If you're like most people, you may not overthink about your bedtime routine until your sleep begins to suffer. Once even mild sleep deprivation sets in, anxiety ensues, and you probably start looking for solutions. You may Google questions like, "How can I get to sleep?" Or "Why can't I get to sleep?" Often the answers zero in on one problem area like stress, anxiety, or sleep apnea. While these are important issues to address, sometimes people struggle to get to sleep just because they do.
We know sleep is essential for our whole self. In other words, sleep replenishes the body by repairing tissue; it restores the brain by making you feel refreshed; it rejuvenates your mental abilities by bringing clarity to thought; it uplifts our emotional state. A good night's sleep is critical to our entire well-being. Therefore, we suggest a holistic approach to sleep that incorporates the whole self in the act of sleeping.
If sleep is eluding you, try incorporating all five of your senses into your sleep routine. Here are some tips to get you started.
Often the visual stimuli in the room can have an overpowering effect on whether we can fall asleep. Of course, after we lie down in bed, we close our eyes to go to sleep. But here are three ways light and other visual stimuli may affect our quality of sleep.
Too much external light "stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to parts of the brain that controls hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide-awake," says the National Sleep Foundation. Make sure your bedroom is dark enough to block out additional light.
Blue light from a computer or mobile phone right before bed also contributes to sleep challenges. The blue light interferes with the body's natural production of melatonin, which is essential for a healthy sleep cycle. If you must use a computer or phone before bed, you can install a blue light filter app that will stop the interference.
Did you know a cluttered environment could cause stress, which, in turn, interrupts sleepiness? It makes sense because when you see a dirty room, you may start worrying about finding the time to clean it up. Keeping your bedroom neat will eliminate this stress.
Some people need complete silence when they go to sleep, while others prefer gentle background noise. Sound machines or downloadable apps that play "white noise" help other people get to sleep. A white noise machine may be a good idea because it will block out any other noises that could potentially wake you up once you have fallen asleep.
It's believed that the sense of smell is the most robust sense, and it's one that evokes a tremendous amount of emotion too.
The smell of hot cinnamon rolls wafting out of a donut shop can trigger a sense of nostalgia. A fragrant spray of lilacs may bring with it a flood of emotions. Even the smell of rain can cause feelings to surface.
For this reason, smells are an essential part of the bedtime routine. Lavender has long been an aroma that calms the senses and aids in sleep, but it's not the only one. According to Sleep.org, Jasmine delivers even more of a relaxing tonic for those craving a good night's rest. Valerian is another root that has calming properties. Many people ingest Valerian to aid in sleep, but one study concluded that smelling this substance would help people sleep better, too.
Our sense of touch plays a massive part in fighting off insomnia. Many factors play a role in how touch transfers to the bedroom. The mattress can provide comfort and support to help the weary person or give the person a lumpy, uncomfortable night of tossing and turning.
Some people want extra firm support, while others need semi-firm support. Then, of course, many people prefer the innerspring style mattress made with some coil structure, while others enjoy the feeling of gel-infused memory foam. Memory foam mattresses have a spongy feel to them. When you lie down, your body sinks in and surrounds you. Some people prefer this type of touch sensation. Other people like the light feeling from the innerspring coils. It's so essential to find the touch that will cradle your body in all the right ways.
In addition to these choices, you also have the choice between a pillow-top mattress or a flat-top mattress. Other mattresses, such as the Thermic Phase Change Cooling Fabric, provide just enough cooling for a restful night. Experts say the perfect temperature for optimal sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees for adults. For those people who want to add cooling to the top of their mattress, you can get a cooling topper.
Finally, sheets are the first thing that touches your body. Some people have reactive skin and require the ultra-smooth, luxurious texture of tencel sheets. These sheets, made from the fibers of raw eucalyptus trees, are stunningly soft and elegant. Or maybe you prefer the authentic Egyptian cotton sheets that caress the body and ready it for sleep. Organic luxury cotton sheets are another fantastic choice.
Are you one of those people who like a small snack before bed? If so, opt for one of the hot tea drinks that are known to contain relaxing properties.
Studies conducted on people who drank chamomile tea before bed concluded these individuals had an overall better night's sleep. Lavender, valerian, and passionflower teas are also helpful for combating sleep difficulties. One study found combining passionflower tea with valerian root was just as effective as taking a prescription sleep aid. So, tantalize your taste buds with a cup of hot tea before heading to bed.