For National Bed Month, we’ve analysed 50 of the most Googled sleep-related questions, uncovering the top 10.
Our CEO and sleep expert, Martin Seeley, has then shared his expertise by answering each of the questions – helping you increase your chances of a good night’s sleep.
1. How can I stop snoring?
264,000 Brits Google this every year
Martin said: “Unfortunately, snoring cannot be ‘cured’ but you can cut down your night-time noises with a few simple tricks. Firstly, you should never sleep on your back as when you’re lying in this position, your tongue, neck tissue and chin press down on your airways, disrupting the airflow and making you more likely to snore. Instead, you should sleep on your side”.
“You should also be conscious of how much alcohol you drink before bed, and limit yourself to only one night per week if possible. Whilst many people find that drinking helps them drift off quicker, alcohol actually relaxes the muscles in your throat, which removes the rigidity around the airways. This sets off the vibrations in your soft tissue, making you more likely to snore”.
“Finally, something as simple as buying new pillows could make all the difference to your snoring. As we spend a third of our entire lives in bed, naturally, pillows pick up dust, skin flakes and other allergies that can trigger symptoms such as snoring. Try replacing any tired, flat pillows with a new one that has ‘hypoallergic’ in its product name as these help cut down the number of fine particles around your nose and mouth.”
2. When is REM sleep?
252,000 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Your sleep stages are divided into non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) and rapid eye movement (REM). REM is the deeper stage of sleep and tends to happen 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The first period of REM typically lasts around 10 minutes; however, your later REM stages tend to get longer, with the final one lasting up to an hour”.
“During this period, your eyes move around rapidly in a range of directions, and your breathing becomes irregular. You’re also most likely to have the most vivid dreams during REM, however, our brain paralyses your muscles, such as your legs and arms, so that you do not act out your dreams.”
3. How can I fall asleep faster?
177,600 Brits Google this every year
Martin has shared his four top tips for falling asleep faster:
1. Turn the night mode feature on your phone on at least three hours before bed
“You should also limit the use of your phone in the lead-up to your bedtime. Light is the most important external factor that can impact your sleep as it plays a central role in regulating your body’s internal clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm. This signals when to be alert and when to rest.”
2. Dim your lights late afternoon to send a signal to your brain that it’s nearing bedtime
“For the same reason as above, it’s important to start dimming your lights or using ambient lighting on a late afternoon, so that by the time you get to bed, your bedroom is virtually black and your brain is aware that it is time for bed.”
3. Create a winding down routine to reduce the production of this stress hormone
“When you’re stressed or anxious, your body produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol. The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel. This is why it’s important to have a night-time routine full of calming activities. This could include anything from yoga to stretching, meditating to deep breathing, journaling or even having a hot bath – all of which are proven to help you relax."
4. If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes and still can’t - try this five-minute hack
“Known as the Cognitive Shuffle, you should list random items in your head that are easy to visualise but not directly related i.e. potatoes, Tarzan, a violin. This will tire your brain out and help keep your mind off issues preventing you from sleeping. If you’re struggling to think of words, make your way through the alphabet then repeat.”
4. How do I get back to sleep in the middle of the night?
175,200 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Getting back to sleep in the middle of the night is a pain, however, more than half of Brits wake up in the middle of the night, so this problem is a lot more common than you may think. There are, however, some simple ways you can make it easier to fall back asleep:
1. Stay off your phone
“Bright lights can interfere with your body's production of melatonin and can stimulate wakefulness, which is not what you want in the middle of the night – so it is recommended that you stay off your phone. What’s more, seeing the time will lead to you subconsciously working out how many hours until you need to be awake, which will make you more anxious and keep you awake for longer."
2. Try this meditating technique
“Giving breathing exercises or meditating a go can help calm your mind and induce sleep. We recommend the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which is where you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Keep repeating this until you fall asleep.”
3. Perform a full-body scan
“Alternatively, if you are sleeping next to a light sleeper who would wake up if you were to perform a breathing technique – here’s another tip. Try a full-body scan which helps relax your muscles. Simply close your eyes and breathe slowly. Next, focus on your face and think about relaxing each of your muscles in your face. After thirty seconds to a minute, move onto your neck and do the same thing for thirty seconds. Then your shoulders, and then your arms. Essentially, you want to relax every muscle until you make your way down to your feet.”
5. How much sleep do I need?
118.000 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to how many hours of sleep the average person needs as it is dependent on several factors. However, the most important factor is your age; if you’re a teenager aged between 14-17 years old, it’s recommended to sleep for 8-10 hours each night. For adults (18–64-year-olds), you should aim for 7-9 hours, and for older adults aged 65 and above, you need slightly less between 7-8 hours."
“However, these figures serve as a guideline and can vary person to person, depending on their needs. When deciding on how much sleep you need, you should track your sleep over the space of two weeks. Each night, write down how long you slept for the night before, rate your productiveness on a scale of 1-10, as well as your happiness on a scale of 1-10."
“Once this experiment ends, take everything into consideration, as well as any underlying health conditions that may require more sleep and also your job. Do you work in a labour-intensive job, or do you sit at a desk at all? If you’re on your feet all day, you are more likely to need more sleep at night-time to let your body recover. Also, ask yourself - do I feel rested after 7 hours of sleep or do I need at least 8 or 9? Do I rely on caffeine to get me through the day? These questions should help you find the right answers”.
6. Does pressing snooze make you more tired?
117,600 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Yes! Your sleep cycle is made up of light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep (rapid eye movement), which is where you tend to dream. REM is the most restorative of the sleep cycles and is essential for the body to feel refreshed and restored the next day. Unfortunately, studies show that hitting ‘snooze’ can have more of a negative impact than a positive one”.
“This is because a five-to-ten-minute snooze time is not enough time for your body to go into REM sleep. Instead, it can lead to your body staying in ‘light sleep’ as it waits to enter the REM sleep state and, therefore, puts you in a fight or flight mode. This then triggers a response that increases your blood pressure and heartbeat as you wake up, leaving you on high alert and setting yourself up the wrong way for the day.”
7. Which sleep position is best?
97,200 Brits Google this every year
Martin said: “Despite popular misconceptions, you can actually sleep in any position as long as your sleep posture is correct. To do this, you need to be in a position where your spine is adequately supported from your neck right down to the base of your spine. This means keeping your spine in a neutral position, so that it lies straight from the neck to the lower back. Not only does the neutral position keep your spine in alignment. But it also ensures that your internal organs, muscles and other joints are correctly supported. It prevents aches and pains, stiffness, and even muscle spasms from wrecking a good night’s rest.”
“Side sleeping is often praised for being the best sleeping position as it helps improve your circulation and digestion, whilst opening your airways for easier breathing – lessening your chances of snoring! If you sleep in this position, make sure to sleep in the foetal position and place a flat pillow or cushion between your knees to reduce the pressure on your hips”.
“If you sleep on your back, make sure that your pillows and mattress support your body to keep that neutral spine alignment all the way down to your hips. Or, alternatively, if you sleep on your front, it’s extra important to make sure that you are properly supported. To avoid that ‘arched back’ syndrome that can result in aches and pains when you wake up, try choosing a medium-firm mattress, to help you achieve a flatter or more level spine.”
8. Why do I keep having nightmares?
66,000 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Nightmares can be caused by a variety of factors. For example, it could be as something as simple as eating a snack too close to your bedroom, which increases your metabolism and signals to your brain to be more active. Or, alternatively, an increase in nightmares could be linked to sleep deprivation, or from feeling anxious or depressed.”
“To decrease your chances of a negative dream from occurring, try journaling. You should look up what these dreams mean online and identify any reoccurring themes. You should also decrease your intake of caffeine as it can be the cause of an increase in anxiety, which then triggers nightmares. Finally, make sure to have a winding down routine at night as this signals to your brain that it’s time to switch off. This could be as simple as running yourself a hot bath or reading a book before bed.”
9. What are the benefits of a weighted blanket?
64,800 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Weighted blankets which are designed to promote sleep by reducing a person’s stress and anxiety and are, therefore, becoming ever popular. When under one, they feel like a hug due to their technique of deep pressure stimulation (DPS) to make the user feel more secure, whilst relaxing their nervous system.” However, there are many more benefits, such as:
1. Encouraging deeper sleep
“Known as the ‘happy chemical’, serotonin is a chemical that transmits messages between nerve cells. It can also impact your sleep-wake cycle by regulating your sleep stages and impacting the depth of your sleep, however, research shows that using a weighted blanket before bed can stimulate the release of serotonin. In turn, this helps the user sleep more peacefully and soundly.”
2. Decreasing night-time anxiety
“Weighted blankets are also favoured by those who have anxiety and/or depression. Part of this is because a weighted blanket is often incorporated into a person’s self-care routine at night-time, however, using one also positively impacts their autonomic nervous system. When it is overactive, it can lead to anxiety and hyperactivity, especially at bedtime you finally stop moving for the day and maybe left with your brain processing everything from tomorrow’s to-do list to the feeling of FOMO. However, using a weighted blanket on an afternoon helps put your nervous system into “rest mode”, and slows down your heart rate."
3. Stopping you from tossing and turning at night
“If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, a weighted blanket can help reduce this movement due to its heaviness. This is also known as the ‘cocooning’ effect, which many parents do to their new-born babies to help them sleep more soundly at night.”
4. Improving your mood
“Using a weighted blanket can also improve your mood as the weight increases the production of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol – both of which can have a significant impact on your sleep.”
10. How can I stop night sweats?
52,800 Brits Google this every year
Martin said, “Waking up in the middle of the night with soaked nightwear can be extremely uncomfortable and make it difficult to go back to sleep. However, making small adjustments to your sleep environment can help to alleviate the effects of night sweats”.
“Firstly, you should create a cool environment in the bedroom. Instead of sleeping with one thick duvet, consider multiple thin layers that can be removed or added as necessary. Next you should choose breathable nightwear and keep a spare set close to hand in case you would benefit from a quick change in the night. Finally, keep a bottle of cool water on your bedside table that you can drink throughout the night.”