Google’s sleep experts share 5 tips for better rest

Google’s sleep experts share 5 tips for better rest

Bridget Starkey

We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed before. After a night of tossing and turning, you might feel moody and fatigued, and have a hard time thinking clearly the next day. If you’ve ever come down with a cold, or felt a bit more on edge after a stretch of sleepless nights, you’ve experienced just how important sleep is for your overall health.

Fortunately, a few small changes in your nightly routine (with the help of some helpful tech), and even breaks for restoration throughout the day, can make a big impact on your wellbeing.

I consulted our Google Consumer Health experts, Dr. Conor Heneghan, PhD, senior staff research scientist; Dr. Logan Schneider, M.D., clinical specialist for sleep behavior; and Dr. Megan Jones Bell, PsyD, clinical director of consumer and mental health for some helpful tips on how I – and so many others – can get better sleep.

A man in bed sleeping, wearing a Fitbit device.

Sleeping with a Fitbit device or Google Pixel Watch can help you better track and understand how you sleep.

1. Keep your routine consistent, even on the weekends.

Ever feel like you can’t “catch up” from a jam-packed social weekend or midweek work travel? Do you feel groggy after a slow Saturday morning? Our bodies and brains rely on the regularly recurring cycles of the world around us, timing their internal rhythms to those cues. Sleep sets your body’s internal “clocks” that determine when you should be alert and when you should be asleep. So if you’re staying up or sleeping well past the time you usually wake up, you’re confusing your body, telling it to adjust to a later time zone.

Instead, set a consistent routine that works for you and stick to it. Your body naturally starts sending natural signals to prepare for sleep about two hours before your typical sleep time, so provide it with regular signals for what’s to come by setting a bedtime routine in the Google Home app. Lights off! Soothing sounds, on!

2. Avoid screen time before bed.

Whether you’re checking your email one last time for the day or mindlessly scrolling social media, bringing your phone into the pre-bedtime “buffer zone” can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and a restless one. Bright, blue light-emitting screens stimulate the hormones that keep you awake, disrupting your circadian rhythm.

Instead, have your screen time in the morning, when the bright light will reinforce your wake-up routine and make it easier to get going. Try creating a “Bedtime mode” with the Digital Wellbeing feature on Pixel 7 ProPixel 7 or Pixel 6a to pause unwanted notifications, calls and texts one to two hours before it’s time to sleep. Pixel phone features like Flip to Shhh can help you create healthy boundaries by automatically putting your Pixel into “Do Not Disturb” mode when you lay it face down on a flat surface.

A woman looks at her Pixel phone while sitting in the living room.

Pixel phone features like Flip to Shhh, Digital Wellbeing and Bedtime mode help manage disturbances for a better night’s sleep.

3. Limit caffeine and alcohol.

That extra glass of wine with dinner might make you feel sleepier, but you’re more likely to get restless throughout the night because it can disrupt your REM sleep, a restorative stage when you’re deep in your dreams. On the flip side, caffeine too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep and you’ll probably feel drowsy the next day.

If you need a boost of energy in the afternoon, try going for a walk and listening to an upbeat playlist with Pixel Buds Pro. Everyone’s needs are different, so wear a device like Google Pixel Watch – or have your Nest Hub (2nd Gen) on your nightstand – to track your sleep patterns and see what habits are best for your sleep quality, including alcohol or caffeine intake.

4. Start a smart wake-up routine instead of hitting snooze.

It can be tempting, but hitting the snooze button for a few more minutes actually just tricks your brain into thinking you’re getting more sleep. In reality, you’re breaking up the natural cycles of sleep and keeping your brain more alert, resulting in lighter sleep that doesn’t help you feel refreshed.

Try allowing yourself to sleep in until you need to wake up rather than setting an early alarm. Set up a bedtime and rise routine in the Google Home app to power your bedroom lights off in the evenings and on in the mornings, timed with your bedtime or alarm clock. You can also use the Sunrise Alarm on Nest Hub (2nd Gen) for a gentler awakening that simulates a sunrise, while still keeping your sleep space free of unwanted light pollution, like direct sunlight or outdoor lights that might disrupt your sleep. Smart Wake on your Fitbit device can even wake you up during an optimal sleep stage – no snoozing required.

A woman stretches by the window while wearing Fitbit Sense 2.

Fitbit’s Smart Wake feature will help you wake up feeling more rested by having your silent alarm go off during the optimal stage of sleep.

5. Worried about sleep? Sorry, but that might make it worse.

Looking at your sleep data alone isn’t the whole story – you might end up feeling bad about your lack of sleep, or obsessing over not meeting your goal every day. Clinicians call this phenomenon “orthosomnia.”

Rather than getting frustrated with your sleep, first start by realizing and accepting that not every night will be perfect. By setting consistent and healthy sleep routines, you can get back on track quickly. Good sleep starts the minute you wake up, so it’s important to consider how you can use technology to support healthy sleep throughout your day.

A good indicator of whether you’re getting enough quality sleep is how you’re functioning when you’re awake and how you feel. Tools like Fitbit Premium’s Sleep Profile and Daily Readiness Score provide data on your sleep trends over time and what your body really needs to function at its best, so one “off night” doesn’t derail your whole day. From there, look for ways to make small improvements that could have a big impact, like starting a mindfulness session in Fitbit Premium for a restorative break during the day.