Not getting enough sleep? Changing your sleeping habits could help

Anna Hecht
Updated 23th January 2018

Story highlights

  • Following the right sleeping routine may have an effect on your health.
  • Four routines that will help you get better sleep daily.

A lot can be said for following a committed diet and exercise routine, but we can't forget about one of the most important necessities of life: sleep.

According to experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a large portion—approximately 35% — of American adults do not get the recommended seven to nine hours. That means over a third of Americans (ages 18-60) are at higher risk for chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity and more.

The CNN Parallels series took a closer look at the effects of sacrificing sleep on the human body.

The Parallels team gathered research that shows sleep deprivation can increase your risk of disease, traffic accidents, depression, anxiety, weight gain and a lot of other bad things. It may even mess with your genes.

This eyebrow-raising information got us wondering what we could do to get a better night's sleep. Below, we've outlined some of the CNN-provided advice for changing up your sleep habits — and we paired sleep-promoting products with each tip.

Keep Cool

PeachSkinSheets 1500 thread count sheets ($79.95; amazon.com)

It's important that your bed feels comfortable and your room is kept cool. This moisture-wicking sheet set was designed to help perspiring sleepers stay cool. With breathable fabric that gets softer with each wash, these cooling sheets are a smart choice when revamping your sleeping routine. In fact, with more than 400 Amazon reviews from customers who gave this product a 4.4- out of 5-star average rating, you know this product — and its cooling properties — have been put to the test.

Avoid Bright Lighting

Sunrise Simulator Sleep Companion ($99; ahalife.com)

Staring into bright light, especially display screens found on tech gadgets, can interfere with your circadian rhythm and disrupt your brain's production of melatonin, a hormone that aids you in falling asleep. To prevent any interference, we'd recommend investing in a sleep light, or one that gives off blue light, to relax the brain before bedtime.

Although there are many sleep lights or "mood lights" available on the market, this sleep simulator from Holi caught our eye since it acts as both a nighttime and a morning aid. The smart light, which syncs to your smartphone via the SLEEP360 app, imitates natural lighting to help your body respond as nature intended when it's time to go to sleep and time to wake up.

This device is compatible with most Android and iOS products. To see if your device can be paired, visit holi.io.

Develop a Routine

Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine ($49.99; amazon.com)

Learning a new sleep routine is just like forming any other habit. It's all about practice. We'd recommend investing in a product that creates a triggering response in your brain so that you know it's bedtime — similar to Pavlov's famous conditioning experiment.

For instance, we'd suggest buying a white-noise maker that plays soothing sounds. That way, when you hear that music, your brain will be reminded of what time of day it is: time for sleep.

The option we'd choose is the Marpac Dohm-DS, which has two speeds for drowning out disturbing noises and sleep disruptions. A best-seller on Amazon, this product is priced affordably (just under $50), making it an investment you certainly won't lose sleep over. The Dohm-DS was named the Official Sound Conditioner by the National Sleep Foundation. And, if that isn't enough, on Amazon, more than 12,000 people rated this product, giving it an overall average rating of 4.3 out of 5stars.

Exercise Daily

Exercise is another way to help us slumber better at night. Sleep.org, an educational site powered by the National Sleep Foundation, says that just 10 minutes per day of aerobic exercise can lead to better quality sleep.

During the day, many people find it hard to escape their desk jobs, which can restrict activity. That's why we'd recommend investing in an activity tracker, such as the Vivofit from Garmin ($99.99; buy.garmin.com).

This stylish wearable adjusts to and learns your daily lifestyle so that it can assign you personalized activity goals. Each day, it counts your steps, calories and distance and monitors your sleep. Those looking to hit at least 10 minutes daily of aerobic exercise will appreciate this feature: This nifty gadget lets you know when you've been sitting for too long and its alert function won't disable until you've walked around for a few minutes.