Sleep seems so easy. What’s simpler than something our bodies do naturally? Except, sometimes getting good sleep doesn’t feel simple at all. Deep, restorative, intentional sleep is crucial to performing at our best. And to know if you’re getting good sleep, a tracker, like the Sleep.com app, can provide vital, of-the-moment feedback.
We asked three people at the very top of their fields — our Sleep Guides on the Unjunk Your Sleep Team — to track their sleep for a week using the new Sleep.com app. Not surprisingly, our Sleep Guides got better rest as the week went on and they figured out what was and wasn’t helping them get good rest. And: Because sometimes it’s best to bring in a professional, Sleep Advisors Dr. Chris Winter and Jade Wu, Ph.D., offered feedback to each of our guides. Here’s what they had to say about how Sleep Guides Terry Adams and Andrea Drummer can continue waking up rested, ready, and with a top-notch SleepScore™ each morning.
What a week of SleepScores taught flatland BMX pro Terry Adams
Here’s the thing about being a 38-year-old professional athlete: Good rest is now non-negotiable. That’s even more true if, like professional athlete Terry Adams, your sport is flatland BMX. Adams spends hours each day defying gravity as he flips, spins, and whips his bike around. He relies on coordination, balance, physical strength, and aerobic capacity — all of which are deeply impacted by a lack of rest — to keep him on the winner’s podium and out of the local emergency room.
But knowing you need good sleep and actually getting it are two different things. Terry spent a week tracking the quality of his sleep using the Sleep.com app, charting peaks and valleys. Here’s what happened — and what the experts think he can improve going forward.
Night 1 - Let there be light (but not too much)
The SleepScore: 53
The problem: After two weeks without power post-Hurricane Ida, Terry’s power blinked back on that night.
The expert’s take: It’s jarring when power comes surging back into your house, says Dr. Chris Winter, Sleep Advisor and neurologist. Not only does it jolt you awake when the lights all come on, but you’re tempted to check your emails and log on to devices that were previously dead. The blue light those devices emit can make it hard to get back to sleep.
Night 2 – Hello, old friend
The SleepScore: 63
The problem: Restless leg syndrome
The expert’s take: “Restless leg syndrome can be extremely disruptive,” says Winter. For some people, regular exercise can help. But Terry is already doing that, and yet, he’s still struggling. Other options that might help include trying a weighted blanket, or experimenting with a magnesium supplement, says Winter.
Night 3 -Solar power
The SleepScore: 92
The win: Exercise and time in the sunshine
The expert’s take: “Being outside on a sunny day means that, when you come inside, your body has a clear marker of, ‘okay, that was daytime, now it’s time to sleep,’” says Winter. That shift helps your body start producing melatonin, which can help us nod off quickly at night.
Night 6 – Peace, man
The Win: Daily meditation practice
The Expert’s Take: “We talk a lot about mechanisms and activities that get us pumped up, but we don’t really talk a lot about what we need to do for the opposite,” says Winter. Meditation is a powerful tool that can help us quiet the mind. “I like that he’s willing to engage in meditation as a way of helping him get better rest.”
Chef Andrea Drummer Serves Up High Sleep Scores With Good Habits
The chef lifestyle is not always conducive to getting good rest. But chef Andrea Drummer, who specializes in cooking with cannabis, is firmly committed to putting her well-being first. Her health, after all, is what started her on her cannabis journey.
Andrea tracked her sleep for one week using the Sleep.com app. Even though she was traveling and staying in hotels for much of her sleep tracking week, Andrea was able to learn a lot about what helps her get good rest, and what might be holding her back.
Night 2 – Beach bum
The SleepScore: 71
The Win: Soothing ocean noises
The Expert’s Take: Some people find sleeping in hotels difficult. However, for people who struggle with insomnia, like Andrea, hotels can often lead to better sleep, says Jade Wu, Ph.D., behavioral sleep medicine specialist and Sleep.com Sleep Advisor. That’s because our beds are often tied up with the feelings of not being able to sleep. Hotel beds don’t have all that baggage. “And the ocean sounds, I think that bodes really well for her getting good scores all week. The relaxation of being on vacation, that made me really happy for her,” says Wu. In other words: You deserve the rest of a vacation.
Night 5 – Eat, pray, love (then sleep)
The SleepScore: 91
The Win: Mental Preparedness
The Expert’s Take: Andrea did — according to her — everything wrong. She went out with her sisters and ate things she normally doesn’t allow herself to eat. And, she still managed to get good rest. In some ways, that doesn’t surprise Wu. Sometimes, people with insomnia are literally trying too hard to sleep. When Andrea let go and let herself relax, she got great rest.
Night 6 - Woosah
The SleepScore: 56
The Problem: An Early Wakeup
The Expert’s Take: For people with insomnia, it may be important to not obsessively check your SleepScore every night. Worrying too much about how you’re sleeping can actually make it even harder to fall asleep, says Wu. On a night with an early wakeup that is already causing you anxiety, turn off the app and just let yourself get whatever sleep you can.
Night 7 – Tomorrow's a new day
The SleepScore: 92
The Win: A Productive Day
The Expert’s Take: The change in a SleepScore from a 56 to a 92 is proof that one bad night doesn’t mean you’ll continue to struggle with sleep. Andrea had a busy day, she got her diet and exercise back on track, and a great SleepScore followed. “It’s important to listen to your body,” says Wu, adding that Andrea is clearly very good at focusing in on what works for her. And: It’s important to make time for relaxation. Wu did not think it was a coincidence that Andrea’s best score came after a restful week at the beach.