My last blog post about sleep was, to my surprise, extremely popular! I guess it’s not all that crazy when you think about it. We live in a fast-paced, social media and technology addicted world, all of which does a number on your sleep and can have a negative impact on your overall health.
Getting better quality sleep improves focus, memory and even weight loss (lack of sleep causes your body to release a hormone that actually makes you crave carbs!). Since so many of you enjoyed the last post, I thought I’d dive deeper into this topic of getting better sleep, and update you on my own sleeping habits, which have changed dramatically for one reason. Read below for more tips!
I’ve mentioned my Sleep Number mattress and how obsessed I am with it. It’s even been improving as I continue to use my SleepIQ and adjust my Sleep Number® setting – lower, so a softer mattress – as I go. I didn’t realize when we first got the bed that a softer mattress is the aim: it’s better for women’s hip alignment, especially if you tend to sleep on one side. A softer mattress also helps disperse pressure in certain areas of the back, neck and hips. But if you’re used to a harder mattress (as I was) it’s worth gradually lowering your Sleep Number setting by 5 points each night.
I also love raising the feet up after a long day of wearing high heels – it really releases my tight lower back, as does the massage button… though it always has Mackenzie and I both in a fit of giggles when we use it. Using the button to elevate the pillow-end is also a good reminder to read more in bed, another New Year’s Resolution.
The SleepIQ smartphone apps are extremely helpful to track your sleep patterns and quality. Tracking your sleep is great for anyone regardless of what type of mattress you have, and you can get many helpful apps right on your smartphone. They track your movements at night, so you can see exactly how many hours of sleep you’re actually getting, and can even help calculate your optimum bedtime. You might not know this, but not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep every night. While some need 8 or more, others only need 6 – so experiment to see what works for you.
Try this for one week to find out your perfect bedtime – go to bed half an hour earlier each night, until you wake up naturally in the morning when you’re supposed to. For example, if your normal bedtime is midnight and you wake up at 7am feeling exhausted, go to bed at 11.30pm one night, 11pm the next night, and so on – until you wake up naturally at 7am. This will help you figure out what time you should be going to bed, and also how many hours you need a night. Everyone is different.
Read below for 10 rituals I do to sleep more soundly – you don’t have to do each of these every single night, but they do help, trust me!
1. Lavender spray: I spritz it on my sheets and pillow before bed to induce a sense of calm.
2. Silk pillow cases: not only do they help prevent wrinkles and dry skin/hair, but they’re much more comfortable than your average cotton pillowcase.
3. No checking your phone!: If you do wake up in the night, the worst thing you can do is reach for your phone. I’m famous for doing this, so I stop myself by keeping my phone in a little drawstring bag made of thick black fabric – so the flashing doesn’t show through – in my nightstand at night. It’s a great deterrent because if I wake, I just can’t be bothered to open up the bag. I can’t trust myself otherwise!
4. Salt lamps: I keep one in our bedroom to get rid of the positive ion buildup that is released by our electronics, which can cause chronic fatigue, stress, and even lower your immune system. These are so inexpensive, and create a warm amber glow too.
5. No electronics 1 hour before bed: The artificial light from phones, computers, and TV’s all stimulate your brain into being more awake, so stop scrolling Instagram before bed and read an actual book to wind down instead.
6. Take a bath: I don’t have time to do this very often, but I love sitting in a warm bath with aromatherapy oils before bed. There’s literally nothing more relaxing.
7. Meditate: I also forget to do this one a lot, but focusing on deep breathing for even just 5 minutes before bed can help you relax and let go of your day.
8. Get enough exercise: Getting enough exercise is crucial for good sleep, as it releases endorphins, helps relieve stress, and just plain tires you out!
9. Journal: If you’re dealing with anxiety at night, definitely try journaling before you go to sleep. You never know what thoughts might be causing you to lay awake until you actually write them down, which then helps you to release them.
10. Keep a notebook next to your bed: Related to the above tip… Sometimes I have an idea or a ‘to-do’ to add to my list when I’m falling asleep or even in the middle of the night. Being able to quickly jot it down will help you be able to fall back asleep faster.
What else do you guys do to get better sleep? Tell me in the comments!
Thank you to Sleep Number for sponsoring this post.