In a perfect world, we would all wake up every day fully rested and ready to tackle whatever life throws at us. In reality, though, many of us wake up tired and groggy and generally unrested. (Womp womp.) The issue might be how late we’re going to sleep, which is why we checked in with Dr. Peter Polos, MD, sleep medicine specialist and sleep expert for Sleep Number, for his tips on how to hit the hay earlier. Here’s what he told us.
How to Go to Sleep Earlier (Even Though Netflix Is Calling Your Name)
1. Fall Asleep at the Same Time Every Day (Even on Weekends)
We know, we know: It’s super tempting to stay up later on Friday and Saturday nights (no work in the morning, woo!). But Dr. Polos warns that establishing a regular sleep routine with set fall asleep times—including Friday and Saturday nights—is crucial. “Doing this can help keep your circadian rhythm, or your body’s internal clock, on track,” he notes. “Straying from a regular routine, for whatever reason, can disrupt your circadian rhythm, including your ability to fall asleep.”
2. Choose the Proper Sleep Accessories
“Evaluate your mattress, pillows and bedding to ensure they are right for your unique sleeping position (side, back or stomach) and help to ease your aches and pains,” says Dr. Polos. Think about it: If you have a bed set-up you absolutely adore, you’re way more likely to hit the sack earlier just to have more time in it. When it comes time to buy a new mattress, do the research to find the best makes and models for your particular sleep needs and don’t be afraid to splurge a little—it’s really worth it for a good night’s sleep.
3. Make Sure Your Room Is the Right Temperature
The sweet spot for temperature, Dr. Polos tells us, is between 67 and 69 degree Fahrenheit. Seems simple enough, but in reality, a Sleep Number study found that 83 percent of couples polled actually sleep too hot or too cold. But why can a too hot or too cold room be detrimental? Dr. Polos explains that an elevated room temperature can actually make it more challenging to fall asleep because it raises your core body temperature, while cold room, though not as big of an issue, can still be disruptive.
4. Put Your Phone Away Earlier
Do we love to scroll aimlessly through Instagram and TikTok minutes before trying to fall asleep? We sure do, but that doesn’t mean it’s doing us any favors. Dr. Polos recommends shutting down electronics 60 minutes before bed to avoid blue light exposure from computers, tablets, cell phones and TVs. “Using these kinds of devices close to bedtime can inhibit melatonin release and delay sleep onset. The release of melatonin is how your body knows it’s bedtime,” he says.
5. Keep an Eye on Your Alcohol Intake
We know that we shouldn’t make a new pot of coffee in the hours leading up to bedtime, but a couple glasses of wine or a few cocktails are harmless, right? Sadly, no. Dr. Polos explains that because alcohol is a depressant, it can have a significant impact on sleep. “Because of its sedating effect, it can make you feel sleepy and actually fall asleep, however, there is a price to pay,” he tells us. “Alcohol alters sleep stages and delays the REM cycle of sleep, pushing it to later in the night. Often this results in a concept called REM rebound, which can lead to the all-too-common awakening in the middle of the night. Without quality sleep you won’t feel great the next day.” We’re not saying you should quit drinking altogether, but just be aware of the effects that nightcap is having on how rested you feel the next morning.