As the clock sprung forward an hour over the weekend and daylight savings time starts to take a toll on us, our friends at Bed Bath & Beyond are looking to educate, inform and provide you with the tools needed to ensure your sleep schedule is in check. Below, behavioural sleep expert Dr. Shelby Harris has put together some key tips to practice when looking to enhance your sleep routine. —Vita Daily
make your bedroom like a relaxing, inviting cave. Many people like to create a cocoon-like environment for sleep. But while it might feel nice to be warm and cosy at night, a room that is too warm (or cold, for that matter) can cause multiple awakenings at night, leading to more disrupted and less refreshing sleep. The ideal sleep temperature range is between 12 and 22 degrees Celsius. If you have a radiator that’s hard to control, consider opening your window before you go to sleep—even in the winter—and leave it open a crack throughout the night. Make sure your room has light blocking shades over the window to keep it completely dark. Consider using a sleep mask if need be. And finally, use a white noise machine or silicone ear plugs to limit any external noise that could interfere with sleep.
keep a consistent bed and wake time, 7 days a week. Our bodies have an internal clock, and that clock craves routine. There’s no weekend versus weekday clock built into our body.
take a hot shower 1.5 to 2 hours before bed. Good sleepers tend to have a slight drop in their body temperature just as sleep starts to come on each night. Poor sleepers don’t have as much of a drop. It’s best to take a hot shower or bath one-and-a-half before bedtime, which can help the body’s gentle cooling-off process. Get in a nice and cosy robe afterwards and you’ve got a luxurious wind-down
check in on your stress and anxiety levels. Stress is the number one cause of short-term sleep difficulty. But solutions don’t usually come to us in the middle of the night and so we can get caught up in unproductive worry. Writing a to-do list earlier in the evening can also help clear out your mind. If you wake in the night remembering that you forgot to add something, just put it on the list. Prioritize the list as well, so you know what is most important to get done. And if you keep worrying about the things on your “to-do” list, recite to yourself that you’ve written it down and will handle it tomorrow. Try some relaxation exercises within an hour of bedtime to calm your mind. Deep diaphragmatic breathing and body-scan exercises, in which you become aware of and then relax each body part from head to toe, are excellent ways to relax your body and mind. An eye pillow can help enhance feelings of relaxation.
seasonal allergies can lead to sleep problems for many people. It can worsen sleep quality, sleep quantity and even snoring! Air purifiers and hypoallergenic bedding are useful for many. Make sure to vacuum open, keep windows and doors closed, and quickly put clothes from outside in the washing machine.
get bright light in the morning. Light is important in setting your body’s clock. Open up the shades and bathe your brain in light. If it is still dark out when you wake up, consider using smart bulbs or a dawn simulator or sunrise alarm clock can help achieve a similar goal.
avoid alcohol, nicotine, liquids and heavy meals within 3 hours before bed and caffeine within 8 hours of bed. Caffeine may help you wake up shortly after consuming it, but it can interfere with sleep at night. Alcohol can cause awakenings and lighter sleep at night. If the above suggestions are routinely tried but don’t seem to improve your sleep, talk with your doctor about finding a sleep specialist who can do a more thorough evaluation to make sure nothing else is getting in the way of your sleep.