Sleep is the ultimate form of rest. No matter how busy we are, we should sleep for the recommended hours for our age. Without enough sleep, the quality of our work and life declines.
Sadly, we live in a world where productivity is valued over rest. Young people are pressured to “hustle” all the time, even at the cost of their health. They function on caffeine instead of nutritious food and set aside only a few hours for slumber because “sleep is for the weak.”
If your lifestyle or job really leaves little time for sleep, then you can’t afford a bad quality of sleep. Thankfully, you can control most things that affect your sleep quality. By getting rid of these things before your bedtime, you’ll have no one and nothing to blame for your sleep deprivation anymore:
1. Your Electronics
Most of us lie down in bed with the lights off but don’t go to sleep. Instead, we’d scroll down our feeds, watch YouTube videos, or read something online.
We think doing these things makes us sleepier, but it’s the opposite. Smartphones, tablets, computers, and gaming devices emit blue light. Blue light has a short wavelength that interferes with our circadian rhythm. It makes our bodies produce melatonin — a sleep hormone — slower, resulting in insomnia and poor sleep.
Some studies also show that blue light and insufficient melatonin can shorten our time in deep sleep (REM sleep). This impacts our memory and mood and causes us to feel tired in the daytime.
To sleep better, refrain from using your electronics two hours before sleeping. It won’t be easy, so get rid of the habit in baby steps. You can read books or do some meditation instead; it can help your body relax faster.
2. Bright, Fluorescent, or LED Lights
Though some people can sleep with the lights on, this habit isn’t advisable at all. Bright overhead lights (or lamp lights) also emit some levels of blue light. A better alternative would be dim lights. They give off a more relaxing ambiance and don’t overwhelm your eyes.
3. The Heating or Cooling System
Of course, you need a heating or cooling system to sleep comfortably, but its settings could also ruin your sleep. If the room is too cold or too hot, your body can’t relax. It may be fun to snuggle into the warmth of your duvet or quilt, but not if you’re still shivering. On the other hand, it’s definitely irksome to sleep sweating. So allow yourself to sleep with comfortable room temperatures; your electric bill won’t necessarily increase because of it.
4. Low-quality Mattress
If you often wake up with a stiff neck or backache, it could be your mattress’ fault. Not all mattresses are made equal. Cheap ones are most likely poor in quality.
When buying a mattress, it’s best to go to a trusted mattress store than order online. That way, you can test each type and determine which one feels the most comfortable. When choosing, consider each type’s bounce, firmness, outer layers, and material. Mattresses are made of various materials, including latex, memory foam, or foam with springs. The right type for you depends on your personal requirements. For example, if you often suffer from a hot sleep, you need a type that doesn’t trap heat, like latex or memory foam. If you’re a side sleeper, innerspring or soft foam types will suit you best. They offer pressure relief points around your shoulders and hips.
5. Unsupportive Pillow
Lastly, if you need a good mattress, you also need a good pillow. Old pillows don’t serve you well anymore. You actually need to replace your pillows every one to two years.
Like mattresses, there are also different types of pillows. If you’re a stomach or back sleeper, low-profile to medium-thickness pillows, suit you best. They’ll keep your head and neck closer to the mattress. If you sleep on your back, you can also place a smaller pillow underneath your knees to relieve pressure from your lower back.
If you sleep on your side, you need to pay more attention to the height of your pillow. Your neck and head can’t be close to the mattress. Go for medium- to high-thickness pillows, preferably firmer ones, too. Put a pillow made with lower density components between your knees to keep your upper hip and pelvis aligned with your lower back.
You can spend a long time in blissful REM sleep and wake up refreshed by getting better sleep essentials. Don’t take sleep for granted; it can prolong your life and optimize your health.