WELLNESS
10/14/2014 08:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Must-Haves For The Perfect Night's Sleep

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While there are a number of rules for better sleep that are backed by sound science, sometimes the key to a good night's sleep is a little more personal. Maybe you sleep best in your favorite PJs or snuggling with a teddy bear you don't like to admit still lives with you. We're not here to judge!

Below, we've shared some of our own necessities for our best night's sleep, plus a little bit of evidence that suggests our habits aren't completely off base.

A bath.
bath sleep
--Arianna Huffington, chair, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post

Why it works: Body temperature naturally dips about two hours before bedtime, Health magazine reported, a natural change that prepares the brain for sleep. A soak in the tub temporarily lifts your temperature, resulting in a quick cooldown after you hop out that can be relaxing. A small study from 1985 found that people who take a warm bath before bed not only fall asleep more quickly, but also report better quality of sleep.

Ear plugs.
"There's a car alarm on my block that ruins my life on a nightly basis, the really obnoxious kind that's sensitive to any sort of tangential movements." --Carly Schwartz, Deputy National Editor

"I live in a second-floor apartment with the bedroom facing the street, so there's a lot of traffic and loud people outside. If I'm having problems falling asleep, they work wonders." --Erin Schumaker, Blog Editor

Why it works: Experts agree that the ideal bedroom is cool, dark and quiet -- and earplugs are a simple (and inexpensive!) way to make yours even more quiet, fast. They can help block out not only those traffic noises, but a snoring bed partner or even the hum of electronics.

White noise.
"I made fun of my boyfriend's sound machine when we first started dating, but now I can't sleep without it! Not only is the white noise soothing, it drowns out the spooky nighttime creaks of our old house. I suppose in some ways it's the adult equivalent of a nightlight!" --Meredith Melnick, Editorial Director, Healthy Living

Why it works: Those car alarms and chatty pedestrians are even more likely to disturb your slumber if your bedroom is too quiet. "[I]t's the inconsistency of sound or silence that's disruptive," Thomas Roth, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit told Prevention. White noise can provide a blanket of consistent sound to mask any intrusions.

A good pillow (or several).
pillows sleep
"Years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, I made the mistake of purchasing a mediocre set -- whatever was on sale at the nearby big-box store. I also never replaced them -- shame on me, I know! When I finally invested in nicer (read: squishy yet supportive) pillows, my sleep changed for the better." --Jordan K. Turgeon, Senior Lifestyle Blog Editor

Why it works: Most of us can appreciate the value in a good mattress, but we don't always place such importance upon our pillows. But, "Your pillow might be the reason you're not sleeping well," Park Avenue Spine's Paul Salinas, DC, told HuffPost Home. "Pillows are not one-size-fits-all, it really comes down to preference and comfort." Your sleep style plays a big role in the type of pillow you'll need, since the pillow should ideally fill the gap between your head and shoulders when you lie down, keeping your head in perfect alignment to avoid neck pain.

An eye mask.
"There's a serenity to the all-encompassing darkness provided by my eye mask that makes falling asleep so much easier." --Sarah Klein, Senior Editor, Health & Fitness

Why it works: We don't have to tell you that bright light and sleep don't mix, but the effects may be bigger than you realize. Even the seemingly innocuous glow of an alarm clock can send a message to your brain to stay awake and alert, so covering up with a mask can preserve your sleep haven.

The right combination of sheets and blankets.
sheets and blankets
"I can't sleep with a top sheet -- only a comforter. It drives me nuts because I get all twisted in extra covers." --Lindsay Holmes, Associate Editor, GPS for the Soul

"I have to sleep with a blanket -- it can be just a sheet, but I need to be covered somehow! I find it very uncomfortable/unnerving to sleep without one." --Amanda Chan, Managing Editor, Healthy Living

Why it works: Bedding is crucial in maintaining the perfect temperature for sleep, and losing (or hogging) the covers can easily leave you either too hot or too cold on a regular basis. Luckily, you don't have to follow any rules of sheets and blankets, since it's mostly a matter of personal preference, but that does mean it might take some trial and error.

What do you need by your side for the perfect night's sleep? Let us know in the comments below!

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