Gone are the days of functioning on limited sleep, or a weekend of back to back partying, with fuel still left in the tank to smash out a Monday in the office! As we get older and with the demands of daily life, our need for rest is critical, for both our mental and physical health. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to function properly and feel refreshed the next day. We also sleep in cycles of 90-minutes, which contain different levels of sleep - light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep (rapid eye movement) - and if we wake up in the middle of a 90-minute cycle, we can tend to feel more tired than if we were to wake up in the first, lighter stage of sleep.
At Happy Way we are all about getting a good night’s rest, so we can work our magic and smash our goals on the daily. So what are some of our favourite sleep hacks we practice to ensure we drift away with the fairies? Check out our top 15 sleep hacks below.
INVEST IN A GOOD MATTRESS
This is a no brainer but it’s surprising how many people hold on to a mattress that’s not doing them any favours when it comes to their sleep. A mattress is an investment and can last for up to 10 years, but considering we spend up to 8 hours a night in our beds (or more for some people!), it’s important to get a mattress that is supportive, comfortable and aligned with what your body needs. Visiting a bedding store can be ultra confusing with the amount of choice these days, so make sure you chat with someone who knows their stuff and can help you pick out the best mattress for you.
CREATE A SLEEP HAVEN
Bedrooms are such an important part of any home, especially because they’re where we come to relax after our day and recharge for the day ahead. Unnecessary clutter and disorganization can subconsciously unsettle the mind, so it’s important to keep the bedroom clean, neat and tidy, and keep bedroom furniture to essentials only (so that’s why we were always told to clean our rooms as children!). If you own your home and have the flexibility of redecorating, ensure your bedroom is painted in a soft, relaxing tone. Whilst bright, vivid colours may look amazing, they are counterproductive to sleep, so instead choose earthy tones or other calming colours like blues and greens. If you have candles in your room, make sure they are soothing scents, and even a quick whiff or dab on the skin of a lavender based essential oil can help put you in more of a deep sleep.
LOSE THE ELECTRONICS
We all know how easy it is to lose time in the blink of an eye, simply because we are scrolling through socials or checking emails. One of the worst habits you can get into is using your phone right before bed and even first thing in the morning. Set an alarm an hour before bedtime, and have that as your signal that it's time to power down all devices, including your phones, tablets, laptops, tv’s - everything! All of these electronics should be kept OUT of the bedroom as the light can be a stimulant that keeps you awake. If you use your phone as an alarm, perhaps invest in a proper alarm clock without a bright light and try to keep it on the other side of the room - so you don't continually wake up and check how much beauty sleep you have left. Keep your phone charging overnight in the kitchen - that way you remove the temptation to pick it up as soon as the sun rises, and if you get late-night messages or emails you won’t be inclined to check your phone too.
LIMIT THE LIGHT
I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve all been unpleasantly woken by the blinding light that streams through the window - either at some crazy hour of the morning, or usually when we’ve partied a bit too hard the night before and wanna catch some extra zzz’s. Cutting out the light in our bedroom will contribute greatly to a peaceful sleep. Invest in some blackout curtains, use a sleeping mask to block out any light if necessary, and avoid having artificial LED light from phones, tv etc nearby, as this can interrupt sleep. It’s even recommended that you keep the light off if you need to get up during the night for a bathroom visit, as this can stimulate the glands in our brain which can then keep us awake. Just be careful not to trip over anything!
TREAT YOURSELF TO A GOOD PILLOW & COMFY BEDDING
Now if you’re a Sex and the City fan, you may remember in Season 2 when Miranda decides to change her “bed karma”? The quote was - “I’m trying to change my bed karma. I figure if I can make my bed a place I really want to be, others will feel the same.”
Why wait for a man or woman to join you before treating yourself to new bedding?! There is nothing like creating a comfy space for you to fall into at the end of the day, and investing in quality linens and a supportive pillow can make all the difference to a good night's sleep. When shopping for the right pillow, ensure you speak to someone who knows their stuff and can recommend something based on your sleeping style or position - this can vary from those that sleep on their backs, to others that commonly sleep on their sides. Take care of your linen too, washing it weekly, especially if you have furry friends that share the bed with you!
CUT THE NOISE
An obvious preventative to falling asleep, sometimes even the most subtle of noises can keep us awake. Sure, some of us have partners or children that seem to sleep through anything (lucky them), but if you are a light sleeper, street noise, a bed buddy snoring, or the sound of the tv in the distance, can keep you awake until all hours. A simple yet effective solution is to invest in some earplugs or noise cancelling headphones - both are comfortable options and will have you away in dreamland in no time.
START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
This is a fantastic habit to get into at the end of the day. Keeping a journal by your bed, instead of your phone, will actually help you clear your mind rather than stimulate it and can be extremely calming for the mind and soul. If something is bugging you, get it down on paper, as this releases it from your mind which can help you drift off easier. A gratitude journal can be done as you like, but writing a list of all the things you’re grateful for from your day - be simplistic like, “my morning coffee”, “the sunshine”, “playing with my dog” - will show you that there are endless moments to be thankful for, despite the daily stresses that often keep us up in the evening. You can also use this habit in the mornings too, writing a daily affirmation and daily goals, focuses or intentions. It’s rewiring our brains, and putting them in a positive state before bed and before starting the day.
