Getting enough good quality sleep is just as important to your health as fueling your body with lots of fruits + veggies.
Sleep supports healthy brain function which makes you more alert and focused during the day, is linked to emotional well-being, and boosts your immune system to keep any yucky germs at bay. Also, while you're snoozin', your body is in hardcore repair mode. Muscles get a chance to be replenished, and damaged cells and blood vessels are repaired.
All of that sounds great, right? Yes, but if you're struggling to get good quality sleep at night, you may be wondering—how can I get in on all those awesome sleep benefits?
First of all, let me tell you, last year I was really struggling to get a decent night's sleep. I would stay up late doing work, reading a new book, hanging out on Instagram, or binging on a new Netflix series. But, by tweaking some of my evening routine and investing in a few products that help me get good quality shut-eye, I've learned to set myself up for success as much as possible for a good night's rest.
I want to share my sleep secrets with you! These are specific tips + products I use in my own life to help me sleep soundly night after night.
7 GAME CHANGERS FOR A GREAT NIGHT'S SLEEP
1) BEANS 72 ORGANIC BUCKWHEAT PILLOW
I didn't always know this, but pillows actually play a specific role in how well you sleep. Your pillow is there to support your neck and upper back, which is important to help maintain proper alignment of your spine.
Finding a pillow I loved took some trial and error—but now I'm obsessed with my Beans 72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow (I even bought a separate travel-sized one for when I'm on the road!). If you haven't heard of buckwheat pillows, they are a sleep game changer for sure. I love mine because it helps support my neck and molds to my head, but doesn't collapse like foam pillows. It also doesn't hold heat, so if you're constantly chasing “the cool side of the pillow”, chase no more my friend. I also love that this brand uses 100% organic buckwheat hulls, and the case is made of 100% unbleached cotton (zero chemicals for the win!).
2) YOGI TEAS SOOTHING CARAMEL BEDTIME TEA
I can't take credit for this Yogi Bedtime tea—Tim Ferris actually got me hooked on it. My husband and I drink it every single night in bed together (and have it on an Amazon subscription so we don’t run out). Having a hot cup of herbal tea is a great way to relax and calm the body before bed, and this one happens to be my personal favorite for a few reasons. First of all, all of the ingredients are non-GMO. Secondly, the mix of herbs in this particular blend is specifically designed to promote sleep. Chamomile, skullcap, and poppy all soothe the nervous system and may help reduce anxiety. As an added benefit, the mixture of vanilla and caramel tastes amazing!
3) GOOD QUALITY EARPLUGS
I got into using earplugs to sleep back when I was in college and my husband and I lived in a super noisy apartment. Even though we no longer have to deal with noisy neighbors and are happily settled on a quiet culdesac in the suburbs, I still use earplugs to guarantee a good night of sleep. My husband occasionally snores (even though he denies it) and the train whistles toots, so the earplugs drown that out.
4) NO CAFFEINE AFTER 2 PM
If you're a coffee lover like me, you've probably found yourself in the situation when your heart is racing at bedtime thanks to that 4 PM latte. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system which can disrupt sleep patterns when consumed too late in the day. I've even read articles from sleep experts that recommend cutting out caffeine completely from your diet. These days, I'm definitely more conscious of how much caffeine I'm consuming, and if I do have a cup of coffee, I make sure it's before 2 PM.
P.S. If you're looking for an awesome afternoon coffee alternative, I'm a huge fan of Dandy Blend tea. It is the closest thing I've found to coffee and is gluten-free + caffeine free!
5) ALARM I LOVE WAKING UP TO
I love my alarm clock. It syncs to my iPhone so I get to wake up to music I enjoy instead of scrambling to silence some blaring BEEP BEEP BEEP. Knowing I get to wake up to some of my favorite tunes makes me go to bed looking forward to getting up in the morning! Currently, I wake up to “Needtobreathe: Difference Maker” which has an acoustic intro that is so lovely to start the day too.
6) LIMIT MYSELF TO 60 MIN OF TV AT NIGHT
I used to be all about binging on Netflix at the end of the day. I would stay up way past my bedtime trying to squeeze in one more episode of House of Cards, and next thing I knew I'd be tossing and turning in bed, worrying about facing the next day on 6 hours of sleep (my body functions best with 9 hours, so with only 6 I am seriously dragging). A lot of sleep experts recommend keeping electronics out of the bedroom and limiting their use past 8 or 9 PM, but for me personally, I've found that watching an episode of my favorite show with my husband before bed helps me unwind. (I do, however, keep my cell phone out of the bedroom.)
Nowadays, instead of going on a hardcore Netflix or Amazon Prime binge, I limit myself to one episode of a show each night. My husband and I just wrapped up Man in the High Castle and are currently loving Mozart in the Jungle. Even if we really want to know what happens next once the credits start rolling, we've made a pact to turn off the TV and opt for a good night's sleep instead.
7) IN BED BY 10 PM
Did you know the most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 PM – 2 AM? Yep. This is prime sleep time. I know for me, if I'm not in bed by 10 PM one of two things happen—either I'll wake up not feeling as rested because I didn't get a big chunk of “deep sleep time”, or else I'll get a second wind and it's difficult for me to fall asleep at all. I try to make sure I am in bed by 9pm, which means my teeth are brushed and my face is washed. That gives me an hour to sip on my tea and watch a show with the hubby and shut my eyes around 10pm.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
If you have an evening routine or bedtime product that you love, leave a comment and let me know!