Everyone wants to sleep well.
If this is something you struggle with, you are not alone. One in three adults suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia, and the negative side effects attributed to poor sleep are the stuff of nightmares.
Improving your sleep quality is about your approach. To complete a successful project, you need the correct tools, a good environment, and proper preparation. Sleep is no different.
The first step is to evaluate your sleeping tools. This includes mattresses, bedding, pillows, and support devices.
Mattresses come in different thicknesses, densities, and materials. Go to the local mattress store and try a few, (bring your bed partner, this affects them too). If purchasing a new mattress seems unnecessary or is not financially approachable, there are still plenty of adjustments to be made. A mattress topper might be a good temporary fix, and they are available in cooling materials and varying thicknesses.
Simple maintenance can also make a big difference. Flip the mattress over if it is the kind that can be flipped and try cleaning the mattress with a vacuum or steam cleaner. Even just opening the windows and airing it out a bit while the sheets are washing is a good idea.
Speaking of sheets, are they cotton? The packaging can boast all day about 1000 thread count, but if the sheets are polyester there is a possibility that they will be itchy or hot (microfiber sheets are frequently made of polyester). This may seem subtle, but try putting 100% cotton sheets on the bed once it’s clean and fresh.
Pillows are a big deal. The options are endless, and the price range is wide. Find a pillow that is cooling and supportive. Do not be afraid to try them and return them. Also, pillows are not just for heads! Try putting one between your knees if you sleep on your side, or under your knees if you sleep on your back. A long body pillow provides something cushy to wrap your arms around AND fits between your knees. The better you can align and support your body, the better you will sleep, and your joints will thank you.
Beyond pillows there are other sleep support devices that are worth investigating. Talk to your doctor about aches and pains, or any concerns about snoring or trouble breathing so they can prescribe the correct equipment and you can have the tools you need to sleep better.
Your Bedroom Enmironment
Step two is take a good look at the environment you sleep in. Is it clean, quiet and temperature controlled? The chaos around you goes to bed with you, so yes, I just told you to clean your room. Make sure it’s cool enough to sleep without being cold. Having a window open can be nice, or if that’s not an option many people sleep better with a fan.
Turn Off Your Phone
Lights and screens have no place in your sleep routine. As much as it may pain you, keep the phone away from the bed. If you prefer some light, consider a Himalayan pink salt lamp with a dimmer, or a small night light that has a warm colored filter on it. It is important that the light be minimal and warm, so that it does not overstimulate, or prevent the natural chemical changes that occur in your brain when you sleep in the dark.
Stick to a Routine
The last step is to have a bedtime routine. I can hear you saying you don’t have time for that, but it is so important if you want to sleep well. Leave an hour at the end of your day, and use it to prepare for bed. Start by feeling clean. Take a bath, shower, or even just a quick wash in the sink, and put on something light and comfortable. Turn off all of the electronics and leave on only the lights you need. Some find meditation helps them sleep, others prefer to read a chapter, cuddle with a loved one, or try a few bedtime yoga postures. Regardless of what you choose, the point is to forget about the day, and focus on relaxing in the moment so sleep will come naturally and last all night.
Best wishes on your journey to better sleep, and sweet dreams.