Sleep may just be the most precious resource on earth. It provides health, happiness, and wellbeing, and comes with magical free movies to boot! (Okay, so we call them ‘dreams’). Everybody needs it, and the lucky ones will spend one third of their lives enjoying it. But what makes good sleep especially precious is the fact that no money can buy it.
Expensive pills may knock you out but they won’t give you quality sleep. A holiday may help you relax, but if the conditions aren’t quite perfect then you’ll be tossing and turning all night.
No, you can’t ever guarantee yourself a good night’s sleep, but like prospecting for gold you can take a number of steps to improve your chances of hitting the jackpot.
It all starts with the textiles you use. Your skin is your largest organ and the first point of contact with the outside world. So when you sleep, you need to think about your skin first and foremost. Drape it in a fabric that you find comfortable and pleasant. Silk pyjamas are usually best because they keep you cool in hot weather, and warm in cold weather, like a Thermos for your body! Freshly laundered, silk PJs are smooth and relaxing to wear. Even if you have cotton PJs, it’s worth putting on a new pair every couple of days and always making a ritual of getting dressed for bed.
The next textile to think about is your bedroom curtains. This is a simple matter of science. Light from the sun causes your body to produce the hormones that regulate wakefulness. That bright light first thing in the morning – way before you’re due to get up – will trigger your brain and your hormones. Use dark, thick curtains wherever possible.
And how about those bed sheets? More and more people are turning to bamboo bed linen, which can be more breathable than cotton, and which is also hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and antibacterial – helping you to avoid overheating, sneezing, or itching yourself awake every ten minutes.
Well, fabrics are one thing but you also need to look out for your mind. However good your physical preparations are for bed, if your mind wants to keep you awake, it surely will! For this reason, it is important to take careful steps to relax your mind and slow your brain down to a nice sleepy pace.
Watching traumatic television shows late at night is probably not a good start. In fact, one study showed that people who watch a lot of distressing news footage tend to have more nightmares – and we don’t want you waking up in a cold sweat (or a sweat of any temperature, for that matter). It’s important to keep up with what’s going on in the world, but try to keep it to one hour of news shows per day, and spend your last waking hours watching something more mellow or – preferably – reading a book.
But the worst possible thing for your mind if you’re desperate to get a good night’s sleep is your own inner voice. The typical vicious cycle of mind self-torture goes something like this: you’re anxious that you won’t fall asleep, so you anxiety keeps you awake, so you need even more sleep, so you get even more anxious, so you sleep even less… sound familiar? There’s no cure-all solution for this one – the best thing you can do is to look after every other element of your bedtime ritual to give your mind a good chance of relaxing. But what you might find valuable is to remind yourself that simply resting is also good for you. If you’re laying in bed at night, the light’s off, and you can’t sleep, try to enjoy the moment for what it is – nobody hassling you to get things done, soft sheets on your skin, the sound of the breeze or of rain outside, your whole town at home in bed taking it easy. It’s called mindfulness, and you probably already know you should be doing it!
So there’s just a bit of housework to do before your good sleep routine is complete. Quite literally, you need to some housework – sorry! Having a messy bedroom just adds to the clutter in your mind. If you find five minutes to tidy up during the day, your bedroom is the best place to start – it is your base. And if you don’t find that time, then at least try to tuck a few things away while you’re brushing your teeth and to make the bed first thing in the morning when you get up.
This dreamy new infographic from PoundPlace gathers these hot tips and more into one easy to follow plan, so you can start adjusting your sleep culture point by point. Happy hunting, troubled sleeper – let’s hope you hit gold!