The pace of present day society is one that is constantly on the go. “Free” moments are no longer “free”. We fill every minute, even bathroom breaks, with checking emails, Facebook and our Instagram feeds. It’s no wonder that when it comes time to switch off, we are wired and unable to slow down.
Changing these hard-wired habits is an article for another day, but if they are affecting your sleep, keep reading. We have put together 10 workable tips that you can introduce into your life to help you improve your sleep routine.
Get the Right Mattress
Depending on your unique sleeping style, you should choose a mattress where you get the correct spinal support. Back sleepers, side sleepers or stomach sleepers should consider picking out the best fit for them. If you suffer from a sleeping disorder, like Sleep Apnea, you should consider a bed or pillows that offer the optimum elevated head position. If you need help, WellWorthLiving has some great tips for finding the ideal combination and ensuring your bedroom gets that luxury hotel feel that will have you sleeping like a baby.
At the risk of sounding like a Mattress Salesman, a good mattress is key to a good night’s sleep. It can be a pricy investment, but considering you spend so much time on it, it’s money well spent and the lack of quality sleep can cost you so much more.
Device Free Nightstand
Okay, this is an obvious one, but something we overlook and justify for a multitude of reasons.
Bright light in our environment, signals our brains to stay alert. When it’s time for bed, light dims, and our brain adjusts to the darkening environment. By looking at your phone or TV screen, you receive a hit of concentrated light directly to the brain, resulting in keeping you awake for much longer.
Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone that you need to fall asleep, as well as maintain a healthy sleep pattern throughout the night. Blue light, which is emitted by phones and other devices, is a powerful suppressor of melatonin. Devices like laptops and phones have a high concentration of blue light which suppresses melatonin for about twice as long as natural light.
“But…”, I hear you say, “I unwind by enjoying a late-night Netflix session, or scrolling through Instagram on my phone.” Hmm. We all know how one quick episode or 15 short minutes can turn into all night binge sessions. If quality sleep is what you’re after, shut off those devices, and go to sleep.
Improve Air Quality
In the winter months, we are prone to keeping windows shut, so ventilation is not at its best. Often times, indoor air pollution can be more toxic than outside air. Research shows the air in your bedroom can be 4 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside.
Factoring in that you spend 8 or more hours in your bedroom breathing that very air, it is essential that the air is clean to support a restful night’s sleep. Poor air quality can disrupt sleep by causing sleep interruptions and aggravate conditions like allergies or asthma. The resulting restless sleep will leave you waking up tired and cranky.
To fix this problem, make sure your room gets adequate ventilation. Change bedding and pillows regularly, and don’t allow pets to sleep in your bed. Using a high quality air filter that removes pollen, dust and other pollutants from the air, will bring huge relief.
Add Some Bedroom Plants
Garden Mum or Chrysanthemums, are known as one of the most effective indoor plants when it comes to removing pollutants from the air. It helps improve your breathing by recycling and cleansing stale air. There are several sleep-friendly plants, including Snake Plant, Jasmine and Aloe Vera, which will breathe new life into your bedroom and they look beautiful at the same time.
Maintain an Even Temperature
The body follows a 24-hour cycle that controls sleep and other body functions, this is called the circadian rhythm, and it is regulated by fluctuations in internal body temperature.
The ideal temperature for good sleep is a cool 65°F (18.5°C). If you can set a thermostat, then you will be able to control and maintain this ideal climate. But, if you don’t have the luxury of an AC, then you should adjust your sheets and blankets seasonally to ensure you are not overheating or getting too cold.
You can also regulate your body temperature by wearing breathable clothing and avoiding bedding or mattresses that tend to trap heat.
If street or city lights are keeping you up, blackout curtains will help create that cozy dark bedroom environment that supports a quality sleep.
They also have the added benefit of reducing energy costs. Draw curtains in summer to block out the heat of the day, and in winter, they keep out the cold, thereby reducing your heating bill.
Thick Carpets to Dampen Sound
Carpets are excellent sound absorbers. If you have wooden, tiled or laminated flooring, add a floor rug to not only add plushness, but to ensure you are not disturbed by creaks and footsteps if your partner or kids gets in and out of bed at different times to you. If noisy neighbors are an issue, carpets can reduce sound by up to 34 decibels (roughly equivalent to a humming refrigerator).
Blackout curtains will provide even more insulation. Along with blocking out light and heat, they also reduce noise effectively.
Calming Scents like Lavender
The scent of lavender in a room, or even just a dab of lavender oil on your pillow, will help you fall asleep easier. A study done at Southampton University, England, reported that lavender can increase your sleep quality by up to 20%.
Lavender has calming and soothing properties that can help reduce stress and improve sleep. Research that monitored sleep cycles using brain scans, found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep which is essential in slowing the heart rate and relaxing muscles. An easy way to introduce it into your bedtime routine, is to pick up a lavender scented spray, burn incense, or add a few drops of lavender oil to your bath just before bedtime.
Diet & Insulin Resistance
Did you know that a lack of quality sleep can create and worsen insulin resistance? Likewise, the reverse is also true. Insulin resistance can in turn affect your sleep.
How does that work exactly? Poor sleep results in blood sugar levels being out of balance. Lack of sleep increases your cortisol, which is a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands. With the release of cortisol, your body’s natural response is to release glucose, which in turn, increases insulin production. This ripple effect puts strain on the heart, so long term sleep issues should be treated seriously, as they can affect your health and shorten your life span.
A balanced diet is fundamental in supporting better sleep. Potassium, calcium and magnesium are 3 minerals that are found in vegetables and are natures natural tranquilizers. They help the body switch off and relax, preparing you for a bedtime. Absorption of these essential minerals improves as your insulin levels regulate.
Take a Walk
Yes, that’s right. Walking helps you sleep. Well, technically, any exercise will help you sleep better, but walking is easy and most of us can do. It’s a relaxing activity for both body and mind.
The Sleep Foundation found that test subjects who did moderate exercise, i.e. walking, fell asleep faster than candidates that did high aerobic exercise or, nothing at all. The benefits of walking in the morning are much higher that later in the day, but as long as you get it a relaxing stroll, you’re set for a good night. Plus, walking helps reduce anxiety and forces us to get our heads out of our phones and computer screens.
Applying these tips should make a marked improvement in your bedtime routine. Avoid over the counter drugs to help you sleep and restore your natural sleep rhythm. Few things beat a great night of restorative sleep, that leaves you energized and ready to face a new day.
Bianca believes that the pursuit of happiness is the most important thing in life. Her family is her everything, and her purpose it to live the fullest life possible, making every moment an adventure. The realization that the only limits we have are the ones we put on ourselves, keeps her pushing forward and breaking out of her comfort zone.
I think getting a good night’s sleep is so important. Do you have anything to add to this list? I’ve read that spending time outdoors (walking, or just being) will also help you feel calm, and lead to a good night’s sleep. And the self-control to turn off NetFlix is hard to cultivate, but totally worth the hard work. Plus the shows will still be there tomorrow!
Share your sleep routine tips with us in the comments!