7 Simple Ways to Help You Sleep Better

mehealth & fitness

Sleep Number hosted a #sleepnumber #gno Twitter party the end of December to discuss solutions for sleep issues, and boy was it needed! Based on the tweets, the #gno community definitely joins the more than 150 million Americans—almost half the population of the United States – who say they are not getting enough sleep. We discussed your sleep problems related to stress, kids, snoring husbands, sleep apnea, food, exercise, pregnancy, temperature swings, bed, pillows, pain, etc. and discussed why sleep is so important to your overall health and wellness (i.e. three times more likely to catch cold when exposed to common cold virus than those who sleep 8 hrs/night.)

Since so many of you are looking for a better night’s sleep, I wanted to share seven simple sleep tips from my colleague, @SleepGeekPete, a.k.a. vice president of Clinical Sleep Research at Select Comfort, tucked in with some additional learnings from our party.

Tips for Better Sleep

1. Minimize light. Darkness acts as a signal to the body to prepare for sleep. Dim the lights one hour before bedtime, keep blinds closed, and if that isn’t enough, consider room-darkening shades, or an eye mask.

2. Keep noise levels constant. Abrupt changes in noise levels can disrupt sleep. For light sleepers or those who live in high-traffic areas, consider using a white-noise machine to muffle sounds. Fans create a noise "floor" that diminishes any loud unexpected sounds.

3. Control bedroom temperature. The ideal room temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees and 65 percent humidity. Automatically program your thermostat to adjust to this temp at bedtime. If you’re too hot or cold, there are customizable bedding options to help you and your sleep partner snooze in temperature-balanced bliss; i.e. Sleep Number Create Your Perfect Comforter.

4. Maintain a “screen-free zone” in the bedroom. Watching TV or working on the computer stimulates the brain and may make it difficult to fall asleep. If you do need to be on your computer—say, for a late night Twitter party— set your monitor to the dimmest setting. Do not leave the TV on while sleeping.
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5. Keep a regular schedule and bedtime routine. Many of you have a routine for your kids or pets, but don’t follow the same diligence when it comes to your own bedtime routine.  A brief pre-bed routine signals to the body it’s time to unwind. Choose simple, stress-free activities such reading a book, journaling your to-do list so your mind is stress free while sleeping, stretching, taking a bath/shower, using aromatherapy, etc. Avoid switching bed times and wake times on the weekend; it will make the Monday back-to-work adjustment extremely tough.
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6. Avoid food, exercise, caffeine and alcohol before bed. Exercise stimulates the body and increases body temperature, which is counterproductive to sleep. A big meal before bedtime also competes with sleep and late meals may cause reflux. The body needs at least an hour to recover from exercise or meals before bedtime and it’s best if last meal is eaten no later than two-three hours before bed.

Caffeine has a half-life of about six hours, so try to avoid caffeine after noon, otherwise, the caffeine left in the body will impede sleep; i.e. 3 p.m. "get you through day" latte has half caffeine in your bloodstream when your body should be unwinding for sleep. And, while alcohol may help people feel sleepy, their sleep tends to be more fragmented and less rejuvenating overall.
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7. Choose bedding that fits the needs of both sleep partners. Skip the one-size-fits-all approach. Comfort can be personalized. Choose beds and bedding accessories that fit preferred sleeping positions and are proven to improve sleep quality, like adjustable Sleep Number beds, which are available at Sleep Number stores across the country.

How do you resolve to make sleep a priority in 2011?  Leave a comment below or connect with Sleep Number on Twitter or Facebook.

Sleep well everyone!

@SleepNumberSara

About @SleepNumberSara: Sarah works for Select Comfort, maker of Sleep Number beds. Founded more than 20 years ago and based in Minneapolis, Select Comfort Corporation designs, manufactures, markets and supports a line of adjustable-firmness mattresses featuring air-chamber technology, branded the Sleep Number® bed, as well as foundations and bedding collection accessories. SELECT COMFORT® products are sold through its approximately 400 company-owned stores located across the United States; select bedding retailers; direct marketing operations; and online at www.sleepnumber.com.  @SleepNumberSara is on Twitter Mon-Fri sharing sleep news, Sleep Number mattress & bedding deals and contests! You can also connect with her and Sleep Number on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sleepnumber.

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