Meditation is a practice that is super beneficial for our mental health and is something that you can do with a spare 5 minutes even, to calm the mind, de-stress and re-centre. Finding some time before bed to do this can help relax and turn the mind off. How many times have you got into bed and lie there tossing and turning, thinking of all the things on your to-do-list for the next day, the emails you forgot to respond to, or even where you’re life’s gonna take you in a year from now - your mind can wander to some pretty random places at nighttime! Finding a comfortable spot on the floor or in a chair, closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths in, whilst slowly exhaling and releasing all the air inside of your lungs, can get the mind in a calmer state and help you switch off for the night. If you are new to meditation, there are so many apps that provide free guided meditations, some that are even specific to sleep. Check out Insight Timer, which is one of our faves at Happy Way.
REMIND YOUR BRAIN OF WHAT BED IS FOR
Quite simply, bed is for sleep and sexy time - in a nutshell! When we use our beds as a work-station, an in-house cinema, or even to curl up with a book (yep, surprising), it trains your mind that bed is not just for sleep and can keep you awake till all hours of the morning. With a tv in your room you run the risk of binge-watching your favourite tv show, with the thought of “just one more episode”, because you just have to find out what happens next. Before you know it you’ve watched a whole season, and you have 3 hours left before you have to wake up for work! As mentioned above, the artificial light from your bedside lamp, tv and laptop will keep you awake longer, and will confuse and keep your body awake when it’s time to rest.
REDUCE CAFFEINE, ALCOHOL & WATER
Who doesn’t love a sneaky wine at the end of a long work day? Whilst it might be a vice to unwind, too much alcohol, caffeine, and even tea or water before bed, can be detrimental to a good night's sleep. We are not encouraging dehydration of course, but liquids right before bedtime can have us making middle of the night trips to the loo, which we all hate, especially as it’s getting colder out and our beds are all toasty warm! Although alcohol can make us drowsy and seemingly help us to fall asleep, it can also disrupt our sleep cycle, which can leave us feeling even more tired in the morning and drowsy for the rest of the day. Try to refrain from drinking liquids up to 2 hours before bed - but keep a glass of water on your bedside table should you wake a little parched!
AVOID THE SNOOZE BUTTON
The snooze button is not your friend - repeat that, out loud, to yourself (or you can tell your friends too if you like). Whilst you might love hitting snooze, once, twice, even three times in the morning, it’s actually not helping you at all and you are likely to wake up feeling more tired than if you were to just wake up the first time! To help resist the temptation, an obvious trick is to put your alarm clock away from your bed, which forces you to get your butt up and walk over to switch it off. If this doesn’t derail you from turning around and walking straight back into bed (naughty!), then throughout the day, practice this little trick. Set an alarm for a few minutes, lie down without falling asleep, and when it goes off, get up without pressing snooze and continue on with your day. If you do this a few times a day for a week, you will train your mind that when it hears that alarm, it’s time to get up, no snooze necessary.
TRAIN YOUR INTERNAL ALARM CLOCK
Have you ever had to get up super early for a flight and were so panicked before you went to bed that you would sleep through your alarm and miss it? You set several alarms, triple check that you’ve set them for AM not PM, go to bed stressing about it and yet wake up automatically before any of them go off! This is your internal alarm clock, responding to stress hormones in your body to wake you up on time. Sure, this is not sustainable every night of the week (we don’t want to go to bed every night feeling stressed we are going to sleep through our alarms), but you can listen to your body’s cues and learn to go to bed as soon as you feel tired, which in turn will form a pattern of having you wake up when it gets light. This is our body's natural rhythm, cued by our internal alarm clock.
SLEEP IN A COOLER ROOM
We all know that summer heat can keep us awake, but did you know that it’s actually more beneficial to a good night's sleep that your bedroom is cooler, as this is how it would be in nature? It is natural for our body's temperature and the external temperature to drop in the evenings, and if our bedrooms are significantly warmer, it can disrupt our internal body clock to the point of throwing off our sleeping patterns and natural balance. Be mindful that you don't want your bedroom to be ice-cold - no one wants to sleep in minus temperatures - and it’s important to keep your tootsies warm also, as cold feet can keep you awake all night! Find a happy medium and get cosy curling up under your warm blankets.
EXERCISE REGULARLY - BUT NOT TOO LATE
At Happy Way, we always promote the benefits of a healthy exercise routine, for the mind and body, but keeping active can also help create good sleep patterns too. Exercising regularly can assist with our overall internal health, as well as release stress and anxiety from our lives. Exercising in the morning or throughout the day is more beneficial, as exercising in the evening can increase the cortisol levels in our bodies and keep us awake at night. Try to limit exercise so that it’s done at least 2 hours before bedtime, which will allow your body to unwind and relax before lights out.
AVOID SNACKS AND HEAVY MEALS BEFORE BED
Our bodies are not meant to be digesting food when we go to bed so it’s important that we don’t eat heavy meals right before bedtime as this can keep us awake and uncomfortable throughout the night. If you are peckish before bed, snack on something light and choose foods that are preferably unprocessed as your body will use less energy to break them down and digest. Avoid anything with caffeine or that is high in sugar as this can keep you awake at night also.
We hope you have a dreamy sleep! - Love, Happy Way xx