The National Sleep Foundation's annual campaign promoting the health benefits of sleep is from March 3-10, ending with the return to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday. This year's National Sleep Awareness Week also coincides with the release of Consumer Reports' comprehensive mattress tests, with advice on finding the perfect mattress for your body type and tips for getting the right amount of shut-eye.
Americans aren't sleeping well, a point underscored by Elizabeth Kolbert in her article "Up All Night: The Science of Sleeplessness" in this week's New Yorker. Kolbert cites a 2011 poll in which more than half of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 said they experience a sleep problem almost every night. And the U.S. Department of Transportation has determined that drowsy U.S. drivers cause 40,000 injuries a year and more than 1,500 deaths.
The right mattress is one requirement of a good night's sleep. About 40 percent of subscribers in Consumer Reports' latest survey said they had buyer's remorse about the last mattress they bought. Certain mattresses are better for back sleepers, while others help keep the spine relatively horizontal if you sleep on your side. Our advice is to try out multiple mattresses in the store to find the one that's right for you.
Once you've settled on the right mattress, sleeping soundly is all about best habits and practices. Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do, according to the NSF's 2013 Sleep in American poll. More than three quarters of exercisers said their sleep quality was very good or fairly good in the past two weeks, compared to slightly more than one half of non-exercisers. We agree, though our advice is to work out at least four hours before bedtime to give your body time to come down from the high.
Read "10 ways to get more shut-eye" for our complete advice on sleeping through the night. And if you're in the market for a new mattress, don't miss our Ratings of a dozen mattresses from popular brands, including Sealy, Serta, Simmons, and Tempur-Pedic.