We’ve all been there. You settle down in your cozy bed and get ready for a long night’s rest. As you lie there in the dark, you suddenly feel wide awake. Every little noise keeps you up as your mind anxiously thinks about all the things you need to do tomorrow.
After finally falling asleep, your rest is sporadic. The next morning you can practically name the number of times you woke up, just by how often you remember looking at the clock on the nightstand. You were tediously uncomfortable, random noises outside kept you up half the night, and you finished out the night with a bad dream that made your heart race. You get up and get ready for work, knowing that the day ahead is going to be a drag.
Sleep science has discovered that those who don’t get enough restful sleep are no better off than those who don’t get any sleep at all. We think to ourselves, “Well, at least I got 6 hours of sleep last night. That’s better than nothing, right?” But it turns out that it isn’t really better at all. When we get some (but not enough) sleep, we are tricked into thinking that we are more rested than we actually are. Our brain doesn’t do so well on limited sleep. A bad night’s sleep is almost as terrible for our bodies as no sleep at all.
So what can you do to make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye every night? Here are a few ideas to get you sleeping like a baby again.
Technology has slipped into almost every aspect of our lives, including our bedrooms. Now that most people have smartphones, we sometimes text nonstop all day long. It can be really tricky to shut that inclination off when it’s time for bed. Many of us lie in bed, continuing to text or checking our social media account just one more time.
This can be detrimental to our sleep due to the blue light emanating from the screens of our phones. It delays the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. It’s best to keep your phone away from your bed, and ideally out of your bedroom entirely. If you can’t do that, only use your phone with the bedroom light on. This will help your body to associate phone time with awake time. Additionally, make sure to turn your phone face down at night so that the notification LED lights won’t wake you up.
2. Lights in Your Room
Speaking of lights, any light will disturb your sleep. Digital clocks can be useful for telling the time in the dark, but they can also wake you up unnecessarily. After all, how many times have you looked at the clock during the night, only to become upset that you’re able to track your insomnia by the hour?
If you have a TV or computer in your room, always find a way to hide the screen since it sometimes puts off a glow even when it’s not supposed to be on. Better yet, keep these items out of your bedroom entirely. Lights from street lights or cars driving past in the night can be really irritating. Hang blackout curtains over your windows to reduce or completely eliminate all sources of outside lights. Generally, you want your room to be as dark as possible all night long.
3. Too Quiet
We’ve all had that experience of sleeping somewhere unfamiliar and being woken up during the night by every strange sound. Or maybe that’s your reality every night while at home too. The quiet isn’t so much the problem as are inconsistent noises. The loud car driving by, wildlife rustling outside your window, or the furnace kicking on in the middle of the night can all wake you up.
If you struggle with this, your best bet is to create white noise in your room. You can do this in many different ways. Try a small fan or a white noise maker app (just remember to keep your phone face down). You can also add small items to your room, such as a table waterfall or other meditative room enhancements. The white noise will help you fall asleep and stay asleep, regardless of what’s going on in the world around you.
4. Messy Room
It’s challenging to keep objects from our daily lives out of our bedrooms. Work comes to bed with us sometimes - bills pile up on our dresser and last week’s paper still sits on our nightstand. No need to mention the scattered piles of dirty clothes on the floor. We know that our bedrooms should be cleaner, but we just can’t seem to find the time.
Well, now you have another good reason to clean up. Your messy room is likely affecting your quality of sleep every night. If your mind tends to “chatter” when you burrow down under the covers, your messes are likely one of the sources, surprisingly enough. These piles remind us of all our daily worries and the long list of things we have to do in the morning. By keeping them out of your bedroom, you’re creating a space devoted to rest and relaxation.
If you climb into bed, ready for a long night’s rest and then discover that your stomach starts growling, you might need to change your bedtime routine. Some of us are just inconveniently hungry late at night. Sleeping all night long means that our bodies have to wait many hours before eating resumes again. That can be tough for some people.
One way to combat this is to eat a high protein snack before bedtime. Choose something that’s low in sugar – this will ensure the longest lasting feeling of satiation. Grab a handful of nuts, a couple slices of cheese, or a small bowl of low-carb Greek yogurt. You’ll give your stomach something satisfying yet simple, and you can go to bed feeling ready for sleep.
Some of us are chronic worriers. Our anxiety is just barely held at bay all day long. It’s when we cozy up to sleep at night, suddenly all of those anxious thoughts are unleashed. Consequently, we find ourselves tossing and turning for hours. We just can’t seem to stop the flood of thoughts. If this is a problem for you at night, you’ll have to try a few different solutions to identify which one will work for you.
Try sitting down before bed and writing out everything that’s on your mind. Just turn it all into a list, and next to each item, write one possible solution. In fact, get down your to-do list for the next day, while you’re at it. If you find yourself thinking of other things to add to the list, get out of bed to write them down. This will help your mind associate these worries with the active parts of your home, and your bedroom with resting.
7. Poor Bedding
You also just might not have the right bedding for a good night’s sleep. If you find yourself irritated by wrinkles in the sheets or scratchy fabrics, you probably want to replace your bedding. If you’re an allergy sufferer, dust mites could be the culprit. These little microscopic bugs take over our bedding, eating our dead skin cells and leave their excrement behind. This can be a disaster for our sinuses when we breathe it all in.
Assess your bedding to see if anything should be replaced. If your mattress is over 10 years old, consider buying a new one. Perhaps your pillow is old or just not quite comfortable enough. Change out your comforter if it leaves you feeling too hot or too cold. And when it comes to sheets, choose thermal control for year round comfort, and luxurious softness (PeachSkinSheets make sets that would be perfect for your next upgrade). You’ll rest easy knowing that you're practically sleeping on a cloud.
A poor night’s sleep isn’t just a minor annoyance that affects the following day. It can wreak havoc on your overall health in the long term. Sleep debt adds up over time, causing mental and physical issues that can really harm you. Often, we just put up with our sleep issues. Or we make the naive choice to stay up too late before an early morning start. It doesn’t need to be that way, however. We can make some adjustments to our sleep environment now reap the benefits continually. These changes can certainly go a long way. You owe it to yourself to get a good night’s rest every single night.
Just imagine, after all of those awful nights of tossing and turning, finally falling asleep without any difficulty whatsoever. You climb into bed, delighted by the feel of your soft sheets, plump pillow, and comforting blankets. Your back and feet relaxed, you start to feel heavy, and calmness washes over your entire body. You sink into a deep sleep and nothing wakes you up during the whole night. The next morning, you wake up feeling refreshed and completely recharged. You can start your day, knowing you’ve taken great care of yourself. Choose to make your sleep a priority and you’ll start seeing positive changes in all aspects of your life!