If you didn’t already know, May is Better Sleep Month.
Sleep is SUCH an important part of your day. It not only sets the tone for your productivity the following morning, but it gives your body much needed time to relax and refresh.
I’m a big believer in getting enough sleep, and in fact, going to bed early is one of my favourite things to do. I love waking up just before my alarm goes off and already feeling refreshed and ready to begin. Of course, I’m not going to say I don’t also love a good weekend sleep in, because let’s be honest, I’m still human.
I don’t know about you, but I really feel it the next morning when I go to bed late and it often takes me a couple of days to reset. That catch-up period then causes a big downturn in my work, my energy, and my general mood, so that downward spiral is really something I try to avoid at all costs. And, while I realize we can’t all be early to bed & early to rise, setting that perfect environment and getting into the habit of feeling well rested will really do wonders to your outlook on life!
The importance of sleep has garnered a ton of attention lately, especially with the release of Arianna Huffington’s new book, the Sleep Revolution (Buy here or on Amazon). I haven’t read it yet, but it’s high on my list. So, this month, I’m partnering with Casper to bring you some tips on how to create the perfect sleeping environment and how to help you get a better night’s rest.
If you haven’t heard of Casper, they’re a new start up offering latex memory foam mattresses, sheets, and dual-layer pillows, all dedicated to that perfect sleep. I haven’t tested out their products, so if you have please comment with your thoughts below. I would love to see what the hype is about!
Together, we’re bringing you a list of common sleep problems as well as tips to overcome them, infused with my personal recommendations on how to be fully rested. So, onwards we go!
First thing’s first, you need to set the tone. This stems from a comfortable bed, cozy beddings, and the proper pillows. You should be spending at least 8-10 hours here per day, so it is important to have a setting that makes you excited about the thought of jumping and tucking in for the long haul.
I like to have two pillows – one firmer pillow to add some support against the headboard, and then a softer pillow that I actually rest my head on. If you’ve been following me on snapchat (@ts_tidbits), you would have seen that we recently just purchased new pillows and I’m really loving them. These down filled beauties are so fluffy and squishy, and the best part is that you can pick the right pillow for you based on your sleeping position.
They actually come with a 30 day comfort guarantee, but I was set on keeping them after only 2 nights.
For me, I rotate between my side and stomach, usually stuffing an arm or two underneath the pillow. So, having something soft enough that it won’t put my shoulder to sleep, yet firm enough to keep my neck stable, is really important.
Next comes the sheet set. I rotate a lot between using a sheet + duvet, or just the duvet, and it really depends on the season and the temperature in our condo. Currently, I’m using Bamboo Sheets which are so unbelievably soft. They start out a little crisp, but with each wash they become softer and softer, wrapping you up in a silky cashmere cocoon. The duvet we use is also from Bamboo. It’s light and fluffy, yet somehow temperature controlled to make sure you don’t wake up freezing with the night sweats.
Jumping into bed every night is suuuch a dream.
Of course, having a fluffy bear of a dog to cuddle always helps too.
^ Looks like someone is ready for bed! ^
And, a little marker for the memory of Sparks.
After the tone is set, I like to focus on my sleeping environment. This relates to sounds, scents, and lighting.
Some nights, I’ll light a candle at my bedside table (or during a bath), releasing an aromatic scent that is both comforting and relaxing. This lets my brain know that I’m winding down, and that it’s time to start feeling sleepy. If I need a little extra help, I’ll give a couple sprays of lavender to my pillows, and breathe deeply upon touchdown.
The Relax Spray from Rocky Mountain is a serious life saver, and I find I’m often out like a light after a few deep breaths. I’ve also heard great things about the Saje aromatherapy diffusers and I’m eager to give them a try.
For me, what’s most important about my environment is having a dark and quiet room. Now, this doesn’t always happen and I think Cole will agree that I have my grouchy moments when that’s the case. For me, this means that the ideal pre-sleep room has the lights turned off, the curtains down, and the TV turned down low (at a minimum).
Without both of these things, I have a hard time shutting my brain off and actually falling asleep – no matter how tired I might be. And, when the TV is on, I often find myself listening to the show, even if I don’t actually care about what’s happening.
We’ve played around with dimming the lights, using headphones, or just staying in separate rooms, but if anyone has other ideas, I would love to hear them. For those of you with partners on different sleep schedules, I would love to hear your thoughts. I’m also considering the use of a sleep mask, but I haven’t found the perfect one just yet.
While there are some nights that I’ll watch TV before bed, on those occasions I’ll try and watch something meaningless that I could take or leave. That way my brain isn’t still hyper when we turn it off, and I’m not finding myself staying awake saying “just ten more minutes”! Another alternative is to read a few chapters of a great book.
On most nights, I’ll turn off the lights, jump into bed, and then wind-down by taking a quick peak at my Instagram feed or snapchat stories. That way my eyes are already adjusting to the darkness and the setting is quiet, before I actually decide it’s time to snooze.
Now, you’re probably thinking that a phone is one of the most distracting items to have near you when you’re going to sleep. So, I have a solution for this too. Once I’m done looking at mine, I put it on a soft spot beside my bed and I don’t look at it any more. This means that if it vibrates I won’t hear it and become distracted again by the outside world. That isn’t to say that I won’t check my phone if I wake up in the night, but besides a quick peak to make sure there are no emergencies, I won’t touch it again until I’m ready to start the day.
And finally, the third step to my sleeping routine is a pattern. Each night before bed, I do the exact same string of things. This is a way of reminding my body that things are shutting down for the night, and it consists of brushing my teeth, washing my face, throwing on my PJs, and taking Sophie for a quick pee outside.
I try to be quite strict at maintaining an actual bedtime, since I know I need at least 8 hours to feel rested. For me, this means that I like to be falling asleep by 9:30; so, I’ll usually hop into bed around 9 and take the next 30 minutes to slow my thoughts. I also keep a notebook beside my bed, so that if an urgent thought does pop up, I can quickly jot it down and forget about it – rather than worrying that I won’t remember about it in the morning.
And that’s it! All of my wisdom on how to get a good night’s sleep! I’ve actually always been quite a good sleeper and I find it easy to fall asleep within minutes, which I know is a very fortunate quality to have.
I think it all comes down to exhausting yourself during the day (exercise helps!), staying away from overly engaging shows or games before bed, and being strict on your routine and scheduled bed time. In the mornings, I refuse to let myself press the snooze button, so I know that every minute I stay up past 9:30, is a minute less rested that I’ll be. If you get into the habit of constantly snoozing, you’ll never force your body to truly adjust and as a result, you’ll always be tired.
Thankfully, Casper has gone through some tips for the most common sleeping problems below, so check them out! Which ones do you struggle with?
Here’s to a better rest!