If you’re someone who can’t ever seem to get a good night’s sleep, and even a later start time to your day won’t help, you’re not alone. Sometimes, those bags under your eyes have less to do with the length of sleep you’re getting and more with the actual quality of your sleep.
Over on a recent Reddit thread, users shared how they’ve overcome their sleep quality issues. Below you’ll find several recommendations that might benefit your sleep — that is, if you’re willing to ditch the smartphone.
Remove all sources of light
For u/leventnoir, the key to a better night’s rest involves as little light as possible; this means installing blackout curtains and even going so far as to remove all electronics from a bedroom, including alarm clocks and led indicators. (Just remember to set an alarm on your phone, if you go this route.)
If you aren’t able to do this, u/gnomon75 suggests a comfortable eye mask as an alternative. “It should have a curve for your nose and extra room for your eyes so that it’s better at completely blocking out light and not leaving gaps like a flat eye mask would.” If you’re sensitive to noise, it might be worth considering earplugs or even a white noise machine — just be sure you’ll hear your alarm.
Consistency is key
Echoed again and again in the comments is the recommendation to keep your sleeping schedule as consistent as possible if you want to get some quality shut-eye. “Same time to bed, same time out of bed,” u/alakazam writes. “Every day, even weekends. Right now, I’m getting 7.5 hours of sleep each night, and I feel consistently well-rested and awake in the mornings, which was a pretty big contrast to my grad school days when sleep was inconsistent, even if I slept more on some days.”
If your days are inconsistent, perhaps it’s time to build a schedule so you can sleep at the same hour without fail.
Cut out caffeine
Unsurprisingly, caffeine, as a stimulant, doesn’t bode well for your ability to sleep. (A small study from 2013 found that caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime can still disrupt sleep.) According to u/duostesticuloshabet, it helps to time your caffeine intake appropriately. “... I try my best not have any past noon,” they said.
“I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my ability to fall asleep and sleep deeply since doing this. Being someone who often works out twice a day between weight training, calisthenics, and running/swimming, it’s easy to forget how much that afternoon pre-workout or energy drink can fuck up your sleep later in the evening.”
Look into a better mattress
If you aren’t sleeping well, your mattress might be the issue–at least it was in u/dependent_rice’s experience. “I went from sleeping on a cheap IKEA mattress in an iron frame to a boxspring with two mattresses on top and I sleep great every night,” they said. “I fall asleep faster and I have stopped tossing and turning as much.”
If the mattress causes you any discomfort anywhere on your body, move onto the next. Otherwise, if you’ve slept at hotels or friends’ places with a mattress you’ve liked, give them a ring and find out the model. You can probably find a similar one at your local retailer (or the same one).
Ditch the electronics
You’ve heard it before, but staring at your smartphone might only worsen poor sleeping habits. “Turning my phone off half an hour before my intended bedtime really helps me stick to when I want to go to bed,” u/midnight_madness8 writes. “I get so distracted otherwise and the process can take twice as long as it should.”
Here’s our guide to how to kick yourself off your devices at bedtime. And if you feel tempted to check your Twitter timeline before bed, u/busyminimum recommends leaving it in another room. (And if you’re reading this from bed now, set it down and back away.)
Know when to see a doctor
If you’ve tried it all — or get a full eight hours without feeling any more well-rested — then maybe it’s time to see a specialist about the problem, u/reditanian recommends.
If you have any concerns, it’s always best to voice them with a doctor, especially if you’re considering taking supplements to solve the issue. As we’ve written before, melatonin might also help your sleep issues in the short-term, but it’s best to ask a doctor if you’re looking for a long-term answer to your sleep quality problem.
This article has been updated since its original publication.