There’s no denying it: Sleep is one of the most fundamental pieces of the wellness puzzle. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to focus, regulate our moods or stave off harmful diseases. But despite that, getting a good night’s rest is a massive challenge for many. In fact, the American Sleep Association (ASA) reports that as many as 70 million adults have a sleep disorder, with insomnia being the most common one. That means that a good portion of the population has trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep each and every night.
These numbers mean good news and bad news, depending on how you look at them. They’re bad because, well, the obvious: many of us are walking around zapped of energy, unable to go about our lives in healthy or productive ways. They’re good because it means that those who struggle with sleep disorders are far from alone and there are many excellent resources out there to help. At Gravity Blankets, it’s our goal to help you soak up those sweet restorative hours consistently so you can be your absolute best self no matter what.
In this guide, we’ll go over some tips and tricks on how to sleep better, ranging from the obvious (turn off your phone before bedtime) to the not-so-obvious (hello, weighted blankets).
Why Sleep Matters
But first, the basics: Why does sleep matter anyway? The reality is that sleep is one of the body’s most fundamental requirements, and its necessity is not overblown. To be healthy and provide your body with everything it needs to thrive, consistently high-quality sleep is not an option, but a requirement.
It has never been more clear how crucial sleep is to good health. In the past few decades, scientists have found that sleep is closely linked to all of our body’s core functions, down to eating, drinking and breathing. While we might not see these mechanisms in action, we can feel them. We all know how poor sleep affects us on a day-to-day basis, preventing us from focusing, properly processing emotions and leaving us zapped of the energy required to go about our daily lives in a healthy way.
But sleep isn’t just about the obvious daily maintenance. Over time, poor sleep can contribute to some serious long-term health concerns as well. This is because high-quality sleep “recharges” the body, facilitating certain bodily processes so that everything works at their best. Without it, our bodies are unable to work as they should, which can lead to more dire health consequences. This is why poor quality sleep has been linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, among other significant issues.
Building a Routine for Good Dreams
Our top tip for getting the best rest? Get hip to good sleep hygiene. What is sleep hygiene, you ask? In short, it refers to your ability to follow a stable sleep schedule and set yourself up for the best quality sleep each and every night. It may involve everything from picking out the right pajamas to following a set bedtime every night. Here are some of the best tips to overhaul your sleep hygiene.
- Go to bed at the same time every night. You know that internal clock people are always talking about? It’s real, and it can be trained. That means that your body learns and adapts to consistency. If you go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, your body is much more likely to switch to autopilot for consistently good sleep. Notice we didn’t say “go to bed earlier!” Earlier isn’t necessarily better for everyone. Your sleep style, schedule and climate will have an impact on when you need to wake up and begin your day. More importantly, just make sure to be consistent with the time you rise.
- Dress to dream. If you’ve ever tried to sleep in jeans, you already know why picking out the right sleepwear is so important. Your pajamas can help regulate temperature, wick away moisture and eliminate points of pain or discomfort. You might also consider investing in a weighted eye mask that will help block out light and provide gentle pressure to help you relax.
- Ditch the screens. Sorry, late-night scrollers, but the research is in and your smartphone or TV screen may be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. According to the experts, the light emitting from screens can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm by delaying the production of melatonin (the hormone in our body that tells us when it’s time to sleep).
- Create a bedtime “no-no” list. Setting your body up for a night of deep sleep starts with keeping certain foods, beverages and substances off the table. For example, certain foods and drinks — caffeine, alcohol and even chocolate — can act as stimulants that can send your mind into a frenetic or energized state, preventing you from calming down and settling in for the night. You also want to make sure you avoid any stimulating drugs, including nicotine, before bedtime.
- Be careful what news or entertainment you consume. Just like certain foods and drinks should be off-limits, so too should some content. If you’re a naturally anxious person or tend to suffer from nightmares, make sure you’re conscious of everything you consume pre-bedtime. Don’t watch, listen to or read any content that could trigger stress, worry, anxiety or fear.
- Consider natural supplements. While there’s no miracle cure for insomnia or other sleep disorders, there are some pretty impressive natural supplements that may help you lap up some high-quality Zzzs. For example, melatonin supplements may help your body get to sleep faster if you struggle to fall asleep. Some people also find relief with CBD, valerian root and GABA.
- Take the pressure off. When you struggle to fall asleep, try your best not to beat yourself up if you’re not asleep at the exact time you wanted to be. This will only stress you out and cause you to fall into a state of negative thinking, which will prevent you from falling (and staying) asleep.
Create a Serene Sleep Sanctuary
In addition to preparing the mind and body for a good night of sleep, you’ve also got to prepare your environment. The truth is that certain environmental factors — whether it be noisy traffic outside your window or sheets that trap in sweat — can distract you from high-quality sleep. Here’s how to go big with a dream-inducing sleep space.
- Set the right temperature. Everybody has a different ideal sleep temperature, but for most people, it’s somewhere around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We all know that temperature is crucial to a long night of productive sleep, and feeling too hot or too cold is a surefire way to rip you out of a sweet slumber. Adjust the temperature as needed with a cooling blanket, a ceiling fan, air conditioning or blackout curtains that help seal out heat and cold throughout the year.
- Get the light right. Of course, it’s natural for your body to respond to light as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get the day going. But most of us don’t follow the sun’s schedule. Because of this, keep the light in your bedroom controlled with blackout curtains or blinds.
- Play sounds that lull you to sleep. Many people struggle to fall asleep at bedtime because of a mind that won’t stop racing and thoughts that won’t seem to quiet down. Because of this, it can be helpful to create a sleep environment with some soft sounds or white noise. Just be sure to choose sleep sounds that help you relax and aren’t so loud they prevent you from dozing off.
- Emit dream-inducing smells. For ages, aromatherapists have been using pleasant scents to encourage deep, restful sleep. Soothing, natural aromas — think: lavender, chamomile, bergamot, valerian root, sage, etc. — can help you settle into a serene state of mind so you fall asleep faster and have happy, aromatic dreams. Just make sure to keep your aromatherapy sleep safe (AKA: no burning candles)!
Build the Perfect Bed
The bed is the crown jewel of your bedroom, so we think it should get its very own category. An uncomfortable mattress or the wrong bedding can prevent you from settling in and dozing off for the long-run. On the other hand, putting the time into each and every piece of bedding so it’s tailor-made to you and your sleep style will pay off handsomely in the form of sweet, sweet dreams.
- Meet the weighted blanket. Have you heard about weighted blankets? These cozy bed toppers are designed to provide you with a gentle, weighted hug to help relax the nervous system before bed. If you struggle from nighttime anxiety or simply have trouble falling asleep, snuggling up with a weighted blanket is an excellent way to set yourself up for success.
- Set the stage (and the bed) with premium sheets. Sheets are a crucial yet often overlooked component of a healthy sleep routine and swapping yours out can go a long way to helping you rest at your best. Sheets of the wrong weight or fabric can disrupt your sleep by causing you to feel too hot, too cold or physically uncomfortable throughout the night. We recommend investing in a good set of sheets and pillow cases, preferably one made with thermoregulating materials that help you stay cool while wicking away sweat and moisture.
- Go pillow shopping. For some people, finding the right pillow is a lifelong pursuit. Thickness, firmness, size and shape — these things all matter to your physical comfort and can either help or hinder quality of rest. Since there are many different options to consider and factors at play, you might consider trying a fully customizable pillow which allows you to adjust the removable inner fill to suit your desired level of firmness.
- Get yourself a good-quality mattress. We probably don’t have to explain to you how sleeping on a good mattress can improve your sleep, but did you know it may actually prevent long-term musculoskeletal issues and back pain? And if you’re still sleeping on an old-school mattress, you’ll undoubtedly see your sleep quality improve when you switch to a coil-foam hybrid mattress that provides that perfect mix of sweet support and serene softness.
One More Thing: Rule Out Anything Serious
Insomnia may seem harmless, but it’s also linked to serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and Parkinson’s disease, as well as mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Always make sure to consider your sleep habits as part of the bigger picture of health and bring up any other concerns to your doctor.
As we already mentioned, insomnia and other sleep disorders are some of the most common disorders in the world, so having one certainly does not indicate that there’s a bigger issue at play. However, if you find that your sleep issues coincide with other concerns and symptoms, it may be worth speaking to your doctor to help rule out anything more serious.
No One-Size-Fits-All Cure
Struggling with sleep? The truth of the matter is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting better sleep. In reality, most people must take a few different steps to ensure that they get high-quality sleep each and every night. But no matter what ends up working for you, one thing is for certain: Getting into a solid sleep groove is by far one of the best things you can do for your health and wellness.