TikTok has seen an insatiable uptick in both volumes of cleaning posts and interactions over the past 18 months. A New York Times writer even described the pleasure of indulging in organizational #cleantok content as “narcotic”. But how many of you have ever thought of cleaning up your sleep hygiene?  If any of the following traits sound familiar: low energy levels, perpetually hungry, feeling cranky, waning motivation, trouble sleeping or concentrating, indecisiveness and headaches, it could be time to put your proverbial marigolds on and scrub up on your sleep hygiene.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep Hygiene is everything you should and shouldn’t do to make sure you get the quality slumber you need, and it starts way before you go to bed.  Think about it like a high performance formula 1 car or athelete – everything that makes them so successful is fine tuned to a tee. Nothing is left to chance. From behaviours, habits and daily routines, to environmental factors such as light and heat – all of these can be honed and polished to help you have a much better night’s sleep.

Sleep Hygiene has the power to improve your ability to fall and stay asleep. But it goes much further than that. It has a domino effect. Better sleep has a seismic impact on our lives – we rise feeling more rejuvenated and refreshed, we’re more likely to feel positive, have more energy which in turn oils the wheels of our mental health and boosts our productivity. Other benefits include, improved muscle repair, sharper memory, a more robust immune system, happier relationships and glowing skin.

By making a few simple changes, you can tap into nights that leave you feeling and looking great.

Better sleep starts by waking at the same time every morning

The first step to better sleep is setting yourself the challenge of waking up at the same time every day. Select a time that allows you to get to work or school during the week and adhere to it at weekend’s and days off too. It may sound trivial, but it can reap quick rewards.

Organise a date with breakfast

Until you eat in the morning, your body is technically in starvation mode. Which is taxing. Stress hormones are not conducive to restful slumber.  Firing up the metabolism first thing not only stabilises your blood sugar, but eating tells the body that you’re safe. If you’re still thinking – “but I really struggle to eat in the morning”, start with this Date & Almond Breakfast Smoothie.

Dates and nuts produce melatonin, which promotes a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, shown to improve sleep quality and dates are rich in vitamins A and B1 and can help to reduce blood pressure when consumed regularly – which promotes a good night’s sleep all the more.

Working 9-5? Kick your WFB (working from bed) habit 

The allure of working turning your mattress into your office can be appealing, but can trigger a slew of health problems, both psychological and physical. It can also be detrimental to the lifespan of your mattress. Avoid working from your bedroom during working hours. Your brain can get confused into thinking it’s a space for productivity, making it harder to sleep.

Midday Caffeine Curfew

One of the most recognised sleep thieves, the stimulants found in caffeine can have you staring at the ceiling well into the night if you go overboard with them four to six hours before hitting the sack. The first step is to cut ties with it at lunch time.

If you’re an avid coffee lover, a more modest approach involves altering your habits in the afternoon by allowing yourself only decaf. And work up to the midday caffeine curfew from there.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Hack your sleep habitat

Engineering the right environment is crucial for efficient, undisrupted sleep. Like many well-designed products, your bedroom should follow this sleep inducing ethos cool, quiet, comfortable, dark and minimal.

Cool down to induce the hibernation state

Being too hot is an absolute no-no for great sleep. Sleep is a type of human hibernation where your body temperature reduces so essential maintenance and regeneration can take place.  Our bedroom temperature needs to be between 16-18 degrees centigrade to not only mimic the hibernation state but also maintain a calmer state of mind. The hibernation effect can be induced by taking a 40-degree before falling asleep in a nice cool bedroom atmosphere.  However, for women who are pregnant, peri-menopausal, or menopausal it’s beneficial to reduce the heat even lower to 12 degrees.

Temperature is also one of the reasons experts at Simba decided to replace traditional memory foam with newly designed Simbatex for its Hybrid mattress. This unique Open Cell foam improves airflow by thirty times compared to its predecessor. It’s also infused with the naturally occurring mineral, graphite, which works by drawing heat away from your body.

Taking the heat out of getting to sleep further, Simba’s range of pillows and duvets contain STRATOS®, a pioneering technology inspired by the type used to protect astronauts from temperature changes in space, it works by absorbing and releasing heat throughout the night, maintaining a consistent temperature and helping owners fall into a deeper, more restorative state.

