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The Secret to Getting a Good Night’s Rest

Updated on January 9, 2017
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Sadie Holloway loves researching and writing about simple ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

On average, we spend 7-10 hours a day in bed. If we're lucky, most of that time is spent sleeping and relaxing, not tossing and turning. If a good night's sleep is a priority for you, read on to find out how to create a luxurious sleeping environment that can help lull you to sleep each night.

Have you taken a good look at your bed lately? If you were paying $250 a night to stay in a fancy hotel, would you be satisfied with a bed like yours in a 5-star hotel room? If not, then it's time to make your bed a top priority and give it a refreshing, but affordable make-over.

Comfort is key to a soothing rest at the end of a long day. Give yourself the 5-star treatment. Paul McKenna, author of I Can Make You Sleep, says that most people end up keeping their pillows, duvets, blankets, and mattresses for far too long. Over time the bedding that you surround yourself with for 7 hours a day, becomes less and less comfortable. He reminds us of an old adage: "Never skimp on your bed or shoes, because if you are not in one, you are in the other."

McKenna points out that If you compare the cost of spending one night in a high-end luxury hotel to the cost of updating your room with a few bedding essentials, it makes sense to splurge on something that is so critical to your health and well-being: your bed!

Don't be miserly when it comes to your linens. Always go for high-quality sheets, pillowcases and comforters. If buying a matched set of high-thread count (at least 1000) linens is out of your price range, buy pieces as you are able to. Start with the pillow cases, then the sheet set, then the duvet cover. While everyone wants to have a pretty bed to sleep on each night, it's more important that the sheets have the quality and comfort that you need. With a little bit of planning and an eye for color and pattern, you create a beautiful set of bed linens that don't all come from the same designer manufacturer. Pay attention to white sales at your favorite stores and don't be afraid to shop around until you find the best linens at the best prices possible. Also, remember that sheets come in different textures as well: satin, sateen, cotton, rayon, jersy and flannel.

Is your mattress giving you the support you need? Consider upgrading or updating your old mattress. If your mattress is sagging in some areas and stiff in others but rotating it doesn't make it may more comfortable, it's time to either invest in a brand new mattress or update your current mattress with one of the many new types of mattress pads available now. These mattress pads can be feather-beds, memory-foam pads or even made of natural sheep skin. What's great about them is that for a relatively reasonable price, you can try out different mattress pads first rather than investing in a whole new mattress.

Your head isn't the only thing that needs support. Pillows aren't just for your head. They can keep your whole body properly aligned. Choosing the right pillow can make a significant difference in getting a good night’s rest. But with so many choices out there -- all different shapes, sizes and densities -- it can take time finding a pillow that is just right for you.

Whether you sleep on your back, your side or your stomach, look for a pillow that supports your head and keeps it in natural alignment with your spine. You don’t want to wake up with kinks and cramps in your neck in the morning. If you sleep in multiple positions at night, you may need one or two extra pillows of different densities to accommodate your different positions. Remember, pillows aren't just for putting under your head. Placing pillows under your knees (when you are on your back) or between your knees (when you are on your side), can ease back strain.

Foods To Avoid If You Want a Good Night’s Sleep

If you struggle with frequent restlessness at night and find it hard to fall asleep, it might be a good idea to figure out if you are unknowingly consuming too much caffeine before bedtime. According to the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, these are some of the most common foods and drinks that contain caffeine:

Hot Beverages (per 10-ounce serving)

  • Coffee, brewed: 170 - 200 mg
  • Coffee, decaffeinated: 5 - 10 mg
  • Tea: 50 - 100 mg
  • Hot Cocoa: 5 - 20 mg

Cold Beverages (per 12-ounce serving)

  • Cola/Soft Drinks: 40 - 60 mg
  • Bottled Iced Tea: 25 - 35 mg

Food (per 1-ounce serving)

  • Milk Chocolate: 1 - 15 mg
  • Dark Chocolate: 20 mg
  • Bittersweet Chocolate: 5 - 35 mg

If you want to keep caffeine from interfering with your sleep patterns, sleep specialists suggest that you avoid caffeine 5 - 7 hours before bedtime. As well, the American Medical Association suggests a maximum daily caffeine limit of 200 mg.

Consult Your Doctor

A gentle reminder and word of caution: If you are having serious sleep deprivation issues, consult your doctor.

Chronic insomnia, loud snoring, and sleep apnea are sleep issues that shouldn't be taken lightly. While taking care of your bed and creating a relaxing environment is a step in the right direction for improving your overall sleep habits, if you have prolonged sleep issues that are affecting your overall health and wellness, do not hesitate to contact your family physician. Given our busy lifestyle these days, an occasional night of sleeplessness is not unusual. We've all experienced a bad night here and there. But if your sleep routine is affecting your mental and physical functioning on a daily basis, it is best to seek medical advice from a qualified professional. Some sleep disorders and disruptions in regular sleep patterns can point to other underlying health issues.

References

Duyff, Roberta Larson, American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2012.

McKenna, Paul, I Can Make You Sleep: Overcome Insomnia Forever and Get the Best Rest of Your Life! Sterling. 2016.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway

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