7 Tips For A Great Night Sleep
Do you suffer from Junk Sleep?
Junk sleep is a term that refers to using electronic devices before bed (and during sleep – like leaving the TV on) that actually causes changes in your body preventing you from getting a good nights sleep.
How does this happen?
Blue light from electronic devices (and energy efficient light bulbs) prevents the body from creating melatonin, the sleep hormone. Without proper levels of melatonin, you can’t enter deep sleep cycles, nor can you get your recommended 8 to 9 hours of quality unmedicated sleep per night.
Besides setting you up for a period of insomnia, Not sleeping well can have serious consequences such as mimicking the aging process, and reduced cognitive performance including the inability to form short-term memories along with higher disease risk and is linked to weight gain and decreased immunity.
How to Improve Your Sleeping Habits
It’s not too late to avoid the health consequences of poor sleep. Here are some natural ways to get better sleep each night.
Power Down: Shut down and unplug all electronic devices from the wall. Don’t use electronic devices for at least the hour before bed.
Room Environment: Keep your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees. At first thought, you might be thinking about your air conditioning bill however if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep a room that is too warm might be the culprit. Your body lowers its temperature naturally to initiate a sleep cycle so having a cool place can help facilitate your body’s temperature to decrease sooner.
Keep your room quiet: Any noise above 30 decibels can affect sleep. To put this in perspective Chicago street traffic is generally 70 decibels. Besides unplugging and turning off all electronics in your bedroom, when you lock up for the night do a walkthrough of your apartment and see what else you can turn off such as icemakers. Run your dishwasher and laundry so that it is finished before bedtime. If you live on a busy street or like us under one of O’Hare’s flight paths, some white noise is beneficial such as from a fan, air purifier, or white noise machine (keep under 50 dB). If someone in your family snores checkout some comfy earplugs.
As light promotes wakefulness, darkness promotes sleep: Take a look around your bedroom tonight, make note of any light you see, power buttons (another reason to unplug all electronics), get a battery-powered alarm clock that does not emit light until it goes off. Are street lights, alley lights, porch lights spilling into your room? If so, consider blackout curtains (which also block some noise).
Use Your Bedroom for Sleep Only: Be sure to only use your room for sleeping. Keep stressful activities such as homework or checking work e-mails out of the bedroom.
Keep your Bedroom Comfy and Clean: Use an air purifier and keep your room free of allergens and irritants. Use natural and hypoallergenic unscented laundry soap to prevent irritation. A weekly wash of sheets and biweekly wash of blankets is usually enough for most people. There is evidence that a light lavender smell may promote restful sleep – use natural essential oils. Also, make sure you are using a quality and comfortable mattress and a pillow that is sized right for you.
Create a Bedtime Routine: Develop an easy and fun routine that you can quickly follow each night to help prepare you for bed.
These are some of our favorites:
• Drink a relaxing chamomile tea; avoid alcohol as it impacts your sleep cycles.
• Lightly stretch for 10 to 15 minutes.
• Massage your children or partner for 5 minutes then get one in return.
• Finally, read a paperback or hardcover book; something fun and interesting but not stressful or sad.
**Do not use an e-reader or your phone for reading as this will cause you to stay up longer. Audiobooks are a great option for both kids and adults if books are part of your bedtime routine check out great selections available at the Chicago Public Libraries!