This post is sponsored by Mattress Firm. As always, all opinions are my own.
We all know the common culprits for poor sleep habits, like scrolling your smartphone close to bedtime, or slamming too much caffeine to beat the afternoon slump (it’ll still be coursing through your veins hours later). But did you know that something as seemingly benign as a cozy blanket can also throw off your internal clock?
Lately I’ve been feeling the effects of not-enough shut-eye. I’ve been a major case of compromised immunity, irritability and brain fog…not a good combo. So when Mattress Firm reached out to partner on a SUPER SECRET product launch, I jumped at the chance to share ways I could improve my sleep habits, and snag a few tips to try out in my own bedroom. More to come on that later this week, but in the meantime, all I can say is that it’s #TechToPowerOff. 🙂
One of the things that has surprised me most (and made the biggest difference already!) is the impact that temperature has on your sleep quality. The National Sleep Foundation says that optimal sleeping temperature is around 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit— the cold cues your body to get sleepy. Now, I’m someone who is always chilly, and climbing into my warm duvet is my favorite part of the day. So when I read 60-68, I thought, there’s no way. I was willing, however, to give it a try, and brought the temperature down a couple degrees from my regular 72F to see if it made a difference. And while it was a bit of an adjustment (brrr!) I noticed a BIG difference in restlessness (I wasn’t tossing and turning as much) and in restfulness (read: less cranky in the morning).
Other ways to stay cool while sleeping include choosing sheets made of natural (more breathable) fibers, drinking cool liquids before bed, or splurging on a hypoallergenic cooling gel pillow designed to pull heat away from your head.
Spring is the perfect season to refresh your sleep habits and bedtime routine, so if you find yourself constantly longing for quality sleep, take note of room temperature, as well as these other lesser-known disruptors. Making a few small changes may be all that’s between you, those ZZZs (and ultimately better health).
Exercising too late
Exercise can definitely help you sleep better – just as long as you fit it in well before you turn in. Late-night sweat sessions may work better for your work schedule, but they can also elevate energy and alertness; even if you’re someone who gets tired post-workout, experts recommend that you end your session at least three hours before bedtime. So instead of hitting the gym after work, switch to a morning or lunchtime routine – it’ll give your body more time to relax and recalibrate before you hit the hay.
Eating the wrong foods before bed
You ate a balanced dinner and had a healthy nighttime snack, so what’s the problem? As it turns out, even though your brain may be ready to snooze, your GI tract may still be working on harder-to-process foods like higher-fat meats (sorry, steak), caffeine-laced treats like chocolate, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower. Even spicy and fermented foods can keep your body ticking. Try sticking to easily digestible foods if you eat within three hours of bedtime so your system can fully process your meal before you nod off. Victim of the late-night munchies? Reach for foods that double as natural sleep aids, like tart cherries, bananas, and almonds.
Bad air quality
You don’t have to live in a big city to fall victim to bad air quality – everything from pet hair and mold to pollen and scented candles can release unhealthy toxins into your sleep space. According to the EPA, long-term exposure to those toxins can lead to some pretty nasty stuff, like respiratory and heart diseases, while short-term exposure can definitely mess with your sleep quality. Temperature plays a part, too: Setting your thermostat a little lower at night will help regulate your body temp for a deeper snooze.
Binge watching TV (a.k.a. “Sleep Procrastination”)
You know the drill: You’re super stoked to get a good night’s sleep, so you get into bed early. You turn on the TV to lull your brain into dreamland. Before you know it, “just one episode” has turned into a full-on Netflix binge even though all you really wanted to do was wind down. You’re not alone: According to a Dutch study published in Frontiers of Psychology, it’s a real thing called Sleep Procrastination. So the next time you get the inkling to turn on the tube, try streaming some pink noise – a mix of high and low frequencies that help with sleep in memory – into your ear buds instead.
Waiting to address your to-do list
Sleep should be the reward for checking off your to-do list – not the time when you’re making one or stressing over what you’ve still got to do. Get your thoughts out on paper (or on your smart pad, which will magically transfer your scribbles to your smartphone) so they’re not rattling around in your head all night.
Have you found any helpful tricks for better sleep? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Thanks so much for supporting Mattress Firm and all our sponsors. They help keep things afloat here at CarleyK.com!