1. Start With a Comfortable Mattress
Most of us are sleeping on old mattresses. Maybe it’s the mattress your mother bought you when you moved to college or even the mattress you bought right after your honeymoon but if it’s older than five years, the lumps and “the pit” have already begun to form. Older than ten years? Forget it. Mattresses aren’t as hard to buy or as astoundingly expensive as they used to be. If your mattress is old, invest in a new one, preferably one that breaths, wicks heat and moisture, and offers deliciously comfy support.
2. Make the Bed With Clean Soft Sheets
When was the last time you changed your sheets? Come to mention it, when was the last time you bought new sheets? Sheets can become a problem with your sleep surprisingly fast. Your skin oils can make subtly rough patches along with threadbare spots, “pilling”, and the inevitable few crumbs and specks of sharp dirt that sneak in over time. Clean sheets can make a huge difference in sleep quality. Make sure you are working with soft, relatively new sheets and wash/change them at least once a week.
3. Optimize for a Cool Sleeping Environment
The body has a natural association between activity and temperature. It considers heat to mean ‘daytime’ and therefore time to be awake and cold with ‘night time’ and time to be asleep. This is why you want to curl up and take a nap when your classroom or office is freezing cold. To help yourself get to sleep at night, turn the thermostat down to the point where you would normally put on a sweater and fluffy socks. You will also want to look into cooling bedding like a copper-infused mattress and sheets that wick heat.
4. Build a Bedtime Routine
Once the house begins cooling, start going through your bedtime ritual. These are things you should do every single night and will teach your brain to start anticipating sleep after you do them. Just like thinking about a meal for half an hour before you eat it can make it even more delicious (because your body has prepared the right enzymes to digest it), going through the same bedtime ritual every night can prepare your brain for sleep. Watch a final episode of tv or read a book chapter, brush your hair and teeth, lotion your skin, and anything else you like to do before bed in approximately the same order every night.
5. Take a Hot Bath or Shower Before Bed
Now it’s time to really give your body the temperature kicker. If you have a hot water bottle, slip it under the covers then take a steamy hot bath or shower that will raise your body temperature and relax your muscles. Take a cup of hot cocoa in there with you if that will make you feel more relaxed and luxurious. When you step out of the bath, the house should be nice and cold. If you start shivering a little on your way to the bedroom, know that your body is getting ready for a nice deep sleep.
As the water evaporates off your skin and cools your body, slip on your lightweight pajamas and dive into bed. You should be asleep about the time the sheets warm up around your body. If you used the hot water bottle trick, kick the water bottle out as you start to warm up. Close your eyes breath deeply, letting your mind gently wander. You’ll be drifting into a deep restful slumber in no time. Join us next time to find out how to wake up energized every morning, no matter how wonderfully deep your dream-time has been.