If you’re the least little bit like me, sleep is precious but in short supply—especially as days get longer and we attempt to squeeze more in to them. This is compounded by a world where a whopping 30% of us struggles with transient insomnia. Even when we want to sleep and have time to sleep, we can’t! What’s a girl to do?
There are actually quite a few things we can do to improve our sleep.
Set a sleep schedule, and stick to it. This is possibly the most important thing you can do to improve your sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time every morning—including weekends when it is oh, so tempting to sleep in. This habit will reset your biological clock over time and keep you sleeping better. Further, keep yourself on track with regular exposure to light and dark. Open the drapes upon waking in the morning, or go outside and have your coffee in the early morning sunshine. Inspire yourself to do just that with the perfect indoor-outdoor rug from our Dash and Albert Collection.
Exercise, but not within four hours of bedtime. Any workout is good, but cardio exercise, in particular, improves the length and quality of your sleep. Avoid working out within four hours of going to bed, however, because just 30 minutes of healthy cardio elevates your body temperature and prevents sleep for up to four hours.
Say no to caffeine after 2 pm. This is a killer! I suspect that many of you reading this are a lot of me and have become completely inured to the effects of caffeine. Or…you think you have. Caffeine remains in your system for 8 hours after consuming it, so that afternoon iced tea or that after-dinner coffee will impact your slumber.
Write it down. One of my personal biggest sleep inhibitors is the inability to “turn off” my brain. A great way to do this is to make a quick “to-do” list of all of those things that are keeping you up at night. To quiet your wakeful anxiety, jot down your top concerns. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll forget to call Susie’s doctor’s office tomorrow morning. Maybe you forgot to put lunch money in James’ account. Write it down and commit to worrying about when the sun comes up.
Stay cool. For optimal sleep, experts recommend a thermostat setting of between 65 and 75 degrees. Further, they recommend paying attention to how you feel between the sheets. Cooler sheets, such as our Bamboo variety, help trigger a drop in your body temperature, which signals the body to produce melatonin, the release of which is vital for sleep.
Meditate. Meditation is underrated, mainly because many people are unfamiliar with and skeptical of its benefits. Research published by JAMA Internal Medicine, though, shows that middle-aged and older adults who practiced mindful meditation have fewer struggles with insomnia than their peers. They also suffer less with depression and fatigue. To meditate your way to restful sleep, simply focus on a positive word, phrase, or image while you breathe deeply and evenly. If your mind drifts, just bring it back with a deep breath.
Bore yourself! If all else fails, take 15 to 20 minutes and try to literally bore yourself to sleep. It’s not necessary to count sheep, although some variation of counting may work. Try mental recitation of state capitals, or naming a food for each letter of the alphabet.
These things, along with tried and true faves such as no electronics in the bedroom, saving the bedroom for sleep and sex, and using a little white noise to tune out other, pesky noises, are sure to get you snoozing in no time. Sweet dreams!