Many of us suffer from insomnia but there are vastly different levels of the affliction. Some of you may find it difficult falling asleep, others can’t stay asleep. Insomnia is a debilitating and draining syndrome, and extreme sleep deprivation has resulted in rapid decline in mental health. Why let this happen to you when there are steps you can take to reclaim the phrase ‘I slept like a baby last night’. Many people boast 7 steps to better sleep, or 10 ways to sleep better -- but we are here to debunk these common claims and see if we can build upon them to offer you the best night sleep possible.
Myth 1: Naps
- Many publications claim that napping will hinder your night’s sleep, and although I can see the intuition in this observation, I have had different results. I find that napping is very important, but there are some things you should keep in mind when deciding to kick back for a power nap.
- Nap Regularly, or not at all: Like with anything, practice makes perfect. Somtimes you can feel lethargic after a full night’s sleep, and more commonly you will feel lethargic after a restless night. When these situations present themselves, it is not wise to take a nap, true, but if you make napping a habit it will become a natural part of your circadian rhythm.
- Calm the mind with Breathe: Use your nap time to decompress the vast amounts of stimuli we subject our brains to on a daily basis. Taking 5-10 deep breathes before your nap will increase blood flow, oxygen to the brain, and relaxation for a worthy nap.
- Put the Power in Power Nap: Many people have found the perfect nap duration to be around the 20 minute mark. Keep it short enough that you do not fall into a deep sleep causing you to snooze your alarm. When the 20 minutes is up, take 5 deep breathes and get up!
Myth 2: Exercise
- From our research, we have noticed a lot of publications suggest if you exercise, get it done early because you will be energized afterwards. The energizing effects of exercise are real, but we have found that no matter how vigorous the workout we can still get to sleep and stay asleep if we adhere to some basic rules.
- Maintain discipline with your workout routines. Of course I am not going to discourage your exercise in any amounts, but for best sleep results, eliminate any variability in your energy levels. Without a doubt people who exercise more often on average sleep better, so increase your frequency and stick to your plans.
- Stretch! No matter what your form of exercise is you should really consider stretching with deep breathing matching your slow movement afterwards. Even if your workout is Yoga, you might want to stretch before bed. (tip: Lay on your back and elevate both of your feet making a 90 degree angle with your hip, great for circulation)
Myth 3: Common Contradictions
- Two really common tips to sleep better contradict themselves, and we just wanted to bring this to light. Go to sleep only when you are truly tired seems like an easy enough rule to follow, but sometimes we find a conflict of interest with another recommendation for better sleep. Many people suggest that you follow a strict regimen of times to bed and times to rise. But how can you go to bed at the same time every night if you find yourself not truly tired.
- We do believe the key to obtaining great sleep every night is balance. Trust that you are making the right decisions when you eat healthy, exercise regularly, abstain from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and follow a strict sleep schedule. If for some reason you are not tired, or your mind is racing. Meditation is the best way we have found to calm the mind and become more tired. Also, we have noticed that if you read a book laying down you will become tired far quicker than if you were sitting upright or standing.
Your Mattress Zen Pillows
- Obviously your mattress, pillow, lighting, and ambient noise have an impact on the quality of your sleep. Take control of your surroundings and try your best to make improvements one by one to see the impact each can have.
- Air Quality: Breathing stale, stagnant oxygen all night can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. It’s wise to invest in an air purifier for this very reason. If you live in a house or apartment where people live directly above, you may notice an increase in dust particles which you typically breath all night.
- Hydration: While you sleep, the body is busy breathing but you may not have been aware that each exhale releases water from the body. You also typically perspire (sweat) while sleeping. This is why you must pre-hydrate before bed and be sure to drink a glass of cold water when you awake.