The amount of sleep we need is personal. While your partner may wake up refreshed on 6 hours, your body may demand 8 hours of sleep to feel rested. Sometimes though, the demands of the day keep us running in many directions, and when it comes time to quiet our bodies, it’s often hard to quiet our minds. As a result, we don’t get the sleep we need to perform in the way we want.
The effects of getting a lack of regular sleep are more than just a minor inconvenience. Not logging enough sleep can result in weakened immunity, weight gain, and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. And when you start to miss more than just a few good nights of rest, you’re at risk of experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation (including lack of energy, slowed or impaired thinking, irritability and reduced attention span).
Sleep is a natural process and an essential element of good health. It’s important to find strategies that help you create the sleep routine that works best for you. Whether you are looking to create a restful sleeping space, want to push racing thoughts out of your head or just need to turn down the volume of the world around you, there are strategies that can help you start sleeping better.
What you put into your body before bed can have a serious impact on the quality of your sleep. Having a late-afternoon cup of coffee, a big evening meal or one too many adult beverages can work against you and disrupt your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, or have a huge impact on your sleep quality. Caffeine stays in your body for about seven hours, so it’s important to think about the timing of your last cup. Dr Breus generally recommends that you stop drinking caffeine by around 2 pm each day.
People who exercise regularly tend to fall asleep more easily and, more importantly, stay asleep through the night. A healthy amount of exercise will help to improve the overall quality of your sleep, but it’s important to think about when you’re exercising, too. Physical activity will send endorphins flying around your body, making it more difficult to fall asleep—so timing matters.
Ahhhhh, naps. So good. And yet, the seemingly innocent nap can cause all kinds of trouble, by tricking our minds and bodies into thinking we need less sleep overnight because we already got some during the day. In general, napping can make it hard to fall asleep at your regularly scheduled time, so do what you can to wait until bedtime to sleep.
Whether on a laptop, phone or tablet, many of us work in our beds. Michael Breus, PhD and double board-certified sleep specialist, shares, “More and more research shows the negative impacts of blue light, a small part of the light spectrum emitted by electronic screens in particular. Because we are all spending more time on electronic screens, getting into deep REM sleep takes longer. This can reduce the number of sleep cycles we get, which provide physically and mentally restorative sleep”.
The more you use media in bed, the more you begin to associate your bed with being awake and alert. Dr Breus recommends turning your screen off at least 90 minutes before sleep. But if you can’t, wearing blue-light-blocking glasses with amber-tinted lenses will reduce the negative effects of blue light.
Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you’re too old for a bedtime routine. Let yourself know that sleep is coming, to help transition from wakefulness to sleepiness. Relaxing music, meditation or even quiet journaling can help you unwind and get ready to rest.
A quiet space is essential for falling—and staying—asleep. Pets, snoring partners and street noise are all unwelcome intrusions. But there are other kinds of noise, too. Sometimes your busy mind just won’t shut down. When that happens, relaxing sounds and breathing meditations can help calm racing thoughts. Dr Breus agrees, “Noise can jolt us awake or keep us from falling asleep easily. Some noises though, can soothe us. Wearable sleep tech makes controlling the sounds around you easier than ever”.
Turn off the TV. Move the dog’s bed to another space. And if inescapable disruptive noises or intrusive thoughts keep you awake, well, that’s why we designed Bose Sleepbuds™ II.
That advice your parents used to give you? It’s still right. Going outside really can make you feel better (and improve the way you sleep). Taking time to get some fresh air will increase your oxygen levels and, in turn, result in an increase in your serotonin. More serotonin helps you to feel calm, happy and relaxed—a perfect combination for a better night’s sleep.
You remember how tired you felt after a day at the beach or playing outside with friends? That’s the powerful impact of fresh air and sunshine. But we don’t all have the time for an hour (or more) outside each day. Try taking a walk around the block, or even just standing outside for a few deep breaths (5–10). A little fresh air will go a long way.
Your mind works with your body to maintain a proper balance that promotes sleep. Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. It governs the sleep-wake cycle and plays a large part in everything from hormone release to body temperature. Changes in time zones, bedtimes and light cues confuse internal clocks. A regular sleep and wake-up schedule can make a big difference.
Doctors generally recommend staying within an 18–24°C range for the best sleep at night. If your environment is too warm, your body will attempt to regulate its temperature and you will waste energy—causing you to stay awake or struggle to fall into a deep enough sleep. We all have body-temperature variations that closely correlate with our sleep-wake cycle. In normal cycles, the core temperature in the body fluctuates at regular intervals and can drop by 1–2 degrees in the early hours of the morning.
No matter how much room you have in your bedroom, keeping décor neutral, clean and organised helps your mind stay calm and relaxed. Choose the best mattress you can afford and keep an extra blanket at the foot of the bed just in case you get too chilly. Your bedroom should be welcoming and inviting; the place in your home where you can close the door and unwind.
Light is a powerful cue for your circadian rhythm (the part of your biology that helps you maintain predictable sleep). When it’s time for bed, make your bedroom as dark as possible. Try covering windows with light-blocking shades to keep early light from waking you before you’re ready, or consider a sleep mask if you want it really dark.
Sleep hygiene is just as important to your wellbeing as eating well and exercising. With these tips, and maybe some sleep tech, you can create a sleep routine that works best for you. The tiny earbuds deliver relaxing sounds to help you fall asleep and use Bose noise masking technology to help you stay asleep all night.