Sleep. Without it, you and I would not be sitting here comfortably, reading or writing a health-focused blog post. We would likely be struggling to function. It doesn’t take long for sleep deprivation to lead you brain to inebriation-like effects, and even longer can start to chip away at sanity. Sleep is a beautiful thing. It’s how you’ll spend up to one third of your life if you’re lucky.
So why not invest in it? Why not care about it? Why not try your best to enjoy this as much as possible? We often think of sleep as the dark distance between the progression of our days, but it can be much more than that. It can be something totally nourishing should we decide to celebrate it, and celebrate it through giving yourself the best night’s sleep possible.
The following advice will try to aim at this end. If you apply it well, you should hopefully be able to enjoy a great night’s sleep with much more regularity, and see the health effects that grow from this.
A Solid Bed Time
There’s wisdom in the things our parents teach us. One of these things that we often hate as children, yet adore as adults, is a solid bed time. Of course, your body works from a circadian rhythm, which simply means it knows how to timekeep during the day. It can be surprisingly more flexible than you might assume, but it also takes care and consideration to keep on top of. A solid bed time can help you do this. Let’s say you wish to wake up by 6am every morning. Making a concerted effort to hit your bed time at 9.30pm can be an essential part of this, and will establish regularity in your life. Then, once that fix is established, waking up at 6am will usually happen naturally, even if you head to bed later.
It might seem obvious that a solid bed time is absolutely worthwhile, but it might feel harder to implement. If we have a lot of work in on that day, or our children aren’t playing ball, it can be extremely easy to shift this bed time each night, perhaps heading to bed a little earlier or later depending on your needs. But the best thing to do here is to treat it like your office call-in time at your place of employment. It’s an obligation you hold, yet this time to yourself. Putting the child to bed earlier, switching responsibilities for waking up to attend to them with your partner, and of course giving yourself time to wind down is important. Let us explore this further:
The Wind Down
Many people just expect themselves to jump into bed and for everything to be fine. But that’s not how it works, and you likely understand this. The wind down is absolutely essential to get right. Depending on your schedule, you might have to reduce the amount of time you have to apply here. For example, you might have a full hour to unwind before bed, or perhaps you must study and work until 15 minutes before. As much time as you can get within reason is the best approach to have.
First, it’s important to ensure you don’t eat anything for two hours before bed, or drink anything with sugar, caffeine or isotonic properties. Some people suggest warm milky drinks. Green teas and fresh water can work well.
It’s likely you’ll either be working from a device or using one for entertainment at this point of the night. However, the display from screens can work against us here. Blue light from our monitors are known to simulate sunlight, meaning that if left unchecked they can make it quite difficult for you to fall asleep quickly. This is where important programs such as Flux come in. Set the time in which you wake up, and Flux will apply a simple, warm orange filter over your computer screen or phone screen displays, allowing for the blue light to reduce and for this effect to be mitigated. These effects can have a big impact, and they can also be tailored depending on your daily schedule. They are also free, so it’s essential to give them their due and potentially see the value you could enjoy here. You might be quite surprised.
Then, get away from any devices you have. Televisions, computers, laptops, tablets, even your mobile. Put them down. Leave them aside. And conduct your grooming before heading to bed. The best thing to do is set your alarm on your mobile phone or clock, and then place that phone far away from your bed. This means if you wake up in the night, you will be much less interested in checking your phone and browsing through social media. It doesn’t help anything, and can shave precious minutes from your sleep. The notifications will be waiting for you in the morning, and if you leave the sound on across the room, you’ll be able to hear if someone calls you for something important. Placing your phone across the room from your bed also serves a dual purpose. It forces you to get up and walk to turn the alarm off in the morning, helping you avoiid rolling over and hitting the snooze button over and over. Once you’re out of bed, you’re much likely to stay out.
But back to the evening. After all this is taken care of, it can be a good idea to give your mind a rest before you switch all the lights off. Perhaps read a chapter of a book, or meditate carefully for ten minutes. Then, lay down. This preparation will have been a slow descent into the comfort of sleep, rather than a forced jump from whatever intense activity you were taking care of before. It can help you feel just that little bit healthier, and that’s an important thing for sure.
Invest In Your Bed Space
Of course, when you fall asleep is important, as is how, but where is also something we need to pay attention to. If your bedroom is a mess, it will reflect in your mental state when occupying that room. If your bed is old, the sheets are relatively torn and the mattress is spring and uncomfortable, you could likely do with an upgrade. If you live in rented accommodation, you will likely be able to ask the landlord for a new mattress. They are legally obliged to get you one if the springs or its state of disrepair is affecting your health.
But if you own your place, it can be essential to go shopping. Perhaps you might wish for a memory foam mattress, a supported one, or one a little larger than before now that your partner lives with you. It might be that you wish for a stronger frame, such as beautiful wrought iron beds, adding a gorgeous aesthetic to the room. Also, ensure you invest in high-quality bedsheets, pillows and duvets. You might think you can spare cost here, but think about it, if you get the best you can afford now, they’ll last much longer, and feel much nicer on your skin at night. Again, you’ll be spending almost a third of your life here, so it’s always best to go for quality.
Noise & Ventilation
If there are two things that can harm your sleep the most, it’s having to deal with too much noise, or a lack of good air flow into the room. The first can wake you up at all hours of the night, but that’s obvious. The second can make you feel oppressed, unhappy, and feel that ‘too warm and unhappy’ feeling we all know when struggling to sleep. This is where a few select options can come in incredible useful. Some ear plugs can often help you overcome the sound should you get used to them. There are many memory foam options that are cheap and can fit in your ear canal. But then again, it might be that complaining about the noise of a neighbor and taking a proactive approach could be your best option. A white noise machine can also help dramatically.
Ventilation can also be achieved by putting a lock on your window to leave it open slightly but not visibly from the outside. If that’s not an option, an air filter can also be an extremely comfortable means of helping you breathe more easily, and for the room to feel much lighter. Consider the tog of your duvet. Too thick and you might have trouble sleeping. Too thin and you might feel cold all night. Change it up for the season. Also don’t be afraid to roll off your partner if they get too hot. Some people seemingly turn nuclear when in bed, and that can ruin your sleep. It’s not a crime to stop cuddling so you can get some shut-eye.
With these tips, your sleep should come much more easily and much more comfortably. From there you can celebrate it. To us, there’s no better manner of celebrating sleep than sleeping well. The above advice should hopefully get you there. Good luck!