Welcome to May, also known as “Better Sleep Month”! (But really, shouldn’t every month be a better sleep month?) If you’re like most Americans you either aren’t getting enough sleep or you aren’t getting quality sleep – both of which have a huge impact upon your life. In fact, 8 out of 10 people say they would feel better if they got more sleep. What does good quality sleep do for you?
We can tell you what the lack of it can do. Inadequate sleep can increase your blood pressure and cause your body to become more stressed. Poor sleep can also create brain fog, increase irritability, cause mood swings, and weaken the immune system. It creates a lack of productivity and decline in judgement in the work place. And serious sleep problems cause issues like restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and insomnia. Yikes.
There are A LOT of factors that can interrupt your sleep and cause you to sleep poorly. The most common one is, of course, stress. Stress can manifest in different ways such as family drama, trouble with friends, break-ups, financial worries, and anxiety in general (let’s face it, we can all find something to be anxious about at any given time). Physical factors can also disrupt your sleep – factors such as body aches & pain, a frequent need to urinate, or snoring from a partner. Then there are external factors – caffeine intake (especially close to bedtime), how light or dark the room is, room temperature, and noise. Looking at it this way, it seems like there’s a lot keeping us from sleep.
BUT there are plenty of ways to change things up and create an environment in which you can sleep well. The whole aim of “Better Sleep Month” is to encourage people to establish better sleep patterns after all! Here are some fabulous tips from the Better Sleep Council designed to help you get a good night’s rest.
- Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. We’re talking going to bed and waking up at the same time each & every day, including weekends. This helps your body find its natural rhythm and settle into a consistent sleep-wake cycle.
- Exercise regularly – just not in the two hours before bedtime. Exercise will wake you up which is what you want to avoid.
- Don’t eat large meals right before bed. Going to bed while your body is digesting a large meal can lead to problems like heartburn and indigestion.
- Do something relaxing before bed. Instead of stimulating activities that will wake you up, do some light reading or meditating, just whatever you find relaxes you.
- That said – turn off the television and other screens an hour before bed. “But I find TV relaxing!”…”How can I read without my Kindle?”…yes, well, the light your screens give off affects the production of melatonin in your body – and melatonin is one of the sleep-inducing chemicals your brain produces. So, unfortunately, electronic devices close to bedtime are a bad idea.
- Something else to avoid before bed? Alcohol and nicotine. A glass of wine before bed may help you relax, but it will actually disrupt your sleep because it reduces REM sleep (the most important kind). And nicotine is a stimulant.
- Re-evaluate your mattress every 7 years to make sure it’s still giving you the same level of comfort and firmness. If your mattress has become saggy, lumpy, or uncomfortable in any way, it clearly will not make for a good night’s sleep. If you find it lacking, go get a new one that provides ultimate comfort.
- Replace your pillow once a year. Pillows are important – they provide neck support. Make sure yours is doing it’s job.
- Create the optimal sleep environment. Make sure your room is dark as it can be (black out blinds help here), make sure you have enough room in the bed if you share with a partner (or pet!), and make sure the temperature is right.
- Remember it’s the quality of your sleep, not necessarily how much you get that determines how rested you are. Many experts believe between 7 1/2 & 8 1/2 hours of sleep are needed each night, but studies have shown that people who sleep between 6 & 7 hours a night might actually live longer. And 6 hours of quality sleep will always be better than 8 hours of poor sleep!
A good night’s rest is vitally important to good health, so we hope these tips help you reach your perfect night’s sleep! Believe us, you’ll notice a difference. Not only will your physical & mental health improve, but some people even think better sleep helps spark their creativity and improves their memory. Pretty powerful!
And if it’s a mattress that’s the cause of your sleep issues, we are more than happy to help you out. Our mattress center, Everything Sleep, in Succasunna has your mattress needs covered. We offer great mattresses at amazing prices + our sleep experts will help you find the mattress that’s right size and comfort level for you. Together we’ll find the perfect fit. Happy sleeping!
School is starting soon and that means so do back to school routines such as early to bed, early to rise. It can be hard to get back into the swing of the sleep routine after a summer of fun & late nights, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself and your kids. Try these tips and hacks, and you’ll be back on track in no time.
To start, ease everybody back into the swing of routines, especially earlier bedtimes. A couple of weeks before school starts, start having the kids go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night till they hit their schooltime bedtime (ex. If they’ve been going to bed at 9, but need to go to bed at 8 during school, you’d start the first night at 8:45, the next at 8:30, and so on). This way it’s less of a shock and they’re less likely to put up a huge fuss.
Speaking of times for bed, set a regular time between 7pm & 8pm. Every child has different sleep needs, but generally most school-aged children need between 10-12 hours of sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers these sleep guidelines for parents:
- 4-12 months: 12-16 hours
- 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
- 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
- 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
- 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
- 18+ years: 7+ hours
Once you have a set time and are working on getting back to that set time before school actually begins, it’s good to create a night time routine. About an hour before lights’ out, get things done like laying out clothes for the next day, taking showers/baths, brushing teeth, and putting on PJs. If you do the same thing each night before bed, the routine will start becoming a cue that it’s almost time for sleep.
A wonderful thing to have as part of your kids’ bedtime routine that children universally love? Bedtime stories! It winds kids down if they’re still energetic, creates a wonderful opportunity for bonding, and helps kids with their reading. It’s win-win all around. Something to avoid, however, is reading e-books – or looking at screens (tv, phone, computer) in general – at any point in the half hour leading up to sleep. Electronics emit blue light which causes a delay in the natural release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. No melatonin means no Mr. Sandman. (The avoiding electronics 30 minutes before bed rule is an excellent one for adults as well!).
Finally, make sure your child’s bedroom is primed for the perfect sleep. Blackout blinds are handy as bedrooms should be as dark as possible (though nightlights are useful too if your child doesn’t prefer complete darkness). Letting your child pick out their own sheet set will go a long way to getting them excited for bed too! And, of course, there’s the matter of making sure the mattress is comfortable – not too hard, not too soft (the kind of mattress Goldilocks would prefer). We have a great selection of mattresses at our stores and online PLUS a slew of more awesome information on sleep health on our website as well if it’s a mattress you need. Just drop by or give us a call!
Change can be hard, especially when it’s time to end summer fun and go back to school. These back to school sleep hacks should make the change a bit easier and give you and your kids one less thing to stress out over as the school season starts anew.