Sleep is the cornerstone for everything that is life. Work, play, relaxation… it all comes down to sleep and whether you’re getting enough, getting too much, or just the right amount. If you find yourself in one of the first 2 categories, give these tips for a good night’s sleep a try.
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Why is Sleep Important?
Sleep plays a role in everything from health to wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep can lead to depression, obesity, heart problems, and impaired immunity.
Too much sleep can lead to sluggishness, memory issues, an increase in the risk of diabetes, and increased pain.
These are just a sample of health and social issues that can arise when sleep needs are not met.
Sleep is where the magic happens. When you sleep your body repairs damage, restores balance, and synthesizes hormones essential to normal functions.
Without sleep, we’re off balance, off-kilter and overall off our game.
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
While there’s a slight variance in the amount of sleep adults need, it generally fluctuates between 7 and 9 hours.
The best way to figure how much sleep you need is to monitor how you feel after getting different amounts of sleep.
If you feel groggy and disoriented during the day, you may be sleeping too much.
If you’re yawning or craving unhealthy foods more often, you may not be getting enough sleep.
What are the Secrets to the Best Sleep Ever?
There is an abundance of tips for a great night’s sleep, and the secret is finding the ones that work for you. I prefer to take a natural or holistic approach before turning to prescription sleep aids.
Pharmaceuticals can be addictive, carry adverse side effects, or stop working suddenly leaving you worse off than you were before. Of course, if lack of sleep is becoming a health issue, you should definitely talk to your doctor.
Here are the best solutions I’ve found to get the perfect amount of sleep.
Exercise as a Sleep Aid
Studies have shown that daily exercise can lead to improved sleep quality and an increase in the amount we sleep. It makes sense since exercise is essentially the burning of energy.
To make the most of using exercise as a sleep aid, try to do it early in the morning or
mid-afternoon. Exercise stimulates the mind and body, so you don’t want to do it right before you try to sleep.
Aim for a morning cardio routine and a brisk midday walk for maximum effect. If you need more incentive to sweat, just remember that exercise is a great way to get rid of stress.
Find the Right Pillows
Personally, pillows are the cornerstone of my sleep. Without the right pillows, I’m tossing and turning all night, trying to find that one comfortable position. I have a heap of pillows on my bed and they all serve a purpose.
I typically sleep with one or two pillows under my head, one under my feet, one between my calves and one or two on either side of me.
I have a mix of memory foam, fiber filled and gel pillows. They each serve a purpose, and I never skimp when choosing pillows. They are as important as a good mattress!
Just as important as the right pillows are the right pillow covers. I prefer wicking pillow slips that are soft and sleek. Feel free to experiment to find the right ones for you.
Kick Start Your Melatonin by Turning Off the Lights
Did you know? Your body secretes the hormone melatonin when it’s dark? Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps you get restful sleep.
Try dimming the lights a few hours before you plan to go to bed to kick start melatonin production. This means turning down the brightness on your screens too.
Blackout curtains and sleep masks are a great way to block street lamps and other light sources.
Experiment with Sound
Too much noise can overstimulate the senses, which is detrimental when you’re trying to fall and stay asleep. Try experimenting to find the right noise level for your perfect sleep.
Start with earplugs to mute any ambient noise.
If you find silence doesn’t help, you can try a white noise machine, rainforest sounds, or even classical music. It’s all about finding what works for you.
Thunderstorms always help me sleep so I made a thunderstorm playlist, adjust the volume to what works for me, and now it’s a permanent part my bedtime routine.
Nix the Stimulants
Caffeine and sugar are 2 major culprits when it comes to sleep issues. If you can’t bring yourself to forgo them altogether, choose a cutoff time somewhere in the mid-afternoon to just say no.
Stock up on sugar-free snacks if sweet cravings strike and be sure to drink plenty of water (But not too close to bedtime!)
Try to avoid eating or drinking anything an hour or so before you lay down for the night. If you must have something make sure it’s not so much you’ll wake up in the middle of the night having to use the bathroom.
Create a Routine… and Stick to it
The great thing about routines is that they can quickly become habits. Once you do something enough it starts to feel natural.
Once your body gets in the rhythm of your bedtime routine, it will become easier to fall and stay asleep. Here’s what my bedtime routine looks like.
Wash my face and moisturize.
Put on body lotion. (I love lavender before bed.)
Flip through a magazine or read a chapter or two from a book.
Close the curtains, turn out the lights, turn on the fan, and get my bed ready for sleep.
Some nights I’ll color or journal, others I’ll snuggle with the furries, but overall it’s pretty much the same thing each night and it works!
By the time I lay my head on the pillows, I’m relaxed and I drift off to la-la land within 15 minutes.
Adjust the Temperature
Temperature regulation is important for sleep, so try to set your thermostat a few degrees lower before you go to bed.
Our bodies generate heat at night, so we need to compensate by adjusting the temperature around us.
For me, I like my bedroom to be around 60 degrees when I’m sleeping. A little cooler is fine because I love to snuggle in my blankets.
A fan with the oscillating function is a nice addition for the bedroom and as a bonus, it can add to the white noise in the room to promote restful sleep.