We’ve all heard it before — we should be getting more sleep. Yet, we tend to treat our bodies like machines, expecting them to run at full capacity without time to recharge. We often stay up late scrolling through social media, getting in that last email, or catching up on our favorite show, not even considering the importance that those extra restful moments will have on our productivity and health for days/months/years to follow.
40% of Americans (and 60% of women) are getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night — we are chronically sleep deprived and our sleep debt continues to pile up. This “sleep debt” leads to long-term inflammation in our bodies. What starts as brain-fog, drowsiness, and lack of focus, leads to an increase in aging, elevated cortisol (stress) levels, and impaired memory. It can actually shed years off one's life.
Fixing it starts with changing our perspective. Sleep shouldn’t be viewed as an indulgence, but rather a cornerstone of our health routine. Just like taking vitamins and working out, creating habits is key here — so we’ve listed the best ways to set you on the right path to more sleep in 2018:
1 - TURN THE LIGHTS DOWN LOW
Dimmable lights not only help set the mood ;) but also help transition our brains into sleep mode. Melatonin is our natural sleep-inducing hormone released by the pineal gland. This chemical process not only helps us fall asleep, but actually keeps us asleep. Studies have shown that bright lights suppress the production of melatonine, while dark helps us ramp it up.
Invest in dimmable switches or even antique edison light bulbs for a calming light to help boost your sleep hormones. If you’re stuck in front of a computer late, it may be time to look into downloading this app which will adapt the color of the screen to correspond with the time of day.
2 - COOL THE ROOM
According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for you to get your best sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit (definitely cooler than we’ve been cranking the AC). Our bodies naturally decrease in temperature when we first lay down to sleep, so this trick will help facilitate that temperature change and ease us into slumber faster.
3 - NO PHONES BEFORE BED?!
If you are the kind of person that can truly put down the cell phone for 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime - good on you (teach us your ways)! The theory in why cellphones are bad for our sleep routine stems from the blue-white light our devices emit, and in return, prevent our brain from releasing melatonin. We like to think of this similar to the bright light of sunrise versus the warm light of a sunset — the sunrise naturally energizes our bodies, while a sunset gets us ready to cuddle up for the evening.
But let’s be realistic, we know how hard that is, so why not use our phones for something more proactive for our sleep? We highly recommend a guided sleep meditation to calm those racing thoughts. Right after you set your alarm for the next day, set the guided meditation on sleep mode, set your phone down, and find yourselves drifting off in a few minutes. We swear by Meditation Oasis, Guided Sleep Meditation. Bonus: it’s free!
4 - ESTABLISH A NIGHTTIME RITUAL
One of our favorite things to have by our bedside is an oil diffuser. Scents like lavender, marjoram and camomile help to naturally ease anxiety and create a calming ambience to lull you into a peaceful rest.
The key here is to have a nighttime ritual, creating a signal to prompt your mind into knowing it’s time for bed. It can be something as simple as a hand and/or foot massage with your favorite lotions, placing your pillows exactly as you like them, taking a moment for a few deeps breaths, or even spend time reflecting on your day by journaling or talking to a loved one. The point is to be present and switch your brain into a calmed state of mind.
We hope these tips help you have a more restful (and productive) new year. As always, wishing you much happiness and health!