The Sleep Environment

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exposure to bright light in the evening. It may delay sleep onset but as little as one to two hours of evening bright light exposure may help you sleep longer in the morning. Also, make sure to avoid light if you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Minimize light by using a low illumination night light.

 

Sleeping Surface

For the most part, we know people sleep better when horizontal and not cramped by space, and it is clear that the sleep surface plays a role in getting a good night's sleep. For example, tossing and turning on a lumpy 20-year-old mattress that doesn't provide support for your back or neck can impede you from getting the sleep you need and make you very sleepy (and stiff) the next day. Mattress experts say that too often consumers believe that ultra-firm mattresses are good for them, but research on patients with back pain found this was not true and a more supple, comforting mattress may lead to better sleep.

What to do:

Give yourself enough space to sleep. If you share a bed with a partner, make sure it is large enough to give both of you room to move around. Replace an old mattress with a new one, and choose a pillow and mattress that fits you best (soft, firm, thick, thin?) and will be comfortable throughout the whole night. Consumer Reports recently found that consumers who spent 15 minutes or more testing each mattress at the store were more likely to be happy with their purchase. When choosing pillows, find the shape and construction that supports your head and neck and that you find most comfortable. And change your pillows regularly. If you have allergies or asthma, you may also wish to purchase hypo-allergenic covers designed to protect from possible allergic triggers such as dust mites.

Other Factors

Bed partners with sleep disorders can negatively impact your sleep. Have you ever been kept awake by your partner's snoring? Or been jolted out of a sound sleep by your partner's restless movements?