How To Sleep Well Every Night

We reviewed dozens of studies to identify the most effective tips for solving the most common sleep problems.

Special Report:  We receive many requests, but of all the questions we get, improving sleep is the most common request. After all, up to 70 million Americans have sleep disorders, and 1 out of 3 adults say they don’t get enough rest.

So, as a special Sunday email, we’re breaking down the rules of rest, using all of the latest research. 

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Everyone has different needs, but research makes it very clear when sleep deprivation kicks in and when health benefits are their greatest. 

Minimum Effective Dose: The minimum number of hours is 6 per night, and anything below that is associated with many potential problems.

Maximizing health benefits: The optimum amount of sleep is 7 to 9 hours. 

The First Rule of Sleep

Recent research examined more than 2,000 adults and found that those consistently inconsistent with their bedtime (and total hours in bed) were more likely to have hardened arteries than those who had a consistent bedtime.

Research also suggests that people who don’t set sleep schedules are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease. And another study of 90,000 people linked the lack of a bedtime routine to mood disorders.

This isn’t about the random nights you stay up until 2 am. It’s consistently shifting your bedtime by 2 to 3 hours per night, such as going to bed at 9 pm one night and then midnight another night and doing it consistently.

The first rule of sleep: get a similar amount of rest each night.

Your Mattress Matters 

There’s no shortage of sleep solutions, but the first place to look might be the most obvious – your mattress. 

Dozens of studies suggest that a bad mattress is the reason for poor sleep quality. 

Technology has made big changes, and maybe none is bigger than the ability to adjust the temperature of your bed. New research suggests that having a slightly cooler mattress can make it easier to fall asleep and lead to higher-quality rest. Those who had lower core body temperature had lower heart rates during their sleep (this is a good thing), and — most notably — more time spent in stage 3 sleep (your recovery sleep) and better heart rate variability (HRV).

Our warning: many mattresses promise a better night of sleep, and very few have research to back up the claims. But one does. 

We reviewed all the best mattresses, and Eight Sleep stood out as the best – by far. The product was so great that we are paying customers and even got a sleep pod for Arnold.

The Eight Sleep is clinically proven to give you up to one more hour of quality sleep per night.

In the study, those using the sleep pod fell asleep faster, slept longer, had fewer sleep disturbances, and had more energy the next day. Specifically, they increased their deep and REM sleep, improved cardiovascular recovery, and reported feeling calmer and more comfortable. 

The hardest part about sleep is that your body reacts differently at night. The new Pod 4 from Eight Sleep is built for personalization, unlike anything we’ve seen. It adjusts to your body’s sleep cycle to help you sleep well every night. The latest technology means you can adjust the bed without your phone, and sensors can detect when you snore and adjust the bed to help you rest better, clinically reducing snoring by up to 45 percent. 

As members of the positive corner of the internet, we love getting you deals on the best productions. 

If you want to upgrade your sleep, use the code “PUMPCLUB” to save up to $350 OFF the new Pod 4 by Eight Sleep. This is a special offer just for Arnold’s Pump Club. Eight Sleep currently ships within the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and select countries in the EU. And it includes a 30-night trial. To us, it’s one of the best health investments you can make. 

Time When You Eat And Upgrade Your Sleep

Research suggests that the timing of your last meal can either improve or disrupt the quality of your sleep — depending on how close it is to your bedtime.

One study found that people who ate within an hour of sleeping were twice as likely to wake up at night and had lower-quality rest. More importantly, sleep disruptions were linked to a higher likelihood of shorter or longer sleep durations. This happens when sleep problems disrupt your normal circadian rhythms, leading to unnatural sleep durations. 

Try having your last meal approximately two (or more) hours before you sleep. 

The Ideal Pre-Bed Snack

A review of 27 studies found that eating enough carbs — and the right type — significantly enhances sleep quality. 

Participants who ate more carbs experienced up to a 25 percent improvement in overall sleep duration and a 30 percent decrease in sleep disturbances. This included waking up fewer times at night, contributing to a more restful sleep experience.

Research suggests for every 10 grams of fiber you eat, you have four fewer sleep disruptions per hour of sleep.

To adjust your diet, eat more complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Those carbs positively affected sleep more than simple carbohydrates, such as sugar-loaded foods and baked goods. The complex carbs can help provide a steady release of serotonin, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter that can lull you into a peaceful slumber. If you’re looking for better sleep, add a serving or two fiber-loaded carbs to your final meal, ideally at least two to three hours before sleep. 

Additionally, the study found that higher fat consumption is linked to less slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep is the deep sleep that helps your body recharge and recover. So include healthy fat options – such as nuts or nut butters – before you sleep. 

Set A Consistent Bedtime…

According to researchers, maintaining an irregular sleep schedule can lead to a shorter life.

This is similar to the first rule of sleep, but it’s not just about how much time you spend sleeping; it’s the consistency of when you shut down each night.

Sleep regularity is associated with up to a 48 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, as high as 39 percent lower risk of cancer mortality, and more than 50 percent lower risk of cardiometabolic mortality.

Irregular sleepers refer to people who go to sleep at different times or consistently shift between different sleep durations. So, if you wildly vary when you sleep and wake or dramatically shift how much you sleep each night, either can potentially cause health issues. 

Instead, having a consistent sleep schedule — trying to sleep a similar number of hours, as well as go to bed and wake at a similar time — can significantly impact your overall health and longevity. 

…And Beware Of Sleeping In

It’s common sense to try to sleep more during the weekend to make up for poor sleep on weekdays – or is it?

Researchers found that irregular sleep patterns are associated with a higher likelihood of atherosclerosis.

