The 9 Best Things You Can Do for a More Restful Sleep
If you’ve only got a few hours to sleep every night, you want to make them count.
Listen, we all know we’re supposed to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night, and if you can do it, great! More power to you. But what if you can only get six? Or even four? If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to wake up at the crack of dawn for a flight or a shoot, it’s us.
Given that we’re all about being as productive as possible in everything that we do, we thought we’d super-charge our sleep as well. So, we reached out to Vicki Fulop, who loves sleep so much she started a company based around it—Brooklinen—which makes some of the coziest (and chicest!) sheets around.
Here are her tips to best optimize whatever time you have available.
“Research shows that a cool room at approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for a good night’s sleep. If you have a thermostat, go ahead and set it. If you don’t, open a window, turn off your heat/AC unit, and (shameless plug!) get our sheets. They’re spun from 100-percent long-staple cotton (a fine cotton, and much more breathable than other fabric blends and weaves like polyester, flannel, or jersey). The percale weave is the lighter of our two offerings (‘Classic’ is percale and ‘Luxe’ is sateen) and will make the whole bed feel like the cool side of the pillow.
“Your core body temperature plays a key role in your circadian rhythm (which is essentially an internal clock that signals your body when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up), and is therefore crucial for getting quality sleep. At night, your temperature drops slightly, which cues the onset of sleep. If it gets elevated, be it by a too-warm room or bedding that traps too much heat, your body’s natural sleep setting gets disrupted, and you wind up waking up clammy and hot or tossing and turning throughout the night.
“Another quick cool-down trick? Jump in a warm bath or shower an hour before bedtime, and as your body cools down it will help trigger sleep. This is a great trick to keep in your back pocket for when you are traveling and might not have access to your other go-tos.”
Cut the caffeine (and the booze, just a little)
“Caffeine stays in your system for upwards of eight hours (it has a half-life of 3-5 hours), so cutting it after 2pm will go a long way towards helping you sleep soundly. Alcohol, which can make you feel drowsy initially, interferes with sleep in the long-term because it disrupts REM sleep. It’s fine to imbibe a little at dinner, just switch to a non-alcoholic beverage after. Bonus points for a calming herbal tea like chamomile.”
“Countless medical journals report that exercise is excellent for getting a better night’s rest—even people with chronic insomnia reported better sleep in this study. It’s the ultimate sleep-well elixir.”
Get into a rhythm
“If you’ve ever suffered through jet lag, you know how hard it can be for your body to adjust to new sleep patterns. Going to sleep and waking up at about the same time every day—even on weekends—has the reverse effect. A routine will help put your brain and body on a healthy sleep-wake schedule, and will help you fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly through the night.”
Embrace the darkness
“Your body’s circadian rhythm isn’t just controlled by temperature—all sorts of environmental factors are triggers that help it tell you when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Light, at any time of day, signals that it’s time to be awake and alert, while darkness signals the opposite. Dimming the lights—in your bedroom and on your electronic devices—tells your body it’s time to wind down.”
“If you’ve got someone you enjoy getting tangled up in the sheets with, you might as well know that having sex makes you release relaxation-inducing hormones like oxytocin and prolactin, and decreases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol! The result—better sleep.”
Don’t eat a meal right before bed
“Eating stimulates your digestion, which will keep your body’s engine revving instead of resting. Certain foods can also be potential disruptors in other ways—i.e., if they contain caffeine or are prone to causing heartburn. A small snack is fine, just be careful of what you consume, and don’t overdo it.”
“Nagging thoughts and stress are basically sleep’s arch-nemeses. Luckily, numerous studies show that mindfulness meditation can truly help. The practice involves focusing on one’s breathing and helps elicit a relaxation response in the body, thereby getting you into a better mental state for sleep.”
“For many of the team at Brooklinen, essential oils are, well, essential for a good night’s sleep.”