Struggling with your sleep? Experts share 6 tips that'll help.

A photo of a sleep mask. Printed on it are the words: Good night.
Experts say consistency is key when it comes to sleep.(Getty Images)

Get ready to hit the sheets on March 15, better known as #WorldSleepDay, an annual event where sleep specialists around the world promote sleep health. And there’s good reason to raise awareness about the importance of quality shut-eye, given that the current statistics on sleep deprivation are a real wake-up call. According to a December 2023 study that included more than 67,250 adults and published in the journal Sleep Health, only 15% of the participants slept between seven and nine hours — the recommended amount for adults — at least five nights a week.

About 70 million people experience sleep disorders each year, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The National Institutes of Health says that about 40% of adults report nodding off during the day without meaning to at least once a month, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that one in every three U.S. adults reports that they don't getting enough sleep on a nightly basis.

If you’re one of the millions who is need of a good night’s slumber, Dr. David Rosen, CEO of Renuma (a digital health platform for sleep apnea care), says the first step to improve the quality and quantity of sleep begins with patience and perseverance.

“Learn to accept that it’s OK to have a bad night of sleep,” Rosen tells Yahoo Life. “Remind yourself you’ve gotten through it before, and you will get through it again — and that really is the truth. If you do this, the frustration and anxiety about not sleeping goes away. And the funny thing is once that happens, your sleep may start getting better all on its own.”

However, practicing a few simple behavioral changes — aka sleep hygiene — and lifestyle strategies can also help improve sleep, as well as your physical health, mood and overall well-being. Here, experts offer their top tips for falling — and staying — asleep:

Sleep tip No. 1: Stick to a sleep schedule

Consistency is key when it comes to sleep. “Waking up at the same time seven days a week is easily the single most effective thing a person can do to regularize their circadian rhythms — a set of biological processes that follow a 24-hour cycle based on exposure to light and darkness — and improve melatonin production — a hormone in the brain that aid the body’s internal clock,” Dr. Michael Breus, a double board-certified clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, tells Yahoo Life.

He says that setting a fixed bedtime and wake up time can help train both your body and brain. “When the body and brain anticipate that bedtime is coming, they can start to prepare and wind down, which can make falling asleep easier,” he says. “And with consistent and predictable release, the brain can improve sleep quality.”

Sleep tip No. 2: Unplug before bedtime

Yes, the screens on those beloved digital devices — smartphones, TV, laptop, tablet — emit blue and white light, which can interfere with the body’s ability to create melatonin, leading to a decrease in sleep quality and sleep duration, according to research published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

“We can’t mention sleep these days without inevitably discussing screen habits,” says Rosen. “Social media platforms have sophisticated algorithms that are incentivized to grab your attention and rev up your emotions. This is not compatible with a good night's sleep. Put the FOMO in check and get that phone out of your bedroom.”

However, if you simply cannot drift off to sleep without a comfort show (Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, etc.) playing in the background, watch the program on a TV that is as far away from the bed as possible. Also, set a timer on the television if you have one to shut off during the night. And as a general rule, limit the time you spend watching TV in bed. The reason: You can become conditioned to associate the bed with wakefulness, rather than sleep, which can affect your ability to fall asleep on future nights.

Sleep tip No. 3: Keep your bedroom cool

Shortly before bedtime arrives, both Rosen and Breus recommend setting the thermostat between 65 and 68 degrees. Breus explains that our body temperature, which fluctuates during the day, is tied to circadian rhythm.

“In order for the body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin, we need to send the pineal gland a very specific signal,” he states. “This signal is one that comes when our body temperature hits a peak and then lowers — sometime around 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. — so sleeping in a cool room will help this process.”

Breus adds that natural ventilation has been linked to better sleep quality — particularly during the transitions between seasons in places with mild climates — and that people also tend to sleep better in bedrooms with fresh air. “Closing the blinds, shades or curtains can keep rooms cooler during hot weather,” he says. “Keeping the windows covered can also help your bedroom stay warm when it’s cold outside.”

Sleep tip No. 4: Exercise regularly — just not too close to bedtime

Being physically active during the day can help you catch z’s at night. The key is making sure to sweat it out more than four hours before bedtime, advises Breus. “Data suggests that daily exercisers see a dramatic improvement in their overall sleep quality,” he says. “However, exercising too close to bedtime raises your core body temperature when it needs to lower to allow for melatonin production.”

In fact, a 2023 study published in the journal Cureus found that exercise can act as a natural sleep aid by helping to promote relaxation and reduce sleep latency — the length of time it takes to drift off to sleep — along with being a promising strategy for managing sleep disorders, including insomnia.

Sleep tip No. 5: Consider taking a magnesium supplement

If getting a restful night’s sleep continues to be a pipe dream, talk with your health care provider about adding a magnesium supplement to your daily regimen. Along with encouraging the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and supporting muscle and nerve functions, this mineral helps promote sleep in a multiple of ways. “People who have healthy magnesium levels have better availability of GABA [a sleep-related neurotransmitter] for initiating and staying asleep,” Chelsie Rohrscheib, neuroscientist and sleep expert at Wesper, a sleep disorder diagnostics company, tells Yahoo Life.

This mineral has been shown to help calm the body, particularly muscles. “Magnesium is involved in muscle activity and can help our muscles better relax during sleep,” Rohrscheib says, noting that this can be especially helpful for people who get nightly cramps or have restless leg syndrome.

Magnesium may also play a role in boosting the body’s natural levels of melatonin. “Clinical studies have shown that low magnesium levels reduce the activity of the area of the brain that produces melatonin,” Rohrscheib says. “Thus, ensuring that your magnesium levels are healthy may help to keep melatonin availability high.”

If you’re not a fan of supplements, consider “the sleepy girl mocktail,” a nightcap popularized on social media that combines tart cherry juice, magnesium powder and prebiotic soda. Experts agree that the concentration of melatonin found in tart cherry juice and its anti-inflammatory properties can help you catch up on some beauty sleep.

Sleep tip No. 6: Try sleep accessories and apps

The global sleep aid market is booming: The industry earned an estimated $78 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $131 billion by 2032. With countless gadgets and apps available, experts highlight four products that may help you doze off:

  • Sleep apps. The Calm sleep and meditation app offers Sleep Stories, tales narrated by famous soothing voices, including Matthew McConaughey, neuroscientist Matthew Walker, Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy and an AI-generated voice of the late actor Jimmy Stewart. “The voices activate sensory and auditory processing areas, trigger emotional responses and help us focus our attention,” Shelby Harris, the director of sleep health at Sleepopolis and clinical psychologist, previously told Yahoo Life. “This can lead to the release of calming hormones, reduced activity in stress centers and improved sleep quality.”

  • An eye mask. Wearing an eye mask can help you sleep better by blocking out disrupting light, and research shows it can also improve brain health. “I think Manta has the best one on the market right now,” says Breus. “This is the sleep eye mask that my family and I use nightly. It’s a contoured mask with adjustable cups, so you can adjust the mask to your personal eye position. You can even swap out the eye cups if you want a nice cooling effect, or a different kind of cup like their silk cup. It’s a very versatile and very high-quality product. While it’s a bit costly, I think it’s worth it.”

  • A sound machine. Although the research is inconclusive, some people sleep better with a white-noise machine that can mask noises. Breus recommends the iHome Sunrise Alarm Clock With Sleep Sounds, which includes 15 white noises. “They do a great job of creating a unique and effective sound experience,” he says.

  • A wearable device. While there are several devices on the market, including the Oura Ring, that can help you track your sleep, others may help you calm down while you slumber. “I’ve recently found Apollo, a device made by neuroscientists and physicians which uses haptic vibrations while you’re asleep to keep you from waking up in the middle of the night,” says Breus. “It’s like music for your skin in terms of it having a very relaxing effect.”