Sleep is a funny thing. As adults we would do just about anything to get one more minute of it, yet most kids beg to stay up for just 10 more minutes! It’s really no wonder that parents use sleep as the magic bean to children’s most endeared and beloved beliefs—Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny all come at the wee hours of the night and in order to sprinkle their love, the kiddos must be snoozing.
The power of sleep is like magic in and of itself. Brains work more efficiently, muscles perform stronger, appearance is fresher, and moods are happier after a night of REM cycling. Though waking up to quarters under the pillow may be incentive enough to hit the hay (laundry isn’t free these days), it’s not the going to bed that so many American adults have trouble with, it’s falling or staying asleep.
If you’re like so many who struggle with catching proper ZZZs, give up counting sheep and give these seven tips a try for one week to a better night’s sleep!
Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) is a Chinese belief that one should be in harmony with one’s environment to improve the energetic flow and health of one’s life. In practice, it is found in design and decoration of homes, office spaces, and in our case, the bedroom. A major principle in feng shui is de-cluttering—that is, tidying up and removing items that no longer hold meaning or purpose. Feng shui master and designer, Dana Claudet, recommends to clean your whole bedroom, including below your bed! She says, “beds stuffed with storage underneath (be careful you aren’t sleeping on top of bad memories or problems) … are similar to thoughts that run endlessly through your mind, creating energy blocks and heightening chaos rather than calm.”
On Day 1, try tidying up before you hit the lights and see how you feel the next morning.
Color plays a huge role in how our brain processes stimulus. Bright reds and warm tones invoke excitement, alertness, and passion. Though inherently those emotions aren’t bad, they aren’t exactly the calm feelings we want to experience when trying to get some solid sleep. According to a survey conducted by Travelodge, they found people who slept in rooms painted in cool tones, specifically blue hues, slept longer and had more restful hours of slumber.
If you want to put this theory to the test without painting your whole bedroom, try by changing up your bedding to a more serene and gentle hue or slapping wallpaper on your most bare view from bed.
Though catching a few midday minutes of shuteye is a dream, sleep experts recommend keeping those dreams to the day assortment. Meaning, keep your eyes open and brain fully functioning. The reason behind this — contrary to popular belief — is that sleep is meant to rejuvenate and re-fuel our brain and bodies to be alert and powerfully performing during the day; if we sleep during wake hours, it may throw off the sleep patterns are bodies need at night, therefore causing sleepless and restless nights.
And that’s it! Avoid doing homework, writing, social media stalking, video game playing, and pinning on Pinterest in your bed. Respect the sacred space of your bed and reserve its use for sleeping only so that when you finally climb in later in the evening, your body will feel right at home and hours of sleep will snuggle in.
Drinking (water mostly) before bed is a bit of a Goldielocks-type trial and error process. The folks at Harvard suggest that it is necessary to find the perfect balance of hydration for your body before bed. You want to drink enough so that you don’t get that 3 am cottonmouth wake up call, but not too much that you’ll need to tip toe down the hall to use the restroom or even be subconsciously uncomfortable while getting your snooze on. Give it a try this week and find the beverage consumption that is just right for you.
Muscle memory is used in sports to train the body to perform naturally without much thought. Training the body to sleep soundly is possible with a pre-bed routine. By doing the same acts in the same order every night you can train the body and mind that it is time to wind down and begin to slip into restful sleep. This routine can be the process of “getting ready for bed”—washing your face, brushing your teeth, putting on lotion—or drinking some (decaffeinated) tea and reading a few chapters in your book. Whatever this routine looks like for you, start it about 30 minutes to an hour before you wish to be sleeping, and remember to practice it every day. As they say, practice makes perfect!
Who doesn’t love sliding into fresh sheets and a neatly made bed? Part of the luxury of staying in hotels is that your bed is made for you every day. This lavish perk of vacation doesn’t have to be so foreign. When you wake up, make your bed. We sound like a nagging mother, but maybe she was on to something. Making your bed in the morning completes the full cycle preparing for a goodnight’s sleep. If your bed is made you will use it only for sleeping, pulling back the comforter at bedtime will become part of your nightly routine, and peacefully drifting off to dreamland will be a breeze.
Take a stab at these tools and you’ll be snoozing more soundly in no time. Sleep tight!