When thinking about the amount of sleep you get nightly, you may feel that poor sleep is directly the result of a flat pillow or a dated mattress. While these are common causes of poor sleep, these are not the only reasons why you may not be getting a good night's rest. All too often, the quality of sleep we get is based on simple things. Consider starting with these cost-effective adjustments to your nightly habits before investing in a high-priced new mattress.
One common reason you may not be sleeping well is your environment. You may be thinking about how that can even affect your sleeping; as long as you are in a dark room, you should be fine, right? Wrong. According to World Sleep Day, factors such as temperature, noise, light, bed comfort, and electronic distractions can keep you from falling and staying asleep. To emit the perfect environment, try a night-light humidifier. These can be great for emitting essential oils to help relax your body, and the night light gives off an ambiance to help you slowly drift to sleep. Furthermore, a humidifier helps prevent body dryness such as dry skin or throat irritation which are common occurrences in colder months.
Another simple trick to adjusting your environment is to set your curtains or blinds before turning in for the night. While this may sound like something obvious, this can easily be overlooked and before you know it, you may be waking up earlier than expected due to the sun or other factors. This goes hand-in-hand with adjusting the temperature in your living space before bed. Often a comforter or blanket provides extra warmth; if not taken into consideration, you may end up waking up in the middle of the night due to being too warm. By making these simple adjustments to the place you sleep, you can see improvements to your sleep quality and comfort.
If you’re noticing that you are having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, consider thinking about your body! What you wear and the products you use have an impact on your overall comfort, so, naturally, it would have an impact on your sleep.
For women, the use of tampons and pads during their monthly cycle is often a cause of major discomfort. Give thought to switching to a flexible menstrual cup to eliminate this discomfort. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups can be used for up to 12 hours with only a need to empty twice daily, making it easier to sleep through the night. Additionally, cups made from silicone can prove to be more comfortable overall for users in comparison to tampons and pads.
For men, consider what you wear to bed. While some men prefer briefs or boxer-briefs, these can be restrictive, hot, and can cause discomfort. Consider switching to boxers (or going commando!) for ultimate comfort.
For everyone, consider a skincare routine! Taking care of your skin can help maximize your bodily comfort, which in turn can make staying asleep easier. Start with washing your face with a gentle face wash and applying a moisturizing night mask right before you head to sleep. This will help your skin overnight to keep moisture in and keep wrinkles away. Plus starting an effective skincare regime now will help keep you in the routine in the future.
One factor that’s often overlooked with regard to sleep is the routine that you perform before you go to bed. One way to ensure a better night’s rest is to take a warm bath or shower about an hour before you turn in for the night. The warm (not hot) water will not only relax any tense muscles you may have but based on a sleep study, it’s suggested that a dip in core body temperature actually increases the chances of falling and staying asleep.
Another factor to consider when achieving maximum sleep comfort is sleeping at the same time every night if possible. Even if your weekend nights keep you up later than normal, try not to overcompensate by sleeping in the next morning; this will only throw off your internal rhythm for the next few nights to come. Instead, aim to keep a regular sleep/wake schedule to keep your body in sync.
It’s a common thought that you shouldn’t eat right before bed. But what if you’re hungry? Skip the late-night meal and opt for a snack if you cannot fall asleep. Certain fruits, like cantaloupe and watermelon, can help ward off dehydration which can inhibit your ability to fall asleep. Other foods, like dark chocolate, contain serotonin, which can help relax both mind and body. It’s important to keep in mind that keeping these portions small might help you sleep, but if you overeat, it’ll have the opposite effect!
However, some foods should be avoided right before bed. For example, spicy foods will only lead to heartburn, or alcohol—which many find to be a relaxing beverage before bed—will only prohibit your body from going into a deep sleep.
Keep in mind that while water consumption is also something your body needs, you should limit the amount of water you drink right before bed. While we should be aiming to drink water throughout the day, drinking too much water before bed can lead to an increase in the number of times you wake up at night, causing an interruption in your sleep cycle. To ensure that you are staying hydrated, focus on drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If you do need to drink more, try sticking with water as your beverage of choice with dinner.
If you’ve tried all of the above tips and you’re still having trouble sleeping comfortably, it might be time to consider a few new additions to your bed. Pillows that are flat or are not specific to your sleeping type (side, back, or stomach) should be replaced. Take into consideration the difference between available pillows. A memory foam pillow, for instance, offers support for all sleeping positions while remaining soft yet firm. When thinking about what kind of pillow you require, consider not only the position you sleep in but the positioning of your neck with the pillow. Something too soft will not cradle your neck, therefore leading you to restless nights, but something too high might cause you neck pain in the morning.
While talking about the bed itself, it’s important to also consider the sheets you sleep on. While this might not be the determining factor in falling asleep, it should be taken into consideration when staying asleep. Consider what fabrics you like; do you like jersey-knit sheets that are tee-shirt soft? Or do you prefer the luxury satin or silk sheets? Making this shift will create the ultimate space for you to fall asleep.
While none of these tips are a guarantee that you will sleep more soundly, they will help manage your body’s ability to become more comfortable. By allowing yourself to relax and find ultimate comfort before bed, you may just get your perfect night's rest.
There are a number of things that can rob you of sleep. Fortunately, most of these things can be solved through practicing good sleep hygiene and making sleep a priority. However, for some people, practicing good sleep hygiene and maximizing their sleep environment doesn't always help them sleep better. Many of these people suffer from sleep disorders that need to be diagnosed and treated starting with a sleep study.
For residents of Alaska, The Alaska Sleep Clinic is here to help. We have over a decade worth of experience in diagnosing and treating a variety of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and many others. If you're having trouble sleeping and think it may be a sign of a disorder, click the link below for a free consultation with a sleep specialist.