7 new ways to improve your sleep

By Jo Joiner

Sleep is one of the hottest topics in the world. We all need it, but getting eight hours of shuteye a night is increasingly difficult for many people. It seems that the more we try to sleep, the less it happens.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, which runs a sleep health survey, more than 1 in 3 adults are not getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep aids and supplements have become a mega-industry, but at Dreamland we believe you can improve your sleep quality with simple habits. Here are some of our best sleep tips, with a focus on strategies that don’t cost a thing:

1.     Journalling

Having a lot on your mind is definitely a barrier to good sleep. You might have worries that you’re trying to solve or you could be excited about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Either way, trying to sleep when your mind is wide awake is impossible.

Keeping a journal by your bedside is a way to download the day and put it to rest. It’s a chance to have a rant and let off steam. You can also record important things that happened during the day. Or you could simply make a list of things you need to do tomorrow. The general idea is to give your thoughts an outlet, so that you can become calm enough to fall asleep.

2.     Get up early for natural light

While it might feel counter-productive to get up earlier to improve your sleep quality, a walk in the morning light helps your circadian rhythms (aka your sleep/wake cycle).

In 2017, a study found that workers who are exposed to early morning sunlight sleep better at night, and tend to feel less depressed and stressed than those who don’t get much morning light.[1]

It’s best to spend between 30 and 45 minutes walking, reading or gardening outdoors before breakfast. Don’t wear sunglasses or a hat, because the sunlight needs to be unfiltered. 

3.     Don’t have an early night

When you’re exhausted because you haven’t been sleeping well, it’s easy to think that going to bed earlier than usual might help. For example: instead of waiting until 10pm (your usual bedtime) you pack yourself off to bed at 9pm.

But when you turn in early, you often end up lying awake instead of falling asleep. This sets you up for two major sleep problems: sleep anxiety and problematic sleep conditioning. One of the new tips for better sleep is to stick to your usual bedtime/wakeup routine, because that’s what your body is used to.

4.     Have a drink of warm milk

Having a drink of warm milk about half an hour before bed is an old-fashioned tip for a good night’s sleep, but it’s gaining a new following. A number of studies have demonstrated that consuming dairy products before bed can help with a more restful night. Scientists say it’s because milk contains peptides that relieve stress and enhance sleep.[2]

5.     Listen to a sleep story on Spotify

Kids have always known that listening to a story is one of the best ways to fall asleep, and now adults are getting into it too. Listening to a restful story read by a narrator with a soothing voice helps you to tune out and drop off. Dr Christine Won, associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, says:

“A bedtime story works by detracting the mind from self-sabotaging thoughts and worries, which allows the body’s adrenaline to come down so the brain can transition into the sleep state. A story, more so than music or background noises, is more likely to force the stubborn mind’s attention away from whatever is causing emotional distress.”[3]

Check out these podcasts on Spotify: Snooze with Sam, Listen to Sleep, The Sleepy Bookshelf, Nothing Much Happens, Get Sleepy and many more.

6.     Sleep by yourself

If you sleep with a partner who snores, steals the blankets and twitches wildly, it might be time for a ‘sleep divorce’. A sleep divorce is an amicable agreement to sleep separately. You might do it for a few nights every week, when one of you has an early start or important meeting, or you might make it a permanent arrangement.  Sleep-divorced couples rest in separate beds, separate rooms or at separate times. Having a bed to yourself can be one of the best ways to sleep, because you won’t be woken frequently by a restless partner.

7.     Get an adjustable bed

There’s spending involved with this final tip, however it’s an investment in your own health and mental wellbeing. Switching to an adjustable bed helps to reduce back pain, leg pain and snoring, any of which could be sabotaging your chance of a good night’s sleep. As a couple it means two beds pushed together, so each of you can adjust for individual comfort. You can find Dreamland eFlex/iFlex adjustable beds at retailers throughout the North Island. See stockists.  

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-sleep-daylight-idUSKCN18E23E

[2] https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2021/acs-presspac-october-13-2021/warm-milk-makes-you-sleepy-peptides-could-explain-why.html

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/01/style/bedtime-stories-for-adults.html

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