighting conditions and will adjust sleep accordingly. This means that getting plenty of light in the morning and during the day, then keeping the lights dim at night will help you sleep soundly.[25][26]
    • Wearing sunglasses later in the day dims light, which can help you become sleepy.[27]
    • Avoid making television, computers, tablets, smartphones and similar devices part of your pre-sleep routine, as the light from electronic screens disrupts the body’s inclination to sleep.[28] Moreover, some research suggests that the distractions of screen-time interaction have a similar effect.[29]
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    Avoid exercising too close to bedtime. Getting regular physical activity is good for your health and may help you sleep at night. Exercise has a stimulating effect, however, so if you exercise too close to your bedtime, you may have trouble falling asleep or sleeping soundly.[30][31][32] Exercise no later than two or three hours before your bedtime. However, light stretching can be helpful and relaxing right before you go to sleep.
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    Limit naps. Naps can help if you are tired, but you should avoid long naps (longer than a half-hour), and naps near your bedtime. Otherwise, you may have trouble sleeping comfortably.[33]
    • For best results, if you are trying to sleep comfortably at night, avoid naps after 3 p.m.[34]
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    Stick to a sleep schedule. If you get yourself used to falling asleep and waking up on a regular schedule, you will sleep better overall.[35] Be especially aware of when you're waking up and going to sleep during weekends and holidays. Try to stay within 1-2 hours of your normal bedtime. Fixing your sleep schedule can take some time and persistence, but you will sleep more comfortably once you do.
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    Establish a sleep routine. Get your body and mind ready for sleep by doing the same things each night before you go to sleep.[36] Do whatever relaxes you: read a book, take a bath or shower, listen to relaxing music, etc.
    • Your pre-sleep routine could incorporate a bath, reading a book, relaxing music, and other things that help you unwind.[37]
    • Many people find that warm drinks or tea can help them become comfortable and sleepy (just stay away from caffeinated beverages). Chamomile tea is a good choice because it has a calming effect.[38]
    • Meditation and/or breathing exercises are also recognized as calming techniques.[39] A simple breathing exercise is to inhale for a count of 3 or 4, then exhale for a count of six or eight.[40] A few repetitions of this can be very helpful when trying to calm down and prepare for a good night's sleep.
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    Get up for a while if you don’t fall asleep. If you don’t fall asleep after fifteen minutes, do something else. If you are trying to fall asleep and still haven’t after a quarter of an hour, get up and do something that relaxes you until you feel tired again.[41][42] Tossing and turning while you’re not tired or have something on your mind will not get you to sleep.
    • Many busy people find they have a "to do" list that keeps them from falling asleep. To combat this, keep a notepad next to your bed and jot your thoughts or ideas down, so you no longer worry about them and can rest.
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    Seek help if you can’t sleep comfortably. If you have tried to make your sleep more comfortable and can’t, feel constantly fatigued, or have other concerns about your sleep, seek expert medical advice.[43] If you have any of the following symptoms, you should also seek help:
    • Excessive or loud snoring
    • Feeling tired after 8 hours of sleep
    • Symptoms that occur only at night, such as a cough, sore throat, or heart burn

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