It’s a fact: getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep is good for you. We know being better rested not only makes us more mentally clear and physically energized for whatever the next day brings, but what might surprise some is how much our skin, mood, weight, immunity and even memory benefits from catching those all-important ZZZs.
Not all sleep is quality sleep, however. The goal is to reach a deep, deep slumber, otherwise known as REM. There are lots of things we can do to encourage a successful snooze! Below are some of my six best tips for creating an optimal sleep environment:
1. Shut It Down
Turn off any and all screens (tv, laptops and smart phones, too!) at least 45 minutes before bedtime. These activities rev us up, keeping our brains wired when we should be winding down. In addition, the glow of the screen actually delays the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Instead, I like to read a book or magazine.
2. Lights Out
Twinkling stars are dreamy however studies show that light signals our brains to be awake and therefore we get the best sleep in the pitch dark. Black out liners are concealed behind your existing curtains or shades, so you can keep the design you love and get the sleep you need.
3. Shut Eye
If your partner wakes up for water in the middle of the night and turns on the light (don’t you just love that?!) you’ll have nothing to worry about if you’re wearing a soft sleep mask.
4. Sleep Sounds
White noise machines produce low level soothing noises that tune out everything from neighbors bickering to barking dogs. You can always download an app to get those ambient sounds that will help you sleep tight, or try one of these noise machines to get the job done.
5. Rest Your Head
Pillows are sometimes underappreciated and thought of as a one-size-fits-all situation. That is not the case! Take the time to choose what type is right for you. Factor in whether you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper. Decide if you prefer a soft and cloud-like material or something firm and sturdy. The right pillow can make a major difference in your snoozefest.
6. Breathe Deep
Essential oils such as lavender, ylang-ylang, and chamomile promote relaxation. I don’t prefer to light candles when I’m about to go to bed because, hello danger! I do appreciate satchels, mists and diffuser sticks, which also get the scented job done.
Now that you know how important sleep is, what are you going to try first? I’m going to start with a little meditating before bed, reflecting on all the things I’m grateful for during the day and grabbing a good book! The key is creating a routine you can sustain and relaxes you. Hopefully you have the tools to do it now!
Photography by Samantha Marquart