5 Easy Ways to Get More Sleep This Spring
A peaceful slumber is easier said than done. Wellness and sleep experts weigh in on the simplest ways to get better rest this season.
Moving the clock forward at Daylight Savings Time marks the unofficial start of spring—and, unfortunately, one less hour of rest. Not super ideal when so many of us are already sleep deprived as it is. “Most adults need between seven and nine hours of good sleep a night to feel rested,” says CEO of Nest Bedding Joe Alexander, author of the brand’s Sleep Doctor blog. “But getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, which is why one in three adults don’t get enough sleep each night.”
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. The start of a new season is a perfect time to re-evaluate your sleep schedule and embark on a little spring clean of your nocturnal habits—the benefit of which can have a major impact on your waking life: “If you can add more sleep into your daily routine you will find a marked improvement in your overall ability to concentrate, make decisions, and manage stress,” explains Dr. Eddie Fatakhov, MD. Win-win. Below, wellness and sleep experts weigh in on how to do exactly that.
1. Cut Back on Caffeine
“It takes nine hours for caffeine to leave your system,” says Phoebe Yu of organic bedding company Ettitude. To keep your energy levels up, replace your usual afternoon cappuccino with cardio instead. “Exercise—specifically, 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic—is one of the single best ways to improve the quality of your sleep,” says Dr. Michael Breus, clinical psychologist and diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. “Research shows that those who have a regular exercise program get deeper sleep.”
2. Detox From Your Screen
“Seventy-one percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone, having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand,” says Alexander. That’s a problem because handheld electronics produce short-wave blue light that is disruptive to melatonin production. He recommends designating the hour before bed as “screen-free time” in order to reduce the negative impacts of light emission, while Kat Dey, cofounder and president of Ettitude, takes it