Test Your Sleep IQ
Getty Images By now, we all know that sleep has major health benefits. Everything from mood to memory is affected by the quality of your slumber. Take our quiz to find out the best type of pillows, sleeping positions, and more, to help you get a better night's sleep.
1. Which of these sleep items actually exists?
A. Vegan mattresses
B. Blankets that change color when you're feeling relaxed
C. Scarves that convert into pillows
D. All of the above
Yep, they're real. Organic and vegan mattresses have become a thing, as has the Sleeper Scarf, with its built-in blow-up neck pillow ($65; sleeperscarf.com). British Airways' mood blankets are in the product-development stageÂ—the airline is hoping the blankets will give it a heads-up on how chilled-out passengers are. Kind of creepy, no?
2. A pet in your bed:
Comforting sleep friend
Answer: Sorry, Snookums.
A whopping 63 percent of people who shared a bed with a pet for more than four nights a week experienced poor sleep, according to new research from the University of Kansas. "You would be surprised by how many patients who co-sleep with Fido tell us their pet wakes them up, but they won't move it off the bedÂ—let alone out of the room," says sleep expert Steven M. Scharf, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. Lock the bedroom door and hold strong, even if whimpering ensues; within a few days, your pet should adapt.
3. Which dinner could disrupt your sleep?
A rich meal (like pasta with Alfredo sauce)
A super spicy meal (like flaming hot wings)
Answer: The spicy food
A heavy meal might cause indigestion before bed, but research suggests that eating spicy food will make you spend less time in both the light and deep phases of sleep. The spices may affect the cooling process your body goes through at bedtime, throwing your sleep cycle off. So have those wings mild.
4. Which is the best sleep position?
Conking out on your back puts your head, neck and spine in a neutral position, which provides you with good support, explains Steven Diamant, DC, a chiropractor in New York City. The only people for whom back-sleeping isn't ideal: snorers. If you sound like a freight train, consider rolling onto your side.
5. Which is the best kind of pillow for a good night's sleep?
A. Firm and contoured
B. Feathery and flat
C. Either is fine
Your perfect pillow: One that fills the gap between your head and neckÂ—overly soft pillows don't provide adequate support. And mattress texture doesn't affect quality of sleep, experts say; all that matters is that it feels comfortable.
6. The number of pillows the typical American uses when sleeping:
The good news: There's no harm in two, if you like the extra support. But if you tend to stack old, flattened pillows? That's a different story. They could be full of dust mites, mold, dead skin cells and fungi, which can cause your allergies and sinus issues to rage. It may be hard to say good-bye, but you'll sleep better for it.
7. Match the celebrity to her sleep wisdom.
A. Halle Berry
C. Mindy Kaling
D. Christina Aguilera
1. "If you are active during your day, you will be so exhausted you can't help but fall asleep."
2. "I love to sleep. When I'm rested, I'm at my best."
3. "People spend money on beauty potions, but a good night's rest makes all the difference."
4. "I have the sleep patterns of a 12-year-old boy, so I could sleep until 2 in the afternoon."
Answer: A: 2; B: 1; C: 4; D, 3
8. Which drink may help you nod off faster?
A. Green smoothie
B. Cherry juice
C. Coconut water
"Tart cherry juice has melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and there's some evidence it can help with relaxing and falling asleep," says Shelby Harris, PsyD, a clinical psychologist board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine. "That said, guzzling the juice won't solve serious sleep disorders like chronic insomnia." Not into sour stuff? A soothing cup of herbal tea like chamomile may ease anxiety, adds Alcibiades Rodriguez, MD, assistant professor at the NYU Langone Medical Center and director of the New York Sleep Institute.
9. You're lying in bed and can't fall asleep. Which mental trick should you do?
A. Count sheep
B. Imagine a scenic landscape
C. Neither is effective
Although your mom may have suggested the sheep remedy, scientists from Oxford University found that the technique didn't help people pass out any fasterÂ—perhaps because it's so darn tedious. What did work: picturing calming scenery like a beach or a trickling stream. Folks who did just that fell asleep 20 minutes sooner. Find your go-to happy place next time you're having trouble nodding off.
10. True or false: You sleep less during a full moon.
People log 20 to 25 fewer minutes of sleep on average during a full moon than on nights with a quarter moon, according to a recent study in the journal Current Biology. Although there's been some debate about this phenomenon, researchers say it's possible we have a built-in "lunar clock" that regulates our daily rhythms, similar to our circadian clock.
11. What is wrong with this picture?
Answer: Joe Biden is clearly burning the candle at both ends. Yes, he's also helping to run the country. But experts say a whole lot of us are guilty of skimping on shut-eye. "Most people think they need only five to six hours of sleep to function, but they really need seven to nine," say Meir Kryger, MD, professor at the Yale School of Medicine and author of The iGuide to Sleep. Superhuman you're not; consider sleep a necessity rather than a luxury.
12. Rank these pre-bed activities from best at relaxing you to worst.
B. Watching a show you love
C. Taking a hot bath
Answer: D, A, B, C
A light stretch wins at putting your body in a peaceful state. "Many of my patients have a lot of success with doing very gentle relaxation stretching and deep-breathing exercises before bed," Harris says. Try the Happy Baby yoga pose to Zen outÂ—lie on your back, bend your knees into your chest and grab the outsides of your feet with your hands. Keep your feet flexed as you rock gently from side to side for 10 breaths. As for the other activities: Books may relax a busy mind (as long as they're not thrillers), but the light from the TV can keep your body in awake mode. And surprise! A hot bath is not a good sleep aid, because it warms your body when it needs to cool down for sleep. Take one at least two hours prior to bed so you have time to chill.
IF YOU GOT...
1 TO 4 ANSWERS CORRECT
Wake-up call: Some of your habits may be harming your slumber. Now get to bed, ladies.
5 TO 8 ANSWERS CORRECT
Eye-opening: While you know a good deal about maximizing shut-eye, you could stand (or lie down!) to put some tips to use.
9 TO 12 ANSWERS CORRECT
Master of sleep: Congrats on your expertiseÂ—you have the know-how to get the z's you need. Catch you on the flip side!