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Whether your 2020 goals revolve around losing weight, reducing stress, or having a more positive attitude, a good place to start tackling these resolutions is in bed. Improving your sleep hygiene and getting the expert-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night is an effective way to kickstart your physical and mental health.
Of course, with our busy schedules and lives, we know catching major zzz’s isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Luckily, there are ways to better our nighttime routine with tips to help you fall asleep faster.
According to sleep coach Beth Wyatt, the goal is to prepare for sleep long before bedtime.
"Thinking about tonight’s sleep as an extension of your day will make you more mindful of how your choices might affect your sleep later,” she explains. "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to fall asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow, but most of us need time to let ourselves unwind.”
To help you reset your sleep hygiene, Wyatt walks us through some tips to keep in mind for the New Year.
Keep it decaf
Caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda can stay in your system for hours. A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. But if you like to enjoy a hot drink right after dinner, Wyatt suggests having herbal tea with honey.
“One teaspoon of honey is enough to stimulate the release of melatonin in the brain,” she says.
Create a playlist
Listening to slow, quiet music can have a relaxing effect on the body and mind. It slows the pulse and heart rate, which lowers blood pressure, and decreases levels of stress hormones.
Cut out electronics an hour before bed
The blue light from screens slows down melatonin production in our bodies and stops the signal that tells our brain it is time to sleep. If you absolutely must use your smartphone or laptop close to bedtime, Wyatt suggests downloading a red light filter app to soften the screen and keep your eyes (and brain!) safe from harmful junk light.
Read a ‘real’ book
Reading a book is proven to help your mind unwind before sleep. According to Wyatt, just six minutes of reading instantly reduces stress levels. Read a real book instead of a tablet as electronic screens slow down the release of melatonin.
For those who prefer the convenience of an e-reader, we suggest checking out the Kobo Forma (Indigo, $300). The Kobo Forma’s adjustable front light is easy on your eyes. It gradually reduces the blue-light exposure that keeps you alert throughout the day, so you can read before bed, then get right to sleep.
Create a peaceful sleep space
Your bedroom should be a haven. Keep it as dark as possible by using blackout curtains, and eliminate all light, no matter how small. Keep your sleep space clear from clutter. Wyatt also encourages filling your bedroom with comforting decor. While soothing scented candles make a great addition for a more restful sleep, we suggest sleeping with a weighted blanket and an adjustable foam or down pillow for the most comfortable and restorative rest.
Make your bed cosy
Your bed should be the most inviting place.
“When you get into your bed, let your body sink into the mattress, breathe deeply and slowly, and enjoy the moment,” Wyatt advises.
If you notice your sleep is becoming less restorative, it could be time to invest in a new mattress. Experts suggest changing your mattress every seven to 12 years.