6 Ways to Get Better Sleep
Some things you can’t control: what time the sun rises in the morning, the fact that your best friend’s birthday (and celebratory rager) lands on a Tuesday, and that enormous project your boss hit you with last minute. Let’s be blunt—these factors can put a serious damper on your already-fragile sleep schedule. Poor sleep habits impact your energy and productivity throughout the day, your mental health, and even your weight. The good news: There are some things you can control when it comes to sleep—take our advice, and you’ll be waking up refreshed and ready to seize each day.
Regulate the temperature
If you’ve ever woken up sweating (or shivering) or argued with your partner about the thermostat, you might be interested to know that the National Sleep Foundation has determined the average person’s optimal temperature for sleep is between 60°F and 67°F. But if you get hot or cold throughout the night, bedding can help you maintain an ideal temperature (it can also help strike a compromise if you’re sharing a bed). If you tend to get cold, try flannel sheets, such as our Upstate Eco Heather Flannel Set—the warm, long-lasting option that’s about as cozy as they come. And if you’re usually on the toasty side, go for something more breathable, such as the Upstate Stonewashed Linen Sheet Set or a Cloud Comforter, which we’ve heard feels like “sleeping under a pile of cotton candy.” We’ll take New York Magazine’s word on that one.
“My flannel sheets have been an unexpected relationship-saver. They’re really warm but also breathable enough to bridge the age-old divide between two people who prefer different sleeping temperatures.”
— Mary Montalvo, Brand Marketing
Manage food and drink consumption
Be mindful about what foods you’re eating for dinner and when you’re eating them. If possible, avoid large meals, caffeine, and rich, spicy, or sugary foods in the hours before bedtime—they can cause stomach problems, heartburn, or trigger wakefulness at night. You should also avoid alcohol before bed (yes, that means you might just have to give up that bourbon nightcap). The National Sleep Foundation reports that, although alcohol, a depressant, might get you to sleep, it ultimately interrupts your circadian rhythm, blocks REM sleep, and typically leads to more nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Clear your head
The Exploration of Consciousness Research Institute (EOC Institute) reports that, when trying to fall asleep, mindfulness, or the ability to concious of your thoughts, helps you focus on the present rather than dwelling on issues that cause anxiety and stress; it also boosts melatonin, a critical hormone in the falling-asleep process. Many mindfulness apps have sleep centers designed to aid in these processes. Headspace, for instance, hosts an arsenal of 45- to 55-minute, guided-audio tours that begin with a meditation or breathing exercise and continue with a narration through a dreamy, serene landscape; they encourage your brain to focus on the present rather than allowing it to wander. Desert Campfire–designed to comfort a worried mind through nostalgic cricket and crackling-campfire sounds—is a Huckberry favorite. There are also technology-free approaches to mindfulness, such as this Navy-developed method that will have you asleep within 120 seconds.
(Looking for sneaky ways to practice mindfulness during your waking hours too? We recommend these five reflective activities.)
“I love falling asleep to BBC4’s Shipping Forecast. I used to fall asleep to audiobooks, but realizing I missed details after I dozed off and rewinding the next night was a pain. The shipping forecast could be the same every night and I’d never know the difference. With a calm soothing voice (I love a British accent) and no real pauses, the forecast provides a steady stream of white noise that lets me I doze right off without worrying that I’ll miss out.”
— Will Porter, Customer Experience (Co-signed by Huckberry Co-founder Andy Forch)
Calm your mind and body
When your standard bed linens fail you, go for the weighted blanket. It’s good for the nervous system, increases serotonin production (which triggers the release of melatonin), and alleviates stress and anxiety. According to a 2015 study published by the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, people with anxiety who used a weighted blanket slept longer and moved less during sleep. The participants also reported finding it easier to settle down for sleep, and they felt more refreshed in the morning. The Baloo weighted blanket is made from a breathable fabric—ideal for even the warmest months—and washing-machine safe. It’s also certified by the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard, meaning it’s free of harmful chemicals.
Hide the light
This includes your alarm clock, phone, and any external light sources. Don’t cause a fire hazard, but try throwing something over your alarm clock to block the light. Then, put your phone in another room. In fact, you shouldn’t use your phone within one to tow hours of your bedtime. If you live near street lamps or neighbors who use lights late at night: First, tell them to read this article, and second, invest in blackout shades or curtains. The key here is to not let it affect your morning schedule. As soon as your alarm goes off in the morning, open those suckers up. Let as much natural light into your space to tell your body it’s time to get the day started.
“The hour before I go to bed, I slowly start turning off and lowering lights to help get my mind get ready for sleep. This includes cell phones—if you put your screens to bed at least 30 minutes before you go to bed, your eyes are better suited to fall asleep faster for a better night of rest.”
— Grace Herr, Apparel
Maintain a regular schedule
According to HelpGuide.org, a nonprofit mental health and wellness website, keeping in touch with your body’s circadian rhythm, or natural sleep-wake cycle, is key to feeling refreshed and energized throughout the day. In other words, restful sleep is less about getting a certain number of hours as it is about getting to bed and waking up at the same time each morning. Pro-tip: A nap can help if you’re overcome by the mid-day sleepies. Most importantly, keep your hand off the snooze button and stick to a strict bedtime. Both of these can be difficult, especially on weekends, but they’ll pay off in the long run.
Daily exercise also enforces healthy sleep habits. A good, hard gym sesh in the morning or afternoon has tremendous effects. Exercise increases metabolism and stimulates hormones, which are great for mental and physical health if done more than three hours before sleep. But even the lightest amount of exercise, such as a short walk or even restorative yoga (yes, even right before bedtime), can improve sleep quality.
Got your own trick for falling to sleep or bedtime ritual that you swear by? Drop your method below in the comments.