Sleep in the Spotlight
The average person spends about 26 years of their life sleeping. Surprisingly, we also spend about 7 years of our life trying to get to sleep!
What’s so special about sleep that makes us spend 1/3 of our lives in bed? Sleep is an essential function, as important to us as oxygen, food and water. Sleep allows our body and mind to recharge, making us feel alert and ready to take on each new day. It improves concentration, regulates our mood, and sharpens our decision-making skills. Getting adequate rest also helps to prevent excessive weight gain and illnesses such as heart disease.
We have much more control over our sleep than we might think. We can improve our sleep quality by making changes in our daily lifestyle, night-time routine, and the environment we surround ourselves in. And these small changes might help to reduce the 7 years of our lives we spend trying to get to sleep in the first place.
6 Factors Impacting Our Sleep and Tips on How to Improve them
Our sleep is affected by our circadian rhythm, or our body’s natural process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle throughout the day. During the day light exposure signals to our master clock to stay alert and at night the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, tells us to stay asleep. Although sleep is a biological process out of our direct control, we can help to signal to our master clock when it is time to unwind for the night. We look at factors that impact our sleep and how we can adapt our lifestyle and environment to promote better sleep in these areas.
Snooze Food and Sleep Killers
Our sleep is affected by what put in our body, especially in the hours leading up to night-time. It is important to be mindful of what we eat and drink, so we don’t find ourselves having trouble falling asleep.
Don’t go to bed hungry or too full: any discomfort could keep you up. If you feel hungry during the night try to eat a small, light snack.
Steer clear of foods difficult to digest: this includes high fat or protein rich foods such as red meat and fried foods.
Eat foods that aid sleep: snooze foods include bananas, milk, nuts and olives.
Avoid nicotine and alcohol before bed: these have stimulating effects which can take several hours to wear off. Alcohol makes us feel sleepy, but lowers the quality of our sleep.
Coffee is another sleep killer. As nutrionist Henriette Saevil explains: "Do not drink coffee after 14:00 in the afternoon. Caffeine can stay in our blood stream up to 12 h after the last cup, hence disrupting sleep"
A healthy routine
Establishing a healthy sleep/wake routine helps to regulate our internal master clock, signalling when it is time to sleep. Help your body know when it is time to relax and focus on winding down for the night.
Switching off: reducing blue light exposure by turning off electronic gadgets one hour before going to bed can help you fall asleep faster. Blue light supresses our production of melatonin, the chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock.
Establish a sleep schedule: try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays.
Bedtime ritual: start to wind down by creating a ritual that signals to our bodies that it is time to relax. Try taking a warm bath or shower, listen to relaxing music, or read a book. As sleep coach Gary Allman suggests, "Journal. This has changed my life and will change yours. Empty your thoughts and feelings onto a page and you'll feel 100 times more relaxed at night".
Breathing and relaxation exercises: when we breathe slowly and relax our body temperature drops, which helps us fall asleep.
Sleep for Health
Most adults need 6 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Our sleep rhythm changes over time, so the older we get the earlier we feel ready to fall asleep and wake up. For the best night’s sleep try to adapt your sleeping hours to your body’s natural clock.
Try to limit your nap: ensure your afternoon nap is not longer than 30 minutes so that it doesn’t impact your night-time sleep.
Wear the right pajamas: many people suffer from night sweats, with menopausal and pregnant women particularly susceptible. Wearing temperature regulating pajamas, keeping the bedroom cool, and having a glass of ice water close to the bed can help. NHS Doctor Ally Jaffee recommends to create a restful environment by having: "cool temperature in your room, dark curtains/blinds, or wear a sleep mask to keep the light out..and ensure minimal noise".
Health conditions and medication: Sometimes health conditions and medications can disrupt sleep. Contact your physician if you think you may have a severe sleeping problem, such as insomnia.
Set the mood for sleep
Lying down in bed wide awake with thoughts racing through your mind..sound familiar? It makes it difficult to fall asleep when our mind is still awake. With these tips, we hope you can set the mood for sleep, leaving activities and thoughts for the next new day.
To do list before going to bed: note down what is on your mind and set is aside for tomorrow. Keep a pen and paper next to your bed so you don’t activate your brain trying to remember them.
Progressive muscle relaxation: if you can’t sleep, work through your body from your toes to the tip of your head, tensing each of your muscles and then relaxing completely.
Avoid working just before going to bed: leave your laptop, mobile phone, and any worries behind the bedroom door.
Set your mind up for sleep: Logan Dawson, professional healer, recommends using affirmations: "Reciting sleep affirmations. Set an intention for your beauty sleep! My favorites are: I release the day. I deserve rest now. I am allowed to take a break. I will feel refreshed tomorrow. I release anything that did not go well today."
Move, sleep repeat
Including exercise into your routine can reduce sleep onset, or the time it takes to fall asleep. By decreasing the amount of time we lie awake in bed each night, we are more likely to establish a healthier sleeping routine.
Regular exercise: regularly exercising helps us to fall asleep faster and sleep better. Doing sports for at least 150 minutes a week can improve sleep quality by 65%. Laura, a personal trainer, explains: "Physical activity decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the time spent in deep sleep."
Avoid exercising close to bed: avoid exercising 2 hours before going to bed as we might be too energised or too warm to fall asleep.
Go outside: exposure to natural sunlight helps keep our sleep-wake cycle on track.
Exercising can increase total sleep time by up to 1.25 hours!
Make it a room for sleep
It is important to create a bedroom environment that signals to the body that it is time to power off for the day and rest. Try implementing these tips the next time you are ready to crawl into bed:
Room temperature: aim to keep the room temperature below 18°C / 64.5°F.
Darkness: try to keep the bedroom light to a minimum. Look out especially for electronic devices that give off blue light. If need be use a sleep mask.
Harmonic colors: the bedroom should be dark but peaceful. Charlotte Magda, interior stylist, recommends: "When it comes to the interior and walls in your bedroom, use soft colors - they tend to calm us down. Meanwhile, bright colors energizes us – not a good idea when you are meant to relax and fall asleep."
White Noise: ear plugs or electronic devices that make white noise can be helpful to drown out disturbing sounds.
Sleepwear and bedding: it is important to use the right fabrics that help the body release excess heat and moisture. Charlotte has her favorite tip: "I used to have a problem of feeling too hot or too cold at night. And now I have found a perfect solution for it – I am sleeping in @dagsmejan_sleepwear. It is one of the softest pj’s I've ever tried. Made out of beechwood fibers, it is keeping my temperature at balance all night."
Create a healthy sleeping environment with temperature regulating sleepwear
We spend money investing in our daily clothes that we wear to work, to school, to run errands, and even for sports. If we spend almost 1/3 of our life in bed, why don’t we also invest in our sleepwear? Dagsmejan sleepwear uses the finest natural fibres combined with the latest textile technologies to create a comfortable sleeping environment and to solve individual sleep needs. Sustainably and ethically made in Europe, our sleepwear keeps you in the ideal sleeping temperature so we can sleep deeper and longer. Help set the mood for sleep with our three collections of sweat wicking pajamas.