This week (March 8-14), marks the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week, which aims to celebrate and promote healthy sleep practices. Considering that 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. don’t get adequate nightly sleep, it’s more critical than ever that we do what we can to get the sleep we need to feel strong and healthy.
And when we say “need”, we mean it. We often minimize the importance of sleep in favor of getting more done during the day, but when we’re sleep-deprived, whatever we do takes a major quality hit. Studies suggest that sleep plays a critical role in memory and learning, and a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on our mood, judgment, and motivation. And not only does sleep deprivation affect the way we think and feel, but it can also impact our body’s immune function and metabolism, leading to weight gain and illness.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps you can take to help ensure you get a good night’s rest, ranging from optimizing your bedroom’s aesthetic to steering clear of certain foods before bed.
Invest in a Pink Noise Machine
It’s common knowledge that noise machines can block out sounds that keep us awake at night, but did you know that the color of the noise matters most? Yes, we said color. Noise is actually scientifically categorized by color to denote how energy is distributed over various frequencies, with white noise being the most commonly recognized. But studies suggest that pink noise, which consists of more energy at lower frequencies and less energy at higher frequencies, can promote deeper sleep while enhancing our memory. Sounds in nature, like steady rain, wind, and even heartbeats emit pink noise naturally, but if you don’t want to wait for a rainy night, then a quick search on Google for “pink noise machine” will yield plenty of affordable results.
Maximize Your Aesthetic for Sleep
A lot of people don’t realize just how much of an impact their bedroom’s aesthetic can have on their sleep quality, particularly when it comes to clutter. Dr. Emerson Wickwire, psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told HuffPost that, “Physical clutter causes mental clutter, which activates the brain and negatively impacts sleep.” In addition to minimizing clutter, if you’re having trouble sleeping, then you should avoid incorporating lots of bright colors and patterns into your bedroom’s design, which can energize your brain, and opt for soothing, cool-toned hues, like soft grays, blues, and greens, instead.
Steer Clear of These Foods
Many of us already know that drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages near bedtime will mess with our ability to fall and stay asleep, but the foods you eat before bed can also have an impact on your nightly Zs. Fatty and spicy foods in addition to carbonated drinks can create indigestion in some people, causing them to wake up in the middle of the night. And foods high in sugar will spike your blood sugar, which causes sleep disturbances. Even cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, can hinder your sleep due to a large amount of fiber that takes a long time to digest. To prevent these foods from messing with your sleep cycles, stop eating them at least four hours before bedtime.
Get Rid of Blue Light
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t use electronics for at least an hour or two before bed, but for many of us, that’s just not realistic. If you don’t want to completely disconnect, then invest in a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. Research found that the blue light emitted from our phones and other electronic devices can disrupt our natural melatonin levels, a hormone that helps us fall and stay sleep. But a University of Houston study discovered that participants who wore glasses designed to block blue light showed a 58% increase in their nighttime melatonin levels, suggesting that the glasses promote better sleep.
Give Love to Your Bed
In addition to optimizing your overall aesthetic for sleep, you should do the same for your bed. If you’re lying on a lumpy pillow, scratchy sheets, or a subpar mattress every night, you’re unlikely to get the sleep you need. Investing in quality, breathable bedding and a mattress to match will work wonders to help you stay asleep while making the prospect of heading to bed that much more attractive. To find the right mattress for your body, consider the type of sleeper that you are. For instance, back sleepers tend to benefit most from the support of firm mattresses, while side sleepers should opt for mattresses that fall right in the middle of soft and firm.
Check out our Tipbook to find more inspiration and tips for how to improve and enhance your space.