Maranda Pleasant, Editor-in-Chief
In addition to exercising, eating cleaner and trying to absorb a little sun, here are a few lifestyle changes you can make for deeper, higher quality sleep.
My sleep essential is a heatable pack of seeds with lavender, and it’s my favorite. It adds weight, heat and scent for a trifecta relaxation combo. Drape it around your neck or over your stomach or back. When traveling, I ask the flight attendant or hotel to warm it up in their microwave.
1. Inhaling lavender before bed.
Scent can have a powerful effect on your mood and energy level. Use aromatherapy to fill your bedroom with aromas that ease anxiety and promote relaxation, like lavender, frankincense, myrrh and clary sage. I use a sleep inhaler from rareESSENCE essential oils, especially when my mind is 90 to nothing.
2. Shower in the evening.
The heat from a warm shower sends the message to your nervous system that it’s time to relax and slow down, encouraging you to feel sleepy.
3. Never underestimate the power of a comfortable bedroom.
If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning because of a steamy room or lumpy mattress, you know that feeling uncomfortable can keep you up all night, and if you suffer from any kind of chronic pain, the entire issue becomes a lot worse.
4. Shut down electronics in the evening.
The light emitted from your smartphone or computer is like an electronic shot of caffeine to your system. It leaves your brain feeling wired, rather than relaxed and ready for sleep. Make sure you turn off your devices at least an hour before turning in. I know, I know, but just try!
Check Your Bedroom:
Let’s pro-snooze your sleep room. Consider making these changes:
Personally, I always wear an eye mask. Exposure to artificial light when you’re trying to snooze suppresses your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Use blackout curtains, put dark tape over your clock or music system.
Tune Out the Racket.
I always wear ear plugs and have a fan to drown out any extra noise. I even travel with a portable fan. Seriously. You can also invest in a white noise machine to block distracting sounds. Earplugs are your best friend on planes, in hotels or when you need to concentrate at work.
Choose a natural mattress.
If your mattress is more than five to seven years old, it could need replacing. A worn-out or chemical-filled mattress can cost you a good night’s sleep. If your bed shows signs of wear or you consistently wake up sore in the morning with back and/or neck pain, numbness, stiffness and aches, these are potential signs that it’s time to replace your mattress.
You’ll sleep better with lower temperatures. Experiment with the thermostat to see what’s right for you.
Pick soft, comfy bedding.
Stick with bedding made from natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and linen. Avoid sheets that are too scratchy—my number one peeve. I know I’m neurotic, but when I travel to foreign countries known for scratchy bedding, like Italy, I’ll have a fitted sheet with me.