This is not about an ideal bedtime or hours you must sleep. It’s more about creating a consistent schedule that determines when you go to bed and how long to sleep.

In the study, people with greater sleep irregularity — defined as shifting the hours of sleep and the time you go to bed — had more plaque buildup in their arteries. So, instead of going to bed one night at 10 pm and other nights at 1 am, it’s best to have a similar bedtime and get a similar number of hours each night.

Don’t alter the amount you sleep each night on the weekends by more than 2 hours. For example, if you get 6 hours one night, it's best to get 8 hours the next night instead of overcompensating and sleeping for 10 hours. 

Don’t Sleep With The TV On

Sometimes, passing out with the TV on feels like a relaxing way to end a long day. But it’s not something you’ll want to do often. 

Research suggests that sleeping with the TV on can also potentially cause health issues, disrupt your metabolism, and influence weight gain.

Evening light disrupts circadian rhythms, harming sleep quality. Poor sleep impacts the hormones that control your hunger and fullness, meaning you’re less likely to feel full and more likely to crave salty, sugary, fatty foods. 

Scientists discovered that sleeping with the TV on was associated with nearly a 20 percent increased risk of gaining 11 pounds over five years. That said, it was an observational study, which means you can’t claim cause and effect, but there appears to be a relationship. To play it safe, do your best to turn off the TV before you sleep and limit the light in your bedroom.

The Benefits of Better Sleep

We’re not recommending sleep simply because we want you to be less cranky. If you have a health goal – almost any health goal – better sleep will help support it. 

Improving Longevity

Recent research suggests the quality of your sleep is one of the strongest predictors of how long you might live.

The scientists reviewed data from more than 170,000 people to understand how your sleep behaviors and habits — not just how long you sleep — affect your health, disease risk, and longevity. They analyzed five different variables:

  1. Sleep duration

  2. Difficulty falling asleep more than twice per week

  3. Staying asleep without trouble

  4. Not needing prescription sleep medication

  5. Feeling well-rested after waking (at least five times per week)

Those who were good sleepers lived five years longer, were 30 percent less likely to die from any reason, 21 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, and 20 percent less likely to die from cancer. 

The magic number for sleep appears to be at least six hours per night, ideally between seven to nine hours. 

Adding More Muscle

Research suggests that prioritizing sleep can help you hold onto more muscle when losing weight and shed more body fat. 

In the study, participants followed a calorie-restricted diet focused on weight loss. However, one group was forced to get inadequate sleep (5.5 hours per night) while the others received a good night of rest (8.5 hours). 

The underslept group lost 80 percent of muscle, whereas the well-rested group lost almost all fat. And another study found that just one week of poor sleep causes you to hold onto more fat and burn muscle. And it was not offset by sleeping in on the weekend and making up for the lack of rest. 

Upgrading Fat Loss

When you drop below 6 hours per night, your brain and body give your fat loss goals the middle finger. 

A study of 68,000 people found that those who slept less than 6 hours a night weighed an average of 5 pounds more and were 15 percent more likely to be overweight than those who slept more than 7 hours a night. A lack of sleep will also make you more irritable, susceptible to depression and anxiety, and can increase the likelihood of issues with your heart.

And there are multiple reasons why sleep is so important for managing your weight. Researchers recently studied the relationship between your sleep routine and insulin sensitivity (how well your body tolerates carbs). In other words, the better you sleep, the better your metabolism can handle, process, and regulate the foods you eat.

Research also suggests improving your sleep hygiene can help reduce the amount of sugar you eat (and reduce the total calories and fat you eat on a daily basis). 

Other research suggests sleep deprivation triggers brain changes that increase your hunger hormones (ghrelin) while turning off the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin). This combination makes it easier to overeat and crave foods you might be trying to limit.

These reasons are probably why ​researchers found that prioritizing sleep helps you eat less significantly food. When participants improved their sleep from 6.5 to 7.5 hours per night, they ate 270 fewer calories per day. To be clear, emphasizing more sleep was the only change. The participants didn't add supplements, change their exercise, adjust their diet, or get new dietary advice.

Health Protection

Studies found that poor sleep increases hypertension risk and could make you more likely to suffer a stroke. 

We could keep going, but we think you get the point. Here are all the different ways you can improve your sleep to make it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get higher-quality rest. 

When You Don’t Sleep Well…

Some nights might not go your way, whether you go out, don’t follow your habits, are too stressed, or are taking care of your children. 

When that happens, there might be an easy button to help you stay mentally sharp the next day.

A new study found that a single dose of creatine can keep your brain functioning at a high level even when you’re sleep-deprived. 

The study was notable not just because of the impact but because of the immediate benefits. Most studies suggest taking creatine for about a month to see the benefits. However, this showed benefits in just two nights. 

Research suggests you need at least 10 grams of creatine per day for the cognitive benefits. 

The Sleep Upgrade Checklist

We’ve shared all the different actions you can take to ensure better rest. Here’s a science-backed checklist for improving your sleep:

  • Go to bed at a similar time each night.

  • Upgrade your mattress.

  • Keep your room and mattress cooler to support deeper, higher-quality sleep.

  • Get sunlight into your eyes early in the day to help set your circadian rhythm. 

  • Cut off caffeine at least 9 to 10 hours before you sleep.

  • Limit technology at least 1 hour before sleep, and keep lights dimmer. 

  • Cut off food at least 2 hours before you sleep. 

  • Don’t sleep with the lights on; keep your room as dark as possible.

  • Read, talk with a friend, or journal at night. Do something that shifts your brain into something enjoyable and away from anxiety. 

We hope you all enjoyed this sleep special, and we’ll see you tomorrow!

-Arnold, Adam, and Daniel

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell