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What to Do if You Have Trouble Sleeping in Your New Home

Young man checking smartphone at bed
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The average person spends about 37% of their day sleeping, but about 70 million Americans still suffer from chronic sleep problems. And in the chaos of moving, good sleep is often one of the first things to go. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the most common sleep issues affecting movers, along with some ways you can prevent them. 

Sleep problems that affect movers

Moving into a new home has a major impact on every part of your life, and sleep is no exception. Here are some common sleep problems you may face after your move:  

Adjustment insomnia

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), adjustment insomnia is a type of short-term insomnia that is “usually caused by a source of stress and tends to last for only a few days or weeks.” Other symptoms include trouble concentrating, fatigue, and mood swings.

First-night effect 

No matter how tired you are from moving, you still probably won’t get the best sleep on your first night in your new home. Researchers at Brown University found that sleep is often noticeably worse during the first night in a new place, with areas of the brain remaining more active throughout the night and more likely to wake up because of noises. 

The good news is that this only lasts one night in most cases, although some people may take longer to get used to sleeping in a new bedroom. 

Added stress

It’s well known that moving is one of the most stressful life events that a person can experience. Stress, in turn, has a negative impact on the quality of our sleep. 43% of Americans reported that stress caused them to lie awake at night in the previous month. One consequence of that bad sleep is greater stress, which can create a vicious “sleep-stress cycle.” 

Back pain

Moving often involves a lot of heavy lifting, and if you’re not using proper technique, it’s easy to strain the muscles in your back. One way to help ease back pain is to sleep with a lumbar roll under your back or a pillow between your legs if you’re a side sleeper. Experts recommend avoiding sleeping on your stomach, as this can exacerbate back pain. 

Creating a positive sleep routine

Unfortunately, there isn’t one quick “hack” to better sleep. It requires a well-rounded approach that touches all aspects of your life. Here are the key habits recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule: Get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends and vacations. 
  • Set a bedtime: Go to bed early enough to get at least seven hours of sleep. Use the AASM’s bedtime calculator to see when you should be turning in. 
  • Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy: While it’s important to stick to a sleep schedule, lying in bed when you’re not ready to fall asleep can actually wake you up even more. 
  • If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up: Get out of bed and do a quiet activity without a lot of light. It’s best to avoid electronics altogether.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex: The idea is that you’re training your brain to use the bed as a cue for sleep. The more you do things like reading or looking at your phone in bed, the more it will turn into a cue for wakefulness. 
  • Optimize your bedroom for sleep: Aim for a cooler room (research suggests 65°F for most people), clean up any clutter before going to bed, and keep soft lights like a flashlight nearby in case you need to get up in the middle of the night.
  • Put away the electronics: All kinds of light suppress melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep, but blue light affects it most powerfully. Avoiding your phone, computer, or TV for 30 minutes before bed is effective for improving sleep
  • Don’t eat before bed: Try to eat bigger meals two to three hours before bedtime. If you’re hungry at night, eat a lighter snack before bed. 
  • Exercise regularly: Aerobic exercise, or “cardio,” has been shown to increase the amount of deep sleep you get. 
  • Eat a healthy diet: Complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat toast or oatmeal can trigger the release of the sleepy hormone serotonin, along with lean proteins, and unsaturated fats.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can disrupt your sleep. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon. While alcohol consumption may help you go to sleep initially, it has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. 

Mattresses that help with sleep

Experts generally recommend replacing your mattress every six to 10 years, but there are a number of factors that affect that range. High quality memory foam mattresses last between 10 and 15 years, while cheaper foam and innerspring beds may start to decline after about five years. 

No matter what kind of mattress you have, rotating it a couple times a year will help extend its lifespan. 
If you think it’s time for a new mattress, check out some models that have earned high ratings from the testers at the Slumber Yard.

Gadgets that help with falling asleep

Even with the right mattress and sleep routine, falling (and staying) asleep may still be a challenge. These devices help with a variety of issues related to getting good sleep.

Sunrise alarm clock

If you find a traditional alarm clock jolting and unpleasant, a sunrise clock can help make the transition to the waking hours a little smoother. The Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light works by artificially simulating the sunrise in your bedroom. It offers a variety of settings, including sunrise and sunset brightness levels, nature sounds to wake up to, and even one that lets you use it as a bedside lamp. 

Cooling pad

One of the most common roadblocks to good sleep is staying cool. Unlike other mattress toppers, the Cool Care Technologies Cooling Pad measures at just 43.4 x 27.6 inches, and is designed for a single person to use. It’s pressure activated, so lying on it is enough to start the cooling process in the pad’s gel beads. After about three hours of cooling, it will need to “recharge” for 30 minutes.

Noise-canceling earbuds

Whether it’s loud neighbors, traffic, or a snoring bedmate, a noisy environment is one of the most common problems keeping people up at night. The Bose Sleepbuds 2 are engineered to help you get a better night’s sleep. 

They don’t play music or podcasts — instead they connect to the Bose sleep app, which delivers soothing sounds to help you drift off. The Sleepbuds also have Bose’s noise-masking technology, which plays sounds consistently at the optimal level to hide unwanted noise.

Sleep sounds for kids

If your kids are having trouble falling asleep in their new bedrooms, one great option is to use a relaxing sound machine. This model from Exelme provides eight different sounds like campfire, sea waves, and rain. It also doubles as a projector with ocean waves visuals in seven different lighting modes. You can even use it to stream your own music or soothing sounds. 

Oura Ring

If you’re looking for the most accurate way to track your sleep, it’s a good idea to invest in some hardware. The Oura ring detects body signals through the arteries in your finger and provides second-by-second data on everything from heart rate to body temperature. Oura then turns this information into actionable insights that help you optimize your sleep cycle.

Sleep apps that help with falling asleep

In addition to the gadgets listed above, there are a number of apps that promise to help you get a good night’s sleep. Here are a few of the apps that have received high ratings and reviews from testers:

  • Sleep Cycle: The Sleep Cycle app comes loaded with features, and is generally thought of as the most comprehensive sleep app out there. In addition to music, meditations, and stories to help you fall asleep, it also listens to your sounds to help analyze the quality of your sleep. These results are then presented in easy-to-understand graphs and insights to help you improve your sleep quality. 
  • Calm: One of the most popular meditation apps around, Calm also includes an array of tools designed to help you get to sleep. It has dozens of sleep stories for both kids and adults, and they’re often read by celebrities like Harry Styles and Matthew McConaughey. You can also train for better sleep with Calm’s guided meditation series. 
  • Pillow: Unlike many other sleep apps, Pillow uses the sensors on your Apple Watch, iPhone, or iPad to track your sleep. It gives you the usual sleep analysis and recommendations, but Pillow also comes with some thoughtful extras like an alarm that gently eases you into the morning based on your sleep state.
  • Somryst: If you’re suffering from insomnia, Somryst uses proven cognitive behavioral therapy methods to help improve your sleep. The app has six lessons that help you reset your sleep habits, and you have nine weeks to complete them. Unlike other sleep apps, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor to use Somryst or complete a telemedicine appointment with one of Somryst’s sleep specialists.
  • Noisli: There are a number of apps and websites that will play white noise while you sleep, but Noisli stands out for its wide selection of sounds, and its ability to mix and match to create your perfect sleep soundtrack. Noisli also provides 16 sounds and an hour and a half of daily streaming for free.

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