Guiding You to
Better Sleep

We are dedicated to providing expert advice and side-by-side comparisons to help you advance your sleep health.

Providing objective advice and comprehensive research to those seeking healthy sleep habits

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Age, gender, lifestyle, general health, and many other factors impact how much sleep you may need. Do you get enough restful sleep?

Personalized Sleep Calculator

Personalized Sleep Calculator

We created this sleep calculator because we believe people should know when they should wake up and what time they should go to bed based on the latest sleep research.

Sleep Guide for Parents

Sleep Guides for Parents

Raising children isn't easy. Our team worked with pediatricians and sleep experts to create resources that address common sleep challenges parents face.

When To Replace Your Mattress

When to Replace Your Mattress?

It's a common belief that you should replace your mattress every 10 years. Is that true? We break down all of the factors to help you understand your mattresses' effective life span.

Quick Guide to Better Sleep

We've taken the advice from the top experts in the field of sleep medicine and organized their guidelines into five main categories for a good sleep foundation. You'll find high level areas to focus as well as links to deeper resources. Let's take a look at five critical factors that have a major impact on how well you might sleep. If you are looking for more sleep advice, take a look at our full guide to better sleep and how to combat insomnia.
Start Sleeping - Quick Guide to Better Sleep

1. Understand Your Circadian Rhythm

Your circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle, mainly influenced by light and darkness. Circadian rhythms are found in most living things, including animals, plants, and many tiny microbes.

The Impact of Light on Sleep

Your brain sets its circadian rhythm by its exposure to light. Don't expose yourself to bright lights (specifically blue light) within 1-2 hours of going to bed. Expose yourself to sunlight early in the morning and throughout the day, and exercise early in the morning outside if possible.

Sleep Consistency

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night (including the weekends). Respect your chronotype or tendency to go to bed earlier or later when figuring out the best time for you to go to bed every night.


Limit your naps to 20 minutes at the most, and don't nap late in the day. The best time is around 1-1:30 pm if you're an early riser, or 2:30-3 pm if you're a late riser.

2. Diet & Exercise

Exercise and diet can have a profound impact on sleep quality. The main impact is on hormones in the body. These are complicated subjects, but we dig in deeper to the fundamentals below.


Avoid eating a lot at night; a small snack with protein and carbohydrates is best. Caffeine late in the day and nicotine at any point in the day act as stimulants and can keep you awake. Be careful with sugar. It can prevent quality sleep, especially if consumed in the evening.

Alcohol and Marijuana Use

Though many use alcohol to relax before bed, there's evidence that it will prevent you from getting quality sleep because it significantly reduces stage 5 sleep or REM (rapid eye movement). Be careful with alcohol and marijuana consumption. You may fall asleep faster, but the overall quality of your sleep suffers.


People who exercise regularly sleep better at night, and the more vigorously you exercise, the more you benefit. There is even a relationship between sleep and athletic performance. It is ideal to exercise early in the morning. Journal your sleep quality every night and experiment to see how your exercise schedule affects your sleep quality. Most people do better with morning or afternoon workouts, though you could be one of the rarer ones, who sleep better after an evening workout.


3. Stress & Your Night Routine

Understand that whatever you do during the day can affect your sleep. If you’re experiencing stress and adrenaline at your job, at school, or in your relationships, it can hurt your sleep.


Do your best to reduce the overall levels of stress in your life. Your state during the day will affect your state at night. Have a relaxed attitude toward sleep. Tell yourself that if you don't sleep well one night, you'll make it up some other time.

Pre-Sleep Routine

Adopt a pre-sleep ritual that helps calm you down and tells your brain that it's time for sleep. If you experience a lot of stress during the day, find ways to release the stress before you go to bed. You can try journaling to let go of some of the stress, reading something that’s not stimulating. There are also several things that you can try to reduce stress, such as reading, meditation, stretching, and taking a bath.


4. Your Bedroom

Sleep environment is critical to sleep. You can do everything else right, but if you walk into a bedroom with polluted air, bright lights, and an old mattress, you may find that the sleep you can muster is low quality.

Light and Sound

Make sure your room is really dark. If you can't get it dark, wear a sleep mask. Your room should be quiet. If it isn't, wear earplugs, use white noise, and/or add items to your walls and room to deflect and/or absorb sound.

Your Bed

Your mattress shouldn't be making you hot. If it is, get a cooling mattress topper or change your mattress to a cooling mattress. Make sure that your mattress is the right firmness. Try sleeping on different mattresses (like if you travel and sleep in a hotel) to see what works best for you. Or you could take advantage of the many mattress companies who offer a 100-night in-home trial. Experiment with different pillows to find the one that works for you.

Air Quality

This doesn't usually show up on recommendations for sleeping better, but researchers from the University of Washington found that people who lived in high pollution areas were 60% more likely to sleep poorly compared to those who lived in areas with cleaner air. Consider the air quality of your room, especially if you have any breathing issues such as asthma or allergies. For more information, check out our guide on how to create the perfect sleep environment.

5. Pain When Sleeping

You can be doing everything else right, but it can be a really big challenge to fall asleep and stay asleep if you ultimately are in pain when you're lying down. If you're struggling with pain when you are trying to sleep, know that you aren't alone. There are many types of pain, but our experts have explored a few of the most common situations.

Back Pain

There is no perfect sleep position for everyone suffering from back pain. Sleep in a position that leaves you the most comfortable. Focus on lying in positions that create spinal alignment. Sometimes that means that you need to add support pillows to create that alignment. You'll also need to find the right firmness in a mattress for your sleep type to alleviate back pain. Oftentimes we find that people with an old mattress sleep out of alignment as the material breaks down with time.

Neck Pain

Up to 70% of people experience neck pain with some degree of regularity. Like with the rest of the spine, this pain is usually caused by events and habits throughout the day like sitting with poor posture. Maintaining a neutral spine with a proper neck pillow is key to allowing your neck to decompress at night. Make sure to try out as many as possible, until you find one that is right for you. Shoulder width, head size, weight, and sleep temperature are a few of the most important considerations you should keep in mind as you look to improve your neck pain at night.


We've done our research

Our recommendation for best mattress by category.

Our Experts

Devin Burke Sleep Expert
Devin Burke
Named "One of the top 25 health coaches" in America, Devin Burke is a TEDx speaker, best-selling author, renowned sleep coach and founder of the Sleep Science Academy. The Sleep Science Academy helps people to start sleeping using a unique holistic approach based on science. Devin has helped thousands of people improve their sleep and their lives.
Dr. Paola Cuevas, MVZ (Vet)
Dr. Paola Cuevas, MVZ (Vet)
Dr. Paola is the senior Veterinarian at Hepper. Over nearly two decades of experience in animal care, she has worked with various species, from companion animals to exotics. Nowadays, Paola focuses mainly on sharing her knowledge and educating pet parents to help improve animal lives worldwide. Her passion is animal welfare, and she loves to focus on the importance of preventive medicine.


Paola graduated from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.


Dr. Cuevas has over 18 years of veterinary and animal behaviorist experience and has worked with various species, from companion animals to exotics. She has skills in nutrition, microscopy, clinical pathology, diagnostic imaging, and endoscopy, as well as extensive experience in positive reinforcement animal training.
Dr. RJ Burr
Founder of REACH Rehab + Chiropractic Performance Center. Dr. RJ Burr works and lives according to the belief that to have a healthy, pain-free lifestyle, you must be responsible for your health by eating well and moving well. He believes that what you do when you're awake has a major impact on how you sleep.
Aaron Karns - Start Sleeping Founder
Aaron Karns
Aaron Karns, MA has a Bachelor of Economics from Eastern Michigan University and a master's degree in International Economics. Aaron did market research for 6 years, where he conducted focus group testing for products. He's one of our main product testers and researchers. Aaron is an outdoor enthusiast. He enjoys mountain biking and camping and is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast.
Ryan Fiorenzi, BS, Certified Sleep Science Coach
Ryan Fiorenzi is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and cofounder of Start Sleeping. He suffered from chronic insomnia due to lower back pain and chronic stress, which led him to study sleep and overcome his sleep issues.
Dr. Nicole Moshfegh
Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Nicole Moshfegh is a UCLA-trained licensed clinical psychologist with a practice in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in the treatment and assessment of insomnia, anxiety, depression, burnout, and trauma and is certified in cognitive behavioral and mindfulness based treatments. She additionally has expertise in career, relationship, and cultural issues. Her most recent book is: The Book of Sleep: 75 Strategies to Relieve Insomnia
Mary Sweeney
Mary Sweeney, RN, BSN, CEN, ONN-CG, is an oncology nurse navigator and medical writer. Before working in nurse navigation and patient education, Mary was an ER nurse at a level 1 trauma center, followed by active duty time as an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps. In the military, she worked in several areas including emergency/trauma, post-anesthesia, and deployment medicine. In her career, she has picked up on the important value sleep plays to health.
Kat Duff
Sleep Author

Kat Duff is the author of The Alchemy of Illness (Pantheon, 1993) and The Secret Life of Sleep (Beyond Words and Oneworld, 2014).

She writes at the intersection of the natural world and the human imagination as it occurs in our everyday experiences, and maintains a blog at She lives in northern New Mexico where she works as a counselor.

Dr. Ryan Colosi
Dr. Ryan P. Colosi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, ABPD College of Diplomates, Southeast Society of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Russell Colosi, who has owned a general dentistry practice outside of Buffalo, NY for over 35 years. Dr. Colosi has served in the US Navy Dental Corps and worked in private practices in Buffalo, NY, Lexington, SC & Charlotte, NC. He is passionate about the importance of sleep and works with people experiencing many types of sleep disturbances.
Dr. Matthew Russell
Dr. Russell attended the prestigious New York Chiropractic College where he completed his Doctorate degree. He quickly grew his family practice into one of the larger wellness clinics in the region and began serving his community in various ways – with an overwhelming emphasis on postural correction. After treating thousands of patients, it became clear that sleep deprivation and the associated relationship with chronic pain was one of the root causes of these concerns. Dr. Russell began designing therapeutic pillows that were based entirely on the science of anatomy, biomechanics, and ergonomics. While completing his Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA), Dr. Russell founded Slumbar Pillows.
Rebekah Karns
Rebekah Karms currently works at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center as a postdoctoral fellow in biomedical informatics. She focuses on childhood obesity, and she has a deep understanding on the impact that general health has on sleep quality. Before her current role, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati's Doctoral Graduate Program in Molecular Epidemiology and the Preparing Future Faculty Program.
Yasmin Johnston
Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Yasmin Johnston is a pediatric sleep specialist and founder of Mindful Sleep Consulting. With the birth of her second son, she experienced 5 months of sleepless nights, sleeping 3 hours or less per night. She hired a sleep consultant and within 2 weeks her son was taking two naps per day and and was sleeping through the night. It was because of this experience that she decided to do the same for other exhausted parents, and she trained with Dana Nobleman, the creator of The Sleep Sense™ Program, which is accredited by the International Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. Her focus is helping children who struggle with sleep, as well as the parents to develop a customized sleep plan to help everyone get more restful sleep.
Amberlie Price
Yoga and Meditation Teacher
Amberlie Price has been teaching yoga since 2009. She teaches Vinyasa yoga as well as other fitness classes including HIIT, dance, and bootcamp.  She currently teaches in Northeast Ohio.

Sources and Partners

Below you'll find some of our most trusted sources we use when researching sleep topics and creating educational resources, tools and product guides. For any topic we cover we look for scholarly sources, medical experts and peer reviewed studies with conclusive results to support our work.

University Of Michigan Health System - Start Sleeping Sources
Anxiety And Depression Association Of America - Start Sleeping Sources
National Library of Medicine - Start Sleeping Sources
National Sleep Foundation - Start Sleeping Sources
National Safety Council - Start Sleeping Sources
American Academy of Pediatrics - Start Sleeping Sources
US Department of Health and Human Services - Start Sleeping Sources
Mayo Clinic Health System - Start Sleeping Sources

Frequently Asked Questions

A:If you have trouble falling or staying asleep and conventional remedies have failed you, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a safe alternative option to try.
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