The Secrets to Getting a Goodnight Sleep

The first step in taking care of yourself this year is to rest easy.

Plus: Take time for you in 2011

Choose the right pillow.

Choose the right firmness for your preferred sleep position. Side sleepers need firm support, medium is just right for back sleepers, while stomach sleepers require a softer pillow. Synthetic is best for allergy sufferers. Shopping for down? Check the fill power - the volume an ounce of down takes up. Higher fill power equates to better insulation.

The Mattress matters.

Keep in mind that a mattress is designed to work with its matching box spring. If you buy a mattress separately, it may feel different than it did at the store, or even affect the warranty.

After five to seven years of nightly use, it may be time to evaluate whether your mattress still provides the support and comfort you need. If it shows visible sagging or lumps, or if you awake feeling stiff, you may need to replace your mattress. Look for a set that makes you feel cradled yet supported, paying special attention to your shoulders, hips, and lower back.

Pay attention to sheets.

Good sheets are an investment, so be sure to care properly for them. Use a mild, natural detergent and dry on low heat, or line dry if possible. Avoid bleach, which can break down fibers over time.

The way a sheet is woven is another important factor to consider. Cotton percale has a clean, crisp finish, while cotton sateen has a more fluid, satiny texture. Flannel has a soft nap to it that many people like for winter use.

Read the full article for more sleep tips.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.