Here at the Northwest, we are all about comfort. We make sure our products are made with the best materials and that our blankets are as soft and warm as possible. However, even with the best pillows, blankets, comforters, and mattresses, America has an ever-growing sleep epidemic: sleep deprivation.
I know it may sound silly that sleep deprivation is an epidemic, but it affects the public health of 1 in 3 adults. Studies have shown that getting fewer than five hours of sleep, four nights in a row, has the same effects on cognitive function as three drinks! No need to fear, because we are here to help you hack your sleep, so you walk up well-rested and ready for the day!
- Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
This is the most important, yet, arguably, the hardest thing to do. The recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is seven hours, so try to aim for eight. Give yourself that extra hour to allow for any difficulty falling asleep.
The reason you need a consistent sleep schedule is that our bodies work like clocks. We have a sleep-wake cycle. When you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, it reinforces this cycle. A good sleep-wake cycle plays a significant role in how you feel when you wake up and on your energy levels throughout the day.
*Bonus tip: Limit sleeping in on the weekends to just one extra hour. A flipped sleeping schedule on the weekends will wreak havoc on your sleep-wake cycle. Don’t let all that hard work be for nothing!
- Don’t Eat Too Late
It is best to stop eating two hours before bed to give your body time to digest before you sleep. When you eat right before bed, it can cause discomfort, interrupting your sleep (interrupted sleep is just as bad as only sleeping for a few hours).
Just as you should avoid food close to bedtime, the same thing goes for caffeine and nicotine. The stimulating effects can take hours to wear off. Also, despite what people say, you should avoid alcohol before bed. Some people believe alcohol makes you drowsy, and while some types do, it can disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night.
- Avoid Screens
Doctors recommend not using blue-light emitting devices like phones, iPads, laptops, and TVs, two hours before bed because it interrupts the natural production of the sleep-inducing chemical, melatonin, in our bodies.
Melatonin is produced as it gets darker outside. Our bodies know that night-time means sleep, so as daylight dwindles, our desire for sleep sets in. However, blue-light tricks our bodies into thinking its daytime. When melatonin production is disrupted, our desire to sleep and how soundly we sleep is disrupted with it.
It’s hard to limit the use of blue-light emitting devices two hours before bed, so try to aim for one hour and work your way up from there!
Exercise has been proven to help people fall asleep faster. It helps in three different ways:
- Exercise leads to an increase in physical activity which leads to more time in deep sleep
- Being physical increases your daily energy expenditure, which helps you feel more tired at night – helping you fall asleep faster.
- For some, exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which can wreak havoc on sleep. Incorporating exercise into your day can help expel some of those feelings to make falling, and staying, asleep easier.
- Keep it Cool
Keep your room cold while you sleep! Our body temperature decreases when we sleep and increases as we wake. So, sleeping in a warm room is highly disruptive to the body’s sleep process. It can cause interrupted sleep and night sweats. Also, a cold room increases melatonin production, which, as we covered earlier, promotes sleep!
*Bonus Tip: Sleep in very light fabrics. Heavy pajamas increase your body temperature.