Sleep: It’s as important for your overall health and well-being as food or exercise. Perhaps even more!
It’s one of the four pillars of health and well-being (alongside nutrition, fitness and exercise, and emotional well-being), but it’s often the most overlooked. We tend to think of it as optional because we can still function with less than what we need.
You can sleep when you’re dead, right?
Well, consider this: Studies have shown that for most people, if you’re consistently getting less than eight hours of sleep, you are in the midst of a cognitive decline. And the worst part of it? You don’t even know it.
If you consider that each of the four pillars of your well-being are like wheels of a car, then not addressing one of them — in this case, sleep — would be like trying to drive down the road in a car with only three wheels.
You may think of sleep as a state of “not doing,” but in fact, there are three things you are doing when you sleep:
- You’re restoring your brain.
- You’re consolidating your memory.
- You’re restoring your metabolic health.
That’s right — metabolic health. Your sleep affects your physical body, the way you utilize macronutrients in your food for energy, and your ability to lose weight and be fit. So if you’re not losing weight the way you think you should be or want to, it might be connected to a lack of sleep.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. Here, I’m going to address the physical space of your bedroom, and you’re going to see how many options you’ve got to optimize it for a good night’s sleep. (Check out the video at the top of the page for a more detailed explanation.)
Remember: This is a process. Don’t try changing everything all at once. Decide which area you’d like to address first — one that you think might make the biggest difference for you — and give that a try.
If you’d like to try any of these products for yourself, I’ve included links to where you can purchase my recommendations below.
This can indicate to your body that it’s not time to sleep, but rather, it’s time to get up. So one of the best things you can do is to get your bedroom as dark as possible.
Install blackout curtains, shades or drapes to block more light. These are cheap, easy and ultra customizable:
Original Blackout Pleated Paper Shade (Amazon.com)
Cover any LED lights (e.g. clocks, smoke detectors, power strip lights, computer power lights) with electrical tape, or turn them upside down.
While it takes a little getting used to, eye masks can be fantastic for enhancing your sleep. Here’s the one I use:
Dream Sleeper Sleeping Mask for Men or Women (Amazon.com)
If you’re a light sleeper (and sometimes even if you’re not), sounds from your environment will affect your sleep. Do yourself a favor and sleep with some white noise. This could be from a fan, or from a white noise app on your phone.
Here’s an option for a white noise machine that does only that:
Marpac Dohm Classic | The Original White Noise Machine (Amazon.com)
Studies show that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And as many have experienced, sleeping hot doesn’t lead to great sleep. Here are a few things to consider.
Just getting the air moving in your bedroom can make a huge difference. This could be an installed ceiling fan, or a floor fan that just circulates the air in your room.
If you don’t have it, you’re at the mercy of the environment. While you might be okay without it most of the year, those nights when it’s unbearably hot and humid, you’ll be glad you have it.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve looked at mattress technology, lots has changed over the past five years. You can find synthetic mattresses that don’t roast you at night. Do your research and then test them out to find the right one for you.
Thermostat-Controlled Mattress Pads
This is something I’ve used for years. It’s fantastic. It has a wide temperature range (from super cold to super warm), it’s a custom control for my side of the bed, and it keeps me comfortable even on the warmest summer nights with no air conditioning.
ChiliPAD Sleep System (ChiliTechnology.com)
There’s so many options here. A lot depends on the position you sleep in — front, side, or back — and how much head/neck support you like.
Personally, I like a very hard pillow that is more of a neck support than anything else. I’ll include a link to the one I use, but it would be worth it for you to spend some time trying different options to see what suits you best.
PineTales, Organic Buckwheat Hulls Neck/Cervical Pillow (Amazon.com)
Are you a back sleeper, side sleeper, or front sleeper? Try different things to help you improve your sleep in the position you’re most comfortable.
Below are a couple of options for side sleepers, but do your research and experimentation to find out what works best for you.
ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Sciatica Relief (Amazon.com)
BioPEDIC Premium SofLOFT 20-by-54 Inch Body Pillow (Amazon.com)
YnM Weighted Blanket (Amazon.com)