Asking you not to check your phone before sleep is pretty impossible. All hope is not lost, as there are more realistic ways to ensure sound slumber.
We live in stressful times these days, and winding down after intense meetings, long commutes, and the glare of our Facebook feeds can be hard.
Here are some bedroom must-haves to soothe your senses into submission at bedtime.
A comfortable mattress
Lying on any part of your body for an extended period reduces blood flow to the area, which is why you roll over in your sleep.
A good memory foam mattress moulds itself to your shape and reduces pressure points on your body, making you less likely to toss and turn at night.
If you share your bed with someone, the foam also reduces motion transfer which basically means you won’t feel a thing when your partner goes from Spread Eagle 1 to Spread Eagle 2 at 4am.
Experts recommend a medium firm mattress but that’s really up to you. What’s important is that you test your mattress before you buy it – lie on your back, your sides, and your tummy. Spend at least 5 minutes in each position. You’ll know if it’s the one.
If your mattress is more than 10 years old, it’s time to go shopping.
A supportive pillow
The wrong pillow can keep you up with neck pains, headaches, and wheezing. The goal is to keep your head in ‘neutral alignment’, where it’s tilted neither too far backward nor forward.
If you sleep on your back, opt for a thinner pillow with one of those fancy neck grooves. Side sleepers should look for thicker pillows, while stomach sleepers can benefit from almost flat ones.
Pillows come with all manners of stuffing – foam, memory foam, latex, down, feathers, and cotton. The material is a factor when it comes to firmness and support, but find what works best for you by placing the pillow against the wall and leaning on it. Then, ask a friend to check if your neck is in line with your spine.
1 pillow year is equivalent to 7-ish mattress years, so toss it out after a year and a half. Shed skin cells, fungus, and dust mites can build up in old pillows and make sleep unpleasant.
The right linen is so important with our hot weather. Look for sheets made from 100% natural cotton as they provide better circulation and wick moisture away from your body.
Did you know that you can lose up to a litre of water every night? Now you do. Sheets with a medium thread count of 200 – 400 also give you just as much softness without trapping heat like thicker sheets.
Invest in a dimmer light or switch, or a pretty bedside lamp for the bedroom. The softer lighting clues your body to the fact that you’re ready for sleep, the way twilight did for our ancestors and teen cousins.
If you live in the city, you’ll also have to dim the lights outside the bedroom and home. Blackout curtains block out bright street lights and billboards to create a dark, womb-like space where you can sleep like a child (that has not yet learned to cry).
The shades of your surroundings can affect how you feel – warm colours like red, orange, and yellow increase blood pressure and make you feel irritable.
Opt for soothing pastels, earthy blues and greens, or neutrals like white, grey, and black. Glossy paints are also a no-no in the bedroom as they reflect light unnaturally.
White noise machines
White noise machines seem counterproductive. However, studies show that their benefits go beyond just masking other noises.
Our brains crave sensory input, which is why passing cars or creaking stairs can awaken restless people. Constant white noise gives your brain a low background buzz, thus dampening your alertness.
A whirring fan works just as well. Alternatively, train your cat to purr gently through the night.