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The Ultimate Sleep Guide

Lots of factors can affect our sleep routines. While not all of these factors have a quick-fix solution, there are lots of simple adjustments to our daily and nightly habits that can have a big impact on how we sleep.

There’s nothing quite like waking up after a great night’s sleep, that feeling of being refreshed, having a calm energy, and giving your body and mind what it needed to repair and restore themselves.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis to maintain good health. And if we’re under strain, recovering from illness, or making up for a sleep deficit, then that recommended number increases.

When we get the sleep we need, we experience benefits like:

  • Improved mood
  • Boosted immunity
  • Balanced blood sugar
  • Improved heart health
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Better memory and focus
  • Decreased stress and anxiety

Good sleep is the silent foundation under almost every aspect of our wellness, so the Sleep Effect is real.

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The quality of sleep is as important as the number of hours we are slumbering. That’s because the body repeatedly cycles through two sleep stages throughout the night, each of which serve different functions and are important for overall health and well-being. The non-REM (rapid eye movement) stage is our deepest sleep when it’s difficult to wake up. This is when the body does much of its restoration work, including tissue repair and regeneration, bone building, and immunity strengthening. The lighter REM stage is more active. This is when we dream, process, and consolidate new information to be stored in memory, and it supports concentration and mood regulation.

That’s why falling and staying asleep are crucial — because we’re giving our body what it needs to move effectively through these cycles.

The National Sleep Foundation offers these guidelines as a simple way to assess the quality of your sleep:

  • You wake no more than once during the night.
  • You spend at least 85% of your bedtime asleep.
  • You fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed.
  • You’re awake no more than 20 minutes after initially falling asleep.

We know that 30-40% of adults regularly struggle to fall and stay asleep. That’s a lot of people lying awake at night and feeling the negative side effects of sleep deprivation during the day.

What can you do if you’re struggling to get regular high-quality rest at night? Lots of factors can affect our sleep routines: the stress of daily work and life, our physical environments, racing or anxious thoughts, certain genetic or medical conditions.

And while not all of these factors have a quick-fix solution, there are lots of simple adjustments to our daily and nightly habits that can have a big impact on how we sleep.

To help you, we’ve created this Ultimate Sleep guide with tips and products to support your daily sleep routine. Plus, for our Mindfulness.com community only, our friends at Swanwick and Better Sleep will offer an exclusive 15% off on selected sleep items (not applicable with other offers, discounts, or sale prices). Simply use coupon code: mindfulness at checkout.

Prepare body & mind for sleep

Setting a nighttime routine is essential for quality sleep. Even something as simple as an evening cup of herbal tea can signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down for rest.

Control the light

Light, especially short-wave blue light (like the kind emitted by tablets and smartphones), can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycles. To minimize light disturbance, keep your bed area device-free. If possible, avoid any bright light leading up to bedtime. If outside light is an issue, try light-blocking curtains or a sleep mask for a more restful sleep.

Make it quiet

Noise is a major sleep interrupter. For nearby disruptions like a snoring partner, earplugs can help. To block out atmospheric noise, try a white noise machine or a fan.

Introduce scent

Relaxing aromas, including lavender, rose, and chamomile, can help the body and mind settle, and contribute to better sleep. Natural scents in your bedroom — in the form of dried herb satchels, nonsynthetic aromatherapy oils, or a diffuser — can help create a restful environment.

Invest in your bed

Sheets, blankets, and pillows can have a huge effect on air circulation, temperature regulation, and sleep posture. Make an investment in bedding that makes you feel cozy, safe, and comforted.

Technology for better sleep

While it’s best to keep blue-light emitting devices out of your bedroom, there are ways in which tech can offer modern solutions to an ancient problem. Learning about your sleep patterns can help you recognize disruptions and create a better sleep environment.


When kids don’t sleep well, the whole household suffers. For comfort and cozy rest, these tools can help your kids nod off (and stay asleep) so everyone can rest easy.

Sleep Better Tonight

Explore our articles, expert tips, and guided meditations to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.

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