Tips for an Improved Night’s Rest:
As someone who has struggled with bouts of insomnia at times, I have really learned the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Although sleep takes up a surprisingly large amount of our life here on earth (approximately 1/3rd of our time is spent sleeping!), it is vital to keep our mind and body in a peak state of functioning and performance. The science shows that sleeping well makes moments more fulfilling, and without it we can show signs of forgetfulness, moodiness, and we all know by now all the other tragic consequences of not getting enough shut eye! That being said, we can actually learn to become better at sleeping, and a big part of that process is becoming aware of what makes us so prone to transforming into night owls at times. The world around us functions during the day, and so should we.
One thing that has affected every aspect of our lives is the advent of technology. Not just the big old computers back in the day, but now the mini ones, in the palm of our hands! Many of us even sleep with our phones by our sides at night time (myself not excluded from this category). But because of our big screen TV’s, smaller screen laptops, and even smaller screen phones, we have increasingly become exposed ourselves to the bright lights emitting from the screens on these devices. Whether we’re using our technology to engage in emails, social media, TV shows, and the countless other possibilities - this is a big detractor from a good night’s sleep. Not only is the light from our screens keeping us awake, but our minds are unable to slowly wind down if we are engaged with technology in the later ours when we should be away from all of it at least one hour before bed time (especially from the games on our phones, as these create spikes in adrenaline which can keep us up even more). Thus, the first tip is to power down your phone and other devices at least an hour before bed time.
The second thing that I found helpful in my recovery from clinical insomnia (okay, that description is a bit of a stretch), is cutting out naps during the day. Getting a job (*cough, millennials), definitely helps with this one, but even then, taking a quick nap after work will be hurtful to your mission of sleeping well at night time. If you feel an urge to nap during the day it can help to do some cardiovascular activity / exercise, talk to a friend on the phone, or practically anything else to avoid taking a nap. But that being said, there is an exception to this no napping rule. This wonderful exception (because let’s face it, we all can enjoy a little power nap sometimes), is that we can take that nap for a maximum of up to 20 minutes, and it must be during the day. And if we do choose the power nap route, it must be earlier on in the day so that it is not too close to bed time.
Another tip I’ve found to be helpful for a good sleep is to not drink alcohol. Besides the obvious bonus of not having a headache and not having to nurse a hangover in the morning, cutting down alcohol consumption actually improves the quality of your sleep at night. This is because it equips your body to more easily enter what’s known as REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep), and this is the phase of sleep that is most important to feel well rested in the morning. Although alcohol actually lets you fall asleep quicker, the science dictates that the quality of your sleep will be greatly reduced, and you will not set yourself up to have a pleasant day, since not giving your body REM sleep can cause negative effects such as daytime drowsiness and poor concentration. A better and healthier option would be a warm glass of milk or chamomile tea. On that note, coffee and other drinks and foods with caffeine, are detrimental to catching those coveted ZZZs. If you are a coffee drinker, then make sure to drink it in the morning, and have a strict rule of no coffee after the clock strikes noon.
Another important tip if you struggle with sleeping well at night, is to have a comfortable mattress and pillow. This will help to relieve back pain and neck pain, which can also be a hindrance to sleeping well. You probably don’t like waking up with a stiff neck, so having your neck in a “neutral” comfortable position and on a pillow that is the right size (not too flat or overly stuffed) is important, since your pillow should be the right size to support the natural curve in your neck especially when resting on your back. Speaking of pillows, having one in between your legs while sleeping has been shown to align your hips better and stress your lower back less. This sets your body up to be relieved of some back tension while you sleep, since even mild pain can disturb the deep, restful stages of sleep. If you tend to sleep on your back, then tucking a pillow under your knees to ease the pain has shown to be effective.
If you’re still reading, you can probably use one more final tip, which is to make your room both dark and cool in temperature at night. Studies show that the most optimal temperature for your bedroom at night is around 17 to 20 degrees Celsius. When your room is completely dark, it signals to your body that it is time for bed, and for your mind to wind down. Once again this intertwines with cutting out the light around us at night, since studies have found that light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that naturally promotes sleep.
I hope these tips will help you on your journey to sleeping better at night and getting a good night’s rest! The better the quality of our sleep is, the better the quality of our experiences are while we are awake. If you want to function at your peak and have brighter days, try implementing some of these science backed ideas into your daily life and sleep routine - you will surely notice some beneficial results in time. Come check out our ultra cozy and well designed beds and bed frames. You won't want to get out of bed!