10 Ways to Take Advantage of the Best Month Ever
Here you have it: the perfect, long sought after excuse to get more sleep and not be judged for it: “Well, it’s National Sleep Awareness Month. We pretty much have to sleep more this month.”
And that’s precisely why this is our favorite time of the year – National Sleep Awareness Month! We are encouraging you to celebrate it with us! In fact, we’d like to make a game of it this March. Some of us still don’t know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. It’s time to change that! Good sleep improves your productivity, athletic ability, and keeps your immune system functioning well. While not sleeping enough can lead to obesity, heart disease, and depression, among many other problems. We’re providing you with ten popular tips for getting better sleep, and if you’ve never used any before, test them out! Sleeping well can actually prolong your life, so it’s not something you want to skimp on. Make it a point to try the “Greatest Hits” of sleep advice as you enjoy National Sleep Awareness Month this year. You won’t regret it!
Sleep’s Greatest Hits
As the comedian David Letterman taught us a generation ago, good things come in top ten lists. The advice below comes up again and again when you research the best ways to get better sleep. You can think of these as sleep’s “Greatest Hits.” These are ten of the best and most common, and why they work (or don’t). We haven’t put them in any particular order, so you can try them all during National Sleep Awareness Month. See how they work out. Then you can rank them, cancel out the ones that don’t work, and find others that do. Then make a top ten list of your own!
So without further ado, #1 is…
1. Drinking Warm Milk before Bed
An old standby in advising how to sleep well is drinking warm milk before bed. The theory goes that because milk contains tryptophan, a compound in your body that breaks down into serotonin (which calms you) and melatonin (which makes you sleepy), it makes you tired at bedtime.
But is that true?
Recent science suggests that because there isn’t enough tryptophan in a glass of milk to really affect you, the benefits of warm milk may just be psychological. It may just remind you of being a kid and having warm milk, making your body think it’s time to sleep.
What to find out? Test the effectiveness of warm milk as a sleep aid by having it before bed for several days in a row. See if it helps. Or, if it’s always helped you, try going without it. This is your month to try out or debunk all that good advice about sleep that you just didn’t take. Enjoy it.
2. Wearing Socks When You Sleep
There is scientific evidence that wearing socks to bed can help you get to sleep. The reason is because when your feet are warm, your body opens up your feet’s blood vessels, telling your brain that it’s time for sleep. This also causes heat to be redistributed throughout your body to keep your bed at the ideal sleeping temperature (similar to the way a gel-infused memory foam mattress transfers heat). Don’t believe us? Try this for National Sleep Awareness Month: put a hot water bottle by your feet and see if it helps you sleep. They used to do this in the olden days and it was actually proven to make people sleep better. You could also get some nice, thick socks to keep your feet warm. Or, give them both a try and see which works better. Again, this month is the perfect opportunity to find out.
3. Humidifying, Vaporizing, and White Noise – Helpful?
Though it might be a pricey experiment, there are many who swear by various gadgets to help you get your best sleep. Humidifiers create moisture in the air that causes the tiny hairs in your nose to move. This helps them filter out bacteria that can flare up your allergies or cause you to get a cold. The increased moisture can also help with snoring, sleep apnea (a condition where you temporarily stop breathing while you sleep), and sore throats too. Vaporizers – which are essentially humidifiers except they create a warm mist – can actually help prevent pneumonia and treat croup (an extreme coughing illness that affects children).
We can’t forget white noise devices either. Be they fans or actual white noise machines, white noise is said to “distract” your ears (and brain) from other noises. A white noise machine or similar device creates a droning, repetitive sound that’s supposedly easier to sleep with. It’s only harmful if you get addicted and can’t sleep without it. And it can be a nuisance if your partner isn’t into it as much as you are. Still, white noise devices, humidifiers, and vaporizers are the perfect things to test out if you’re having trouble falling asleep. After all, it is National Sleep Awareness Month.
4. Sleeping With Your Dog
Speaking of white noise devices, why not try the friendliest one of all? That’s right, man’s best friend has been proven to help us get our best sleep! Whether it’s because of the white noise of their breathing or their warmth, cuddling your canine would be great this March! And, since we’re already celebrating National Sleep Awareness Month, why not couple that with a trip to your local humane society to adopt another bedmate? Even if Fido doesn’t help you catch more z’s, he or she’s a National Sleep Awareness Month gift that will keep on giving for years to come.
5. Sleeping in the Nude
Though personal modesty may make this difficult for some, why not spend this National Sleep Awareness Month in sleeping in the nude? Studies have shown that there are multiple sleeping benefits to bedding in the buff, including reducing weight gain and preventing Type-2 diabetes. This is because you stay cooler when you sleep sans clothing. In fact, new research suggests that the longer you sleep cool, the more energy and fat you will burn. All you have to do is take your clothes off and sleep better! (Just don’t forget to keep your feet warm – so make sure to remember your socks).
For couples, sleeping nude has other benefits too. In an intimate relationship, sleeping naked keeps you always ready for a roll in the hay. And skin-on-skin contact with your significant other causes the release of “the love hormone” oxytocin. Of all the different sleeping advice, we’d say this is probably the most fun one to test during National Sleep Awareness Month. So you’d be doing your duty in promoting better sleep by enjoying it. For sleeping purposes, of course.
6. Disconnecting From Electronic Devices
Web MD describes turning off your electronic devices as the #1 way to get better sleep. Why? Becuase their lights go directly against how your body would naturally like to get its shuteye. Darkness is your body’s cue to create the sleep hormone melatonin. Even the smallest light can screw that up – some people need their alarm clock in a different part of the room altogether to get snoozing! In addition, reading an email or texting a friend stimulates your brain, revving it up at a time when it should be winding down. If those emails or texts cause you to stay up later than usual, your whole circadian rhythm – the regular time your body is accustomed to sleeping and waking up – is totally off. Do this a bunch of nights in a row and voila! You can’t sleep.
Though this may sound like blasphemy to some, test it out by shutting off your phone and other electronic devices 15 minutes before sleeping during National Sleep Awareness Month. We have the feeling that not only will you sleep better, but you’ll feel much more relaxed too. If you can train your brain – and your friends – to accept that for 7-9 hours a day (the amount of time experts say you should be sleeping) you’re not available, you won’t regret it.
7. Showering Before Bed
Another “classic” sleep tip: take a shower before bed. Your body will naturally cool down as it falls asleep and cooling down is the first step in the circadian rhythm (which is essential to getting a good night’s sleep). Experts suggest that a hot shower 90 minutes or so before bedtime will help you get drowsy as you cool off. If you’re a fan of morning showers, switch things up for National Sleep Awareness Month and see if showering at night improves your sleep.
8. Eating the Right Foods and Avoiding Caffeine
It’s probably a well-known fact that caffeine keeps you awake, but do you know why? It’s because drowsiness comes from a chemical in your body that binds to a receptor called adenosine. This binding process slows down nerve cell activity and dilates your body’s blood vessels. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors. So, ditch the caffeine before you sleep for National Sleep Month – no sodas or other sugary drinks either as they might have caffeine in them. Your cells will do their thing normally and you won’t stop yourself from falling asleep.
In addition to that, consider eating cherries, Jasmine rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, and decaf herbal tea. They’ve been shown to provide you with sleep-inducing effects. While we’re at it, throw in some cereal and milk. They may be staples of breakfast, but we all know about milk’s effect on sleep. And cereal, like sweet potatoes, let you digest a few carbs before bed – another trick to getting better sleep. Don’t believe us? Test it out this March.
9. Finding the Right Position
Most people find a sleep position they like and stick with it, but is it the sleep position that’s really best for you? If you’ve recently started sleeping with somebody else, is that the position that’s best for both of you? According to experts, there are actually four popular positions to sleep in, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages:
On your back – great for aligning your head, neck, and spine. However, this position is not great for people with sleep apnea, especially when they sleep with another person because it tends to promote snoring. Choose this position wisely.
On your side – also great for aligning your head, neck, and spine (assuming you have the right pillow). The downside to this position is that it can also lead to snoring and wrinkles. With your head smashed against a pillow night in and night out, it forces you to resolve the eternal dilemma: pain or beauty?
On your stomach – the good news is that this position is great for preventing snoring! The bad news? Everything else. Stomach sleeping causes bodily aches and pains everywhere, particularly in your neck if you turn your head to one side. The alternative is to sleep face down, with your forehead on a pillow. The results, unfortunately, aren’t much better.
The fetal position – the preference for 41% of adults. This position is great for pregnant women, particularly if you sleep on your left side. This keeps you off your vital organs and helps with snoring. The downside? It can restrict your breathing and leave you sore in the morning. Putting a pillow between your legs helps with this. Try this the other three positions for National Sleep Awareness Month. Find what works for you.
10. Sleeping on a Premium Mattress
So we’ve established wearing socks to bed redistributes heat throughout your body, sleeping in the nude keeps you cool, and cooling down after a hot shower will make you sleepy. What can accomplish all three plus much more? A A high-quality mattress from Lull. And why is that?
Well for one thing, the 1.5” gel-infused top layer is made from a proprietary blend of premium memory foam. It relieves pressure to your joints, lower back, and neck. In addition to transferring heat to maintain the scientifically proven ideal temperature of 69 degrees, it transfers motion so that your partner or pet can get in and out of bed without disturbing you. It gives you perfect spinal alignment, and is so durable that it comes with a ten-year warranty. There isn’t a better gift you could get yourself or somebody you care about for National Sleep Awareness Month. You can keep using it for many Marches to come.
So if you’ve ever struggled with sleep, now is the time to try all these tricks during National Sleep Awareness Month. You have almost thirty days to find the right sleeping formula with a little trial and error. Combine that with the best bed, and you’ll be celebrating year in and year out! Sleep well!