Sweet slumber could be yours!
Sleep is a mystery, and I often want to solve it. As someone who likes to stay up late into the wee hours of the night, but also needs eight hours to function, I tend to struggle with finding a healthy rhythm. As a beauty editor I know sleep is important, not to mention the fountain of youth, yet I continue to fight it. Overall 35% of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, but an average of 6.8 hours is not that bad. Unfortunately when you start to break it down 97% of teenagers get less than the recommended amount of sleep, 6 out of 10 college students don’t get adequate sleep, and roughly 20% of Americans have a sleep disorder. 75% of people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety have problems with sleep and 45% of the world’s population have issues with sleep.
There are many studies and statistics to show that on average we are much more sleep deprived than our ancestors. Many wellness and health experts have a lot to say on the subject. Here are their tips!
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Health Coach, Jessica Cording, is a firm believer in the power of baby steps. The healthy living expert also happens to be a journalist, podcaster and author of The Little Book of Game Changers: 50 Healthy Habits for Managing Stress & Anxiety. In her Drama-Free Healthy Living Podcast episode on sleep, Jessica helps her clients and listeners understand the importance of a balanced lifestyle and provides sleep tips. Her easy hacks help set you up for success. Here is what she recommends:
Create An Evening Routine – Set an adequate bedtime and keep it within the same hour or two-hour window every night.
Power Down – Give your body and brain time to shift from “awake-and-doing-things” mode to “bedtime” mode. Do this by setting your daytime tasks aside and stop eating an hour before bed. You do not want to go to sleep hungry or feeling too full.
Eat Foods That Support and Enhance Serotonin – Neurotransmitter serotonin is a chemical precursor to melatonin, the main hormone involved in sleep. Eating foods that enhance serotonin will help get you in the mood for sleep. Try to incorporate animal protein like chicken or fish, bananas, avocados or chickpea in your nighttime diet.
Sleep Environment – Keep your room cool and dark. Secretion of melatonin is dramatically affected by light exposure to the eyes so the darker your room the less trouble you will have falling asleep. Keep electronics out of sight and if you watch TV before bed set a shut-off timer.
Sleep Aids – Get into a calm mind-set with meditation, a white noise machine, aromatherapy, gentle massage, or a mellow activity like reading.
Breathing Exercises – Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds. Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, for 8 seconds. Repeat 4 times, or more if needed.
Be Gentle With Yourself – Routines take time. Be consistent and you will start seeing results.
Recent sleep studies warn that light could be the culprit for lack of quality sleep. Dr. Nilong Vyas, MD is a pediatrician and founder of Sleepless in NOLA. She specializes in helping parents establish healthy sleep habits for children and is on Sleep Foundation’s medical review panel. Dr. Vyas explains the science behind the effects of light on the eyes.
“Your eyes are your direct connection to the part of the brain that controls the circadian rhythm. It is…interpreted by the brain to allow the chemical reactions to take place for healthy (or unhealthy) sleep cycles. If there is a significant amount of light interference at a time when your body is trying to sleep it can cause poor sleep or unhealthfully programmed sleep cycles, which can lead to a significant number of other medical issues. Gradually decreasing and ultimately eliminating light from your sleep environment will allow for improved sleep.”
Molly J. founder Shaina Kerrigan struggled with getting quality sleep, and developed a proprietary sleep formula to help with deep sleep. She feels that sleep is the most important thing you can prioritize for the health of your body and mind, but also knows that “good” sleep feels different for every individual body. Here are her tips for better sleep hygiene.
Stop drinking alcohol a few hours before bedtime. I know – I came right out with a zinger. There’s an overwhelming amount of data that shows consuming alcohol too close to bedtime can keep your heart rate elevated and prevent the true amount of REM and deep sleep needed to wake up feeling refreshed the next day. I’ve made this a soft rule for myself – indulging in a glass of wine for happy hour, but cutting things off by 6pm, for example – and the change is incredibly noticeable.
Invest in great bedding – most notably, your pillow. There’s a reason why we partnered up with Coop for this – I’m obsessed with COOP’s pillows. I take mine with me on every vacation now, and my whole group of friends are hooked on them, too. Outside of that, find yourself a breathable yet comfortable blanket, making sure it has some weight to calm your body. If your mattress or bed frame squeaks throughout the night, plan to invest in upgrades at some point. Lastly, if you’re a side sleeper, get a body pillow to keep your hips in alignment.
White noise machines aren’t just for kids. My husband and I started using a white noise machine when sharing hotel rooms with our kids, and now we can’t be without one ourselves. I’m sure there’s some scientific research that dives into this, but just turning on the sound of our white noise machine seems to signal our body to relax, and it makes dozing off a thousand times easier.
Jot down middle-of-the-night thoughts. One of my favorite sleep hacks that actually works is to roll over and jot down any thoughts onto a note. Waking up with a to-do can be sleep suicide, since you’ll likely start to think about it, plan it out, remember more to-do’s etc., and before you know it, hours have gone by. Getting it down on “paper” and knowing it’ll be there for you the next day allows your brain to let it go and settle back into sleep easily.
Find the right supplements. Make sure you have the right supplements on hand, in case you really truly can’t sleep on your own and need outside assistance. Natural is always better, so I opt for melatonin and CBN, over more extreme measures like Ambien. We made our Blackberry Rose Sleep Gumdrops with that mission in mind, with a formula of CBD, CBN, Melatonin and natural flavors that act as antioxidants for tranquility and calm. It continues to be our #1 bestseller with the highest customer retention – i.e. the product with the most customers coming back for more.
Invest in an Oura Ring. Seriously, this changed my life. When it comes to sleep, the Oura ring goes deeper than any other wearable device by reporting back on the previous night’s Total Duration, Efficiency, Restfulness, REM sleep, Deep sleep, Latency, Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability, and more. With all that data, it’ll give you a Readiness score for the day along with tips on how much to exert yourself based on those measurements. My Oura ring is where I determined even one glass of wine too close to bedtime is bad for me and that our Molly J. Sleep Gumdrops really, actually, legitimately work.
When you can, and if you can, let your body wake up naturally. This is a privilege, I know, but if a weekend morning comes up with nothing on the calendar, don’t set an alarm. Your body knows what it needs, and waking up intuitively can do wonders for your level of energy and readiness the next day.
Ditch the screens and opt for a book. This surely isn’t novel by now, but I’m going to throw the iPhone screen in this bucket, too. Allow yourself one last look at any and all screens at least 30 minutes before you turn the light off. Adjust your eyes to a book or something else non-screen so that your body and mind can get ready for a toned down, and less bright, 8 hours.
Main Photography by Andalucía Andaluía