Sleep Languages: What They Are And How They Can Help You Get Better Rest

“What’s your love language?” is a question you’ve probably heard, and maybe even asked a partner or friend. But, what about your sleep language?

Sleep languages, while not a clinical diagnosis or a term you’ll hear from your doctor, are a helpful way to understand your sleep patterns, and, hopefully, get better rest. The concept was developed by Dr. Shelby Harris, a clinical sleep psychologist in New York, and Calm, which is known for its meditation programs and sleep tips.

So, there are five [sleep] languages, and it doesn’t mean that you’re beholden to one at any time; you can kind of go between some of them, or you might change throughout time,” Harris told HuffPost.

When developing these sleep languages, Harris said, she wanted people to think about their sleep and their sleep issues in a way that is not overwhelming.

The sleep languages (which are detailed below) are easy ways to determine your sleep preferences and problems.

There are 5 sleep languages:

The ‘Words of Worry Sleeper’

“The first is the words of worry sleeper, that one I see all the time, so that’s the person that reports that they’re anxious at night, that their brain is racing and they can’t fall asleep or they wake up early in the morning with a really racing brain,” said Harris.

She added that she saw a huge spike in this kind of sleeper at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘Gifted Sleeper’

Have you ever used the phrase “I’m a really good sleeper?” If so, you may fall into the gifted sleeper category.

And while this may be a good thing, Harris said it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying issue.

“[The gifted sleeper is] also the person who … if they’re falling asleep anywhere at any point and they can sleep through anything, we want to start thinking: Is it almost too gifted? That maybe there’s some sleep apnea or something else going on that’s impacting the quality of their sleep?” she said.

This may not always be the case, but if you are able to fall asleep instantly and in a variety of situations, it could be a sign that your body is not getting the rest it needs overnight.

The ‘Too Hot To Handle Sleeper’

The name “too hot to handle sleeper” is pretty self-explanatory, but this kind of sleeper is someone who overheats at night.

Many things can cause someone to be a hot sleeper, but Harris said perimenopause and menopause are common culprits.

The ‘Light As A Feather Sleeper’

“The light as a feather sleeper, that’s the person who is restless, they might sleep OK or sleep enough, but it’s very broken sleep,” Harris said.

Signs of this include frequently waking up tired despite going to bed in time to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep.

The ‘Routine Perfectionist Sleeper’

According to Harris, the routine perfectionist sleeper is someone who often has some sleep anxiety and tends to be pretty obsessive about their sleep hygiene.

“Some people take it to the point where it’s almost too much,” she said. For example, this person may not travel out of fear of sleep disruptions or won’t have a glass of wine with friends for the same reason.

Dr. Shelby Harris developed five sleep languages based on what she sees in her work as a clinical sleep psychologist.

Sergey Mironov via Getty Images

Dr. Shelby Harris developed five sleep languages based on what she sees in her work as a clinical sleep psychologist.

Knowing your sleep language can help identify obstacles to getting your Zs.

“This is a great jumping-off point for people to say, ‘Where do I go from here?’” said Harris.

But if you are struggling with your sleep, seek out a sleep doctor for help. Your restless nights could be the result of a sleep disorder, for which there are evidence-based treatments, Harris said.

You want to find a board-certified sleep specialist, Harris said. You can find provider databases through the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine or the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

And remember that these sleep languages are not a clinical diagnosis. Instead, think of them as a way to understand your behavior.

“You can kind of see where you might fall and target your sleep treatments toward that,” Harris said.

It’s also helpful to know some fundamental sleep advice.

“When discussing improved health with my patients, the main points I hit on are the aim for a consistent bedtime and sleep schedule,” said Dr. Beth Oller, a family physician based in Kansas. “Regardless of whether it is a weekend or not.”

Harris added that you do not need to go to bed and wake up at the exact same time every day, but try to keep it within a one-hour range.

Oller noted that a dark bedroom is ideal for sleep, as is a cold room.

Additionally, don’t look at your phone while you’re trying to fall asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night.

“If you find yourself driven to check your phone every time you wake up or roll over, then place it across the room where you would have to get up to check it,” Oller said.

Fitness and time outside can also aid sleep, she noted.

And, remember, sleep is very important for overall health.

“Sleep affects every process of our body,” said Oller.

Beyond having an impact on how we feel the next day, sleep is connected to all aspects of our health.

“Getting consistent good sleep has a link to improved mental health, better metabolism regulation, lower risk of heart disease — getting adequate sleep each night lets our body’s blood pressure decrease and regulate — lower inflammation throughout the body and [strengthen] our immune system,” Oller noted.

Conversely, not getting enough sleep can negatively impact our memory and concentration, she noted.

A sleep-deprived driver has the same delayed response time as someone who is legally drunk, something I frequently remind patients of,” Oller said.

“I often describe sleep as the time our brain and body has to repair,” she said.

In other words, follow the tips above or work with a sleep specialist to ensure you are getting the rest you need.

Do you have trouble sleeping because you’re a hot sleeper? It’s a common issue. Below are products our Shopping team has rounded up to help.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.


An oscillating fan to keep your room cool

The Pelonis 40-inch oscillating tower fan saves me every summer and its narrow design makes it perfect for small spaces. It has three pre-set modes: natural, which mimics the less-predictable rhythm of an outdoor breeze; sleep, which starts off strong and slows down gradually as you drift off; and normal, which is, well, normal. It also has three intensity settings (low, middle, and high), along with an “eco” energy-saving setting. It also comes with a battery-operated remote control (just remember to buy your own batteries, since they aren’t included).

Promising review: “Using this fan in my bedroom and it has been GREAT! Much quieter than old style floor fan and the ECO and sleep modes work very well. There’s all types of bells and whistles on this fan, but so far each feature has been great. My sleep quality has definitely improved since the air circulation is more evenly distributed and I don’t have to constantly adjust the fan. The fan is not loud; just a low enough hum. But, I’ve always liked the white noise of a fan. I’m also dealing with the occasional hot flashes, so this fan is plus. I absolutely won’t be able to go back to a window or circle oscillation fan. I’m a tower fan convert.” — ALA


A lightweight down alternative comforter

Brooklinen offers its top-rated down comforter in a variety of weights, including a summer-friendly lightweight option that features down cluster fill with a cotton sateen shell that is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. It comes in twin to California king.

Promising review: “This comforter is like a cloud. Never have I ever been more excited to get into bed. I bought it because I run hot when I sleep and I have no regrets. I was worried that my 20 lb weighted blanket and 80 lb couch potato dog would depress the filling, but it survived the test and is still as wondrously fluffy as when I first unpacked it.” — Andrea K.


A tumbler to keep at your bedside

If you often wake up in the middle of the night feeling parched, you may want to add an insulated tumbler to your nightstand. This stylish 40-ounce bottle comes with a straw lid to prevent spills and keeps your beverages cold all night. It comes in several colors, including pink, green, black, mauve and white.

Promising review: “Just as pretty as the trending brand’s style. I got the sea glass sage color and it is the perfect muted color. Keeps my iced drinks super cold all day (and all night—it’s the perfect bedside table cup!). It fits in my car’s cup holders too! It checks all my boxes and is a major win for the price!” — Kelsey


A cooling memory foam pillow

Tempur-Pedic’s Tempur-Cloud Breeze dual cooling pillow has a gel layer on both sides to promote cool sleeping and is made of pressure-relieving materials that provide comfort for your neck, head and shoulders.

Promising review:
“LOVE this pillow! I get sooo hot at night and have had to always flip my pillows several times a night! This pillow keeps me cool ALL night! I’m mostly a stomach and side sleeper and it is soft enough to do that; but it also is firm enough when I’m on my back reading or watching TV! Highly recommend!!!” — Paul Gandy


A cooling blanket

This double-sided blanket uses Japanese Arc-Chill technology to absorb body heat to keep sleepers cool throughout the night. It comes in several colors, including beige, blue, dark gray, green and pink and from sizes 51 inches by 67 inches to 90 inches by 108 inches.

Promising review: “My girlfriend is a werewolf, and she radiates heat like a nuclear reactor. She sleeps with a very small cheap anime throw blanket, the central a/c at 60, and a fan full blast that could make a tornado change direction – and yet she is still hot. Then I got her this blanket and today I woke up with the fan at only half power and I could actually feel my face, she sleeps so soundly and comfortably and doesn’t heat up as much. The silky side retains a pretty constant cool feeling throughout the night and just feels really great. Overall, If you’re a hot sleeper, this is the one. Highly recommend.” — Emil Novoa


A set of cooling eucalyptus sheets

Sijo’s hypoallergenic eucalyptus sheets are perfect for hot sleepers as they’re ultra-soft and cooling. The set includes one fitted sheet, two pillowcases and the option to add a flat sheet. They come in seven colors: green, white, cream, pink, light gray, dark gray and blue in sizes twin to California king.

Promising review: “This is the only sheet/duvet set I’ve ever found that ACTUALLY cools you down. I usually sleep so hot, but with this set I wake up not sweaty for the first time ever.” — Dylan W.


A pair of blackout curtains

Keep out the sun’s heat while you sleep with these thermal insulated blackout curtains. They come in several colors, including gray, pink, red, navy blue and taupe and sizes up to 52 inches by 95 inches.

Promising review: “We are having a heat wave, and these do a great job of blocking out the heat from the sun. They block out most of the light. I will probably buy more of these for other windows that I am using different coverings on. We are staying cool, and saving money on the electric bill!” — Amazon customer


A breathable coverlet for summer sleeping

Coverlets are typically constructed with breathable cotton, making them an ideal choice for bedding in warm months instead of heavier comforters. This delightfully textured Riley cotton coverlet comes in several colors including yellow, lavender, green, red and black. It’s made of 100% cotton and comes in twin to California king.

Promising review: “This blanket is perfect for sleeping in a hot climate like Texas. It’s soft and comfortable, and works well for layering.” — Tristin H.


A BedJet cooling and warming system

It’s rare to find a sleeping accessory that benefits both hot and cold sleepers, but this BedJet climate control system does just that. It uses funneled ventilation to automatically adjust the temperature in your bed for each hour of the night. You can still use your own sheets other bedding that you already have or use the BedJet sheets that are specifically designed to distribute more air from the funnel. You can also get on-demand cooling or heating thanks to the included remote control. It works on all bed and mattress sizes.

Promising review: “I get extremely hot when I sleep to the point of sweating and it’s gotten to be almost a daily thing. For the last few years, I had been sleeping on top of my comforter with only a small blanket because I would get too hot sleeping under a comforter. When even that began to feel too hot during the summer, I got the bed jet to cool my bed and now I can comfortably sleep under a comforter and still remain cool. One of the best purchases I have ever made.” — Janet Clark


A set of bamboo pajamas

This bamboo pajama set is perfect for hot sleepers because it’s moisture-wicking and breathable for a cool night’s sleep. It comes in multiple colors, including gray, pink, purple, blue, black and red and in women’s sizes S-4X.

Promising review: “I can’t say enough about these PJs! I’ve told a lot of ppl about them and I’ve purchased several different styles for myself! These pjs are super soft, cooling, and lightweight. I run hot in the night and these pjs have helped with the night sweats and uncomfortable stickiness.” — Bonny B


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