This one thing is true: I love to sleep. I mean, who doesn’t? Much like our favourite pizza toppings (pineapple debate, anyone?), our self-care habits are distinctive and varied. Maybe you get a boost of vitality from a kale smoothie, or your day turns around by reading uplifting affirmations. Self-care isn’t one size fits all. But there’s this one universal truth – the golden ticket to everyone’s wellness journey involves indulging in some seriously splendid sleep.
But, let’s be real for a second If your bedtime ritual involves endlessly scrolling through your FYP and sneakily catching up on the latest Netflix series until you can’t keep your eyes open, well, I hate to break it to you. That’s not the fast track to living, laughing and loving your best life.
Why Is sleep important?
According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, women are more likely than men to suffer from lack of sleep. Women are 40 per cent more likely to have insomnia, but on average they need more sleep due to factors like changing hormones – our bodies are doing a lot on a regular basis, OK!
The good news? Improving your sleep care could be the health-changing step you are missing in your current wellness routine.
While we all know sleep is crucial to our health, overall, many Canadians are not getting enough. Just 16 per cent of Canadians report getting a restful sleep every night of the week. Research has shown that lack of quality sleep has been linked to serious health issues, like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. But don’t let that information give you a new reason to lie awake at night. Instead, see it as a reminder to cut back on Netflix and swap it for reading or meditation.
Any of you who’ve pulled an all-nighter can vouch for the fact that a lack of sleep makes you feel moody. Not fun. And it’s not just about feeling grumpy. Poor sleep impacts mental health, causing stress, anxiety and depression.
Good sleep benefits our memory and learning. Those facts that you kept forgetting when studying last minute for a test? If you’d had a good night’s sleep, they could’ve just slid into your memory.
Set yourself up for a successful slumber with these tried-and-trusted sleep tips:
Create a sleep routine
Not everyone can expect to come home from a busy day of work, then eat dinner, work out, clean the house, and fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. It involves more than deciding your bedtime is 9 p.m. Most of us need time to decompress from the day. The secret to a restful night’s sleep is to enter a mentally and physically relaxed state.
Experts suggest journaling, meditating, yoga stretches (no power flows), pampering yourself with a skincare routine, drinking chamomile tea, taking some CBD, or reading a soothing book (save the thrillers for daytime) to calm the mind and the body. For me, I take a 2.5 milligram Goli Sleep Gummy, have tea and write in my copy of The Five Minute Journal.
Take note of what relaxes you and winds down your mind. These rituals will eventually signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep. How can you incorporate those things into your nightly routine?
Lower your body temperature
I despise being warm in bed. I need the room to be frigid and for my bed to feel warm and cozy. There’s nothing worse for me than feeling hot and trapped under the sheets.
I chatted with Christina Bergman Ribel, a happiness coach and a sleep planner at the Sleep Plan. She has clients who she calls ”hot sleepers.” These are “people that tend to feel too warm at night, and are never able to rest or sleep well.” If that’s you Bergman Ribel recommends: “Start your bedtime routine by letting air into the bedroom. Open the windows, if possible, to let fresh air in or set the AC to cool the room down to 18- to 19-degrees [Celcius]. Take a short cold shower before bedtime to bring your body temperature down. [Finally,] have a glass of cold water on your bedside table.” The last tip, if you’re up for it, is to sleep naked.
FLEETSTREET tip: Not into sleeping naked? We’ve got you. Opt for a lightweight material pyjama set like the one they use at Seray. Made of 90% TENCEL Modal and 10% Spandex, a fabric that is rated 2x softer than cotton. It’s also the most sustainable option on the market, so you can feel good slipping into it.
Invest in your rest
Your bed isn’t just a piece of furniture; it’s where you spend about one-third of your life. A good mattress matters, says Christian Schmidt, owner of Black Sheep Mattress.
“Every person is different,” says Schmidt. For his company’s built-to-order and completely custom mattresses, he and his staff ask their customers to describe the firmness of a mattress that typically gives them their best sleep. They also ask about sleeping style (front, side, back or a combination), and if they get any aches and pains in the morning. He tells me that front and back sleepers typically enjoy a firmer mattress, and side sleepers opt for a softer mattress. That said, it really depends on the individual. Schmidt even recommends that couples customize their sides when they have different tastes.
The Black Sheep, devon mattress is split down the middle and completely custom to that person’s side. Schmidt says, “It’s perfect for couples because the dual-profile option allows each partner to choose the ideal firmness level for their side of the mattress, while the pocket coil springs help to minimize movement transfer.” How cool is that?
Bergman Ribel also suggests investing in comfortable bedding. “It can play an important role in enhancing the quality of the sleep you get. The best sheets for someone who gets hot during the night, even the ones considered ‘heavy sweaty sleepers,’ are made from naturally blended breathable fibres.” Look for options like cotton, linen, or bamboo sheets, as they are known for their moisture-wicking properties and breathability, ensuring a cooler and more comfortable sleep experience.
FLEETSTREET tip: try a weighted blanket. The concept is straightforward: the blanket’s pressure induces your body’s relaxation response, much like the calming effect of a warm cup of chamomile tea. This signals your nervous system to unwind and de-stress. The hand-knitted weighted Silk & Snow blanket is even customizable in weight!
Let’s have pillow talk
Choosing the right pillow is an essential, yet often overlooked aspect of achieving a comfortable and restful night’s sleep. The search for the perfect pillow can be a personalized mission. Larissa Hildebrandt, the founder of Henrie, a premium pillow brand says, “The wrong pillow can cause discomfort, disrupted sleep, congestion, worsened snoring, and even pain that lasts long after you wake up. The right one can do the opposite. Finding the right pillow for you can be a simple switch that makes a big impact on your sleep, and a good night’s sleep can have a domino effect on your overall health and wellbeing.”
For buying tips, Hildebrandt says, “The correct loft – the pillow‘s height – is one of the most critical factors. Your pillow plays a major role in keeping your neck in alignment, which can affect the overall quality of your sleep.” Hildebrandt adds, “Improper alignment of your neck and spine as you’re sleeping can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, cause snoring, and even lead to pain in the morning.”
Looking at the material of your pillow, too. For example: “If you’re someone who struggles with allergies or wakes up feeling congested, the materials in your pillow could be to blame.” Invest in hypoallergenic pillow covers and regularly wash both the pillowcases and the pillows themselves using hot water to eliminate dust mites and allergens. If the problem persists, it may be worth exploring alternative pillow fillings like memory foam or natural latex, which are less likely to harbour allergens.
The Henrie pillows use a certified memory foam made without irritants, such as formaldehyde. Hildebrandt chose to mix their pillows with kapok, a natural, fluffy fibre that’s a soft, biodegradable and cruelty-free alternative to down and polyester that may aggravate allergies.
FLEETSTREET tip: Match your pillow height with your mattress type. Softer mattresses demand taller pillows, while more firm ones pair well with flatter pillows.
Make your bedroom a luxurious retreat
Now you know what you need to curate a bedroom sanctuary with all the essentials for a restorative sleep. Once your bedroom is ready for some ZZZs, turn down the bed an hour before your bedtime. Light a candle with a scent you enjoy. Keep hand lotion next to the bed, alongside your glass of water. Maybe put a piece of dark chocolate on the pillow. Dim the lights and have fuzzy socks or soft blankets on your bed. Then when it’s time to hit the hay your bed is an alluring part of your day. You’ll look forward to going to sleep.