In an independent national consumer survey among mattress shoppers commissioned by the CertiPUR-US® program, we asked, “On nights when you have trouble sleeping, what are the biggest factors?” Quite a few of the things people told us that interfere with their sleep are relatively easy to fix. So, here’s the top ten list and beyond – along with some solutions you can put into play tonight to improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
The top 10 factors that interfere with sleep:
- Too hot or too cold
- Uncomfortable mattress
- Aches and pains
- General life stress worries
- Watching TV
- Snoring partner
- Too much light in room
- Tossing and turning partner
- Checking phone/electronics while in bed
- Noise from sources you can’t control, such as street noise, neighbors, heating system, etc.
But beyond the Top 10 list, there are some interesting insights if you group the answers into categories, as well as several action steps you can take to improve sleep:
- Find the right temperature. Invest in an electric blanket or fan with a remote control, so you can easily turn it on or off from bed during the night. If your temperature needs differ from your partner, get a dual-control electric or share sheets and use twin-sized blankets.
- Address the stress. Stress is a big factor. When you combine general life stress (cited by nearly 30%), money/financial stress (about 10%) , job stress (15%) and relationship stress (6%), you get about 60% of the population who say stress adversely affects their sleep. What can you do to help? Get outside more, exercise more, and laugh more.
- Fix your sleep environment. Lots of sleep disruptors can be addressed with some creativity. If you’re too hot or too cold (55% of respondents), it pays to invest in a fan, AC unit, or an electric blanket. If your body temperature changes throughout the night, consider keeping an alternate pair of pajamas under your pillow for mid-night changing! Noise from sources you can’t control, like snoring partners, neighbors and street noise (cited by 20%), might be solved with white noise machines and earplugs. Room-darkening window coverings can make a big difference for those who are light sensitive. Note that partners who snore heavily should be encouraged to have a physician rule out sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder that can be life-threatening.
- Shut off the screens. One of the most common things mentioned are those we can control (and I sure am guilty of these): watching TV (25%) and checking your phone and electronic devices while in bed (20%).
- Watch what you consume. Nearly 20% of the survey respondents said having to go to the bathroom interfered with sleep, along with digestive issues such as heartburn and indulging in caffeine too close to bedtime. Sleep experts often suggest limiting what you drink or eat at bedtime to deal with these issues.
- Address those aches and pains. Call your doctor – and be sure to ask if any pain medications prescribed could adversely affect your sleep. For self-help, try mindfulness activities, like meditation, yoga, and tai chi, which have been proven to help distract our brains from physical discomfort.
- Invest in a new mattress. The 40% of respondents who cited “uncomfortable mattress” and the equal number who complained of “aches and pains” (possibly from a bad mattress?) may discover that a new mattress can be life-changing. In fact, 99% of those surveyed acknowledged that mattress quality is important to good sleep – and I was excited to know that, unaided, more than 40% of the respondents had heard about the CertiPUR-US® foam certification, and after learning more about the program, 90% of the survey respondents felt it was important to sleep on a mattress containing certified foam.
Two other sleep interrupters that were mentioned in the survey were children (10%) and pets (10%). To help children sleep better, I recommend the wonderful book Happy Sleeper, by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright. For pets – one solution is giving your pets their own bed and keeping them out of yours, but that’s a deeply personal choice – I get that!
Above all, don’t lose sleep over all the things that can sabotage it. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Only 3% of those surveyed said sleeping is not a problem for them.
Note: Percentages add up to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted.