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Time change ruining your sleep? Simple ways to fall asleep faster

Inexpensive things that can help you get your z's.
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 10, 2023

As the clocks spring forward, many people will lose sleep in the coming days due to the adjustment. If you're worried about getting enough shut-eye, there are simple adjustments you can make.

A new mattress or pillows can be great for improving your sleep quality but a new bed will easily cost over $1,000. Some other purchases could help even more, and they cost just a fraction of the price.

Dr. Karthik Kanagarajin is a sleep specialist at theSleep Center of Christ Hospital in Cincinnati.

He helps hundreds of patients catch their z's every year without using sleeping pills, which he says can cause long-term problems for many people.

He says social media and streaming videos have made tuning out at bedtime so much harder.

"With modern technology, bedrooms with LED lights, TVs, laptops, tablets, and iPhones, we are not having that contrast with the daytime anymore," Kanagarajin said.

Things that can help improve your sleep

In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, more than 60 percent of people have purchased something to help them sleep.

The items that helped the most?

Consumer Reports says air conditioners and inexpensive fans are a great start, as they give off calming background noise while cooling the room at the same time.

Consumer Reports' Tanya Christian says a cool, dark room is most helpful.

"If you are too hot, that is going to cause sleep disruptions," she said.

But when it comes to improving sleep, you don't have to overspend.

Both Kanagarajin and Consumer Reports suggest black-out shades or curtains as a way to block out light from street lights and other outdoor sources.

But they can be pricey. An inexpensive sleep mask, or eye shades, as some people call them, can work just as well for just a few dollars. You can block out even the smallest lights shining in your bedroom with a piece of tape.

"If you have an indicator light on your TV," Christian said, "that little red dot could be keeping you awake. We say put electrical tape over it. Make sure there's nothing in the room that causing light disturbances."

Consumer Reports found that some of the trendiest tools, like smartphone sleep trackers, were much less effective for improving sleep.

"You might want to invest in it just to say, 'Hey, I know how much sleep I'm getting,' but it's not really promoting better sleep," Christian said.

But Kanagarajin said you don't need to tuck your phone away: there are some sleep-assisting smartphone apps he likes.

"We recommend meditation apps," he said. "I am a big believer in mindful meditation."

He suggests looking at the appsHeadspaceandCalm.

One last tip from the doctor: dim your phone to night mode.

He knows you are not going to turn it off an hour before bedtime, which would be ideal. But he says dimming the screen helps your body get sleepy, at no extra cost, and you don't waste your money.

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