Thirsty for sleep? Drink to drop off

Studies have shown both quality of sleep and amount of sleep have been linked to hydration, and evidence for these links is mounting. Conversely, there is also evidence that a lack of sleep may contribute to dehydration. In a study of nearly 20,000 adults in both the United States and China, people who slept only six hours per night were found to have significantly higher rates of dehydration than people who slept eight hours.

Some studies also suggest that dehydration can contribute to nocturnal leg cramps which can prevent you getting into the deeper and more restorative stages of sleep. Little and often is best throughout the day and aim for two litres. If you’ve not managed your intake during the day, don’t attempt to catch up by gulping excessive amounts before bed as it’ll have the opposite effect – waking you for the loo frequently.

Why 8 is Great

Some groundbreaking research on why we should aim for eight hours rest came from a neuroscientist called Jeff Iliff. Our brain doesn’t have a lymphatic system as our body does which presents a severe waste clearance problem. Iliff discovered that only while we sleep cerebrospinal fluid flushes the brain along the semi-permeable blood vessels removing byproducts and neurodegenerative toxins like amyloid-beta which is a significant causal factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly this neuronal waste clearance process takes just about 8 hours to complete!

Up the comfort with a mattress that prevents motion transfer

If you share a bed, as much as you love your partner, their nocturnal tossing and turning can very quickly turn a comfortable night into an uncomfortable one. One of the other reasons I recommend the Simba Hybrid mattress is down to its clever Aerocoil® spring layer.  Up to 5,000 of these ingenious tiny cones flex gently in response to you and your partner’s movements, offering personalised support to each of you without disturbing the other.  And as they compress and extend with you, they gently push air through the comfort layer, helping to keep you at just the right temperature.

Bathe at 40 degrees, 90 minutes before bed

In the quest to sleep better, studies lend credibility to the warm bath effect, especially if you nail the temperature and timing of the bath.  A team in Texas evaluated research that linked bathing, water temperature, and sleep quality. According to their results, bathing ideally, 90 minutes before bed in water at 40 to 43°C (104 to 109°F) did the trick to help people get the best quality sleep, helping you fall asleep an average of 10 minutes quicker than normal. Be sure to then moisturise. Touch releases the so-called cuddle hormone oxytocin.

60 minutes before drift off – Power down and park technology

The LED backlight of your devices trigger the beta brainwave state which is anxiety inducing. Switch off technology at least 1 hour before bedtime. No TV. No phones. No screens whatsoever. Make your sleep space sacred. Then park it in a different room.  It’s probably one of the hardest habits to change if you regularly find yourself doom-scrolling social at midnight right now. Start small and you’re less likely to get deflated. Aim for 2-3 days a week at first and build up your tolerance.

Engage the alpha brainwave state

To induce the alpha brainwave state (the relaxed pre-sleep state), find activities that activate right-brain engagement. This is the creative, non-verbal side of your brain. Such activities include: journal writing, playing an instrument, listening to music (classical/chill-out); reading or listening to a book (literature or fiction – nothing logical or analytical) reading poetry, writing poetry; writing a gratitude diary. Switch on an amber or pink lowlight to activate the melatonin release. Scented Candles are even better.

Cultivate quiet – by emptying your mind

If you’ve experienced racing thoughts before bed, you’ll know how much of a barrier to sleep they are. Think of your mind like a glass. Thought and emotions can fill it throughout the day – until it feels full to the brim. Meditation can be a way to empty this glass, helping to quieten your mind and lower those sleep hindering stress hormones before bed. I recommend this one here.

Coax sleep pressure by reducing your sleep time.

If you are someone who needs 8 hours a day, make yourself tired by only sleeping 6 hours for about 3-4 days. It’s easier for us to stay up late than it is for us to wake up early so waking up earlier to make yourself tired is a simpler formula. After about 3 days you should create enough sleep pressure to then start going to bed a little bit earlier too. After about 3 days you should create enough sleep pressure to then start going to bed a little bit earlier too.

Then give yourself about 6 days to catch up on any lost sleep and adjust to your new schedule.

Photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash

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