It's that time of year again. No, not just tax season (March 15th/April 15th) and daylight savings time (March 11th, 2am)... but National Sleep Awareness Month (all March long)!
Now, we could bury you in basic facts and myths about sleep, but we'll leave that to the National Sleep Foundation and their sister site, Sleep.org. Both sites contain more knowledge about sleep than you'll ever want to know, and we highly recommend spending time there if you are struggling with your sleep health.
Instead, today we'll talk about a few ways to invest in your sleep. If you were to think of improving your energy throughout the day, getting better recovery after strenuous workouts, improving your general mood, or improving work or personal relationships as returns, then a great place to invest to achieve those returns is in your sleep.
Invest your TIME to Sleep Better
First, make sure you are allowing enough time for healthy sleep, generally about 8 hours. Also allow 20-30 minutes to not rush to bed. Rushing to bed while concerned about an early rise is generally not conducive to healthy sleep. Instead, establish a pre-sleep routine. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a “relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime” as one of their many sleep tips. This 20-30 minutes allows one to unwind and begin to relax ahead of actually laying down to sleep. You should begin the routine shutting down computers and tv's, running the dishwasher, and getting changed into sleepwear. This is also a great time to enjoy a delicious sleepyhead while you complete your routine, followed by brushing your teeth, and then... lights out!
Invest in your bedding to Sleep Better
If you haven't bought a mattress in over a decade, it might be worth considering, as there have been many innovations in recent years.
Sleep6 might have a solution for those who struggle with sleep temperature - they offer an innovative mattress with a technology called Responsegel® which “allows you to sleep at the right temperature".
Are you one of the many who prefer the weight of a comforter even when its warm? Well now there is a weighted blanket called Gravity designed “to relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged. This increases serotonin and melatonin levels and decreases cortisol levels"... all conducive to sleep.
We are also now living in the age of the "smart" mattress. Eight offers a mattress with built in sleep-tech that tracks sleeping patterns, manages temperatures, and integrates with other smart-home technology such as the Nest thermostat and Amazon's Alexa.
Invest in technology to Sleep Better
Most of your technology is more likely to interfere with you sleep, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are an abundance of apps, wearables, and other devices that promote better sleep. Among them, Beddit is a device designed to be hidden under your sheet, rather than to be worn, which automatically tracks sleeping patterns and stages of sleep, and includes a feature that detects snoring. Fitbit offers wearables, namely the Alta HR and Ionic models which automatically track sleep duration and consistency, including light, deep, and REM sleep stages to help users understand the quality of their sleep. Sonic Sleep Coach is an virtual sleep coach app which offers alarms, sleep sounds, tracks sleep patterns, and more. Lastly, if you are the type that works late in front of your computer, spare your eyes the white and blue wavelengths... install flux on your PC or use Apple's Night Shift if you use an Apple device.
Invest in your nutrition to Sleep Better
Most people counter poor sleep with caffeine first thing in the morning. Coffee, energy drinks, tea, whatever the source... caffeine is seen as a solution, but as we've written before, it's a temporary solution at best. Instead, avoid caffeine during the day and reward yourself with a bed-time snack. Nutritionist Danielle DeGroot discusses bedtime snacking, and provides some key insight as to how a "snack composed of a variety of macronutrients (protein, healthy fat/complex carbs)" might aid sleep as it "will slow digestion, keeping you satisfied longer, offer more nutrition and regulate blood sugars better throughout the night". Apple with almond butter, yogurt with granola, and a handful of other recommendations are mentioned in Danielle's write-up. Of course, sleepyhead is a delicious bed-time snack, and contains the nutritional supplements melatonin, GABA, and valerian root, each of which aid in achieving a return on your sleep.
If you want those returns, you need to invest! Use code NSAM to save 20% through the end of National Sleep Awareness Month 2018!