It's a new year and that means a fresh start in all walks of life, including sleep. To help you get your best rest in 2023, we tapped our resident Sleep Nerd and Head of Sleep Experience JD Velilla to get the lowdown on the latest and greatest in sleep solutions. Instead of focusing on new fads or techniques, he is here to help us use the best technology, knowledge, and products for how to get better sleep and improve your sleep cycles and circadian rhythms for good. See his top 5 sleep tips and hacks below, along with some ways to adapt for you and products to help make it a reality. Happy snoozing!
1. Restore (and Maintain!) Consistent Sleep Cycles
When it comes to sleep, JD says consistency is key. "Perhaps the most important thing we can do to get better sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends. The more regular your sleep cycles, the better your body can adjust to your sleep needs," he points out. A key part of this sleep regulation involves light, so always do your best to prioritize natural light in the mornings and reduce false light in the evenings. Based on a 2013 study, the light from electricity and screens can disrupt your natural circadian rhythms. JD recommends cutting off screen time at least an hour before bed and dimming the lights in your bedroom and home. Doing this will help improve your circadian rhythm and lead you down the path of more consistent, restorative rest.
One way to hold yourself accountable with this new sleep path is with a sleep tracker or wearable. But JD says to use these with caution and to focus more on the macro trends that occur over time and not the small details. If you are looking for a good sleep tracker, JD says to "find something that gives you and easy-to-use overall sleep score, monitors total sleep time, time to fall asleep, HRV, and some form of recovery score."
2. Calm the Senses
It's no secret that your sleep environment can greatly affect the quality of rest you get. JD says, "It's important to create the optimal sleep environment to promote relaxation, relieve stress, and promote mindfulness for healthy sleep routines." This means calming the senses with things like aromatherapy, blackout curtains, sound machines, high-quality bedding with natural materials like linen or weighted blankets for added comfort. Using these tools can help calm your nervous system and pave the way for a better nights sleep. Another tip of his is to create a calming space with relaxing colors and dim lighting and maybe have a meditation bedtime routine to help the body and mind wind down.
3. Sleep Clean
While calming the senses is great for promoting sleep, creating a clean and non-toxic environment is equally as important. "Not only does it promote peace of mind, but it provides higher quality air/atmosphere to reduce airborne particles/VOCs for cleaner, healthier breathing," JD explains. In fact, a 2022 study even proved that sleeping with an air purifier can improve your sleep and help you sleep longer! So how do you make this clean sleep a reality? Consider antimicrobial mattresses, natural bedding like linen and hemp (both non-toxic and breathable), silk pillowcases, and an air purifier – especially with pets in room. Using these tools will better conditions and prepare your optimal sleep environment even more.
4. Practice Sleep Cures + Remedies
Sometimes a clean and calm environment is not enough to help you wind down at the end of the day. JD also recommends finding therapeutic solutions to help sleep come easier and last longer. "This could be breath work, meditation, journaling, sleep stories with apps like Calm and Headspace, stretching, or a handheld massager before bed," says JD. According to a 2021 study, mindful breathing and sleep-inducing exercise like yoga and stretching showed significant improvements in sleep quality, daytime functioning, negative emotions, sleep latency, sleep duration, sleep efficiency, anxiety level, and insomnia severity. So like JD says, doing a little bit of therapeutic work for your body and mind before bed can have a great impact on how well you sleep and function throughout the day.
5. Improve Solutions for Bed Sharing
It's not always where we sleep that causes the biggest disruptions, it can be who we sleep with. In the age of sleep divorce, JD says there are many sleep tips and alternative solutions that don't involve you and your partner sleeping in separate rooms due to snoring, tossing and turning, etc. JD recommends, "Mattresses with different comfort levels on each side, different pillows, sleep barriers or body pillows, sound machines and ear plugs, separate mattresses on the same frame, or even two comforters for those blanket tuggers." And for the furry friends in your life, consider a separate dog bed for them along with a sound machine and air purifier for you to minimize noise and pet dander.
JD Velilla is not a medical provider, therapist, counselor, social worker, registered dietician, or licensed nutritionist. JD Velilla is not providing health care, medical or nutritional therapy services, or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue, disease, or condition. Always seek the advice from your own physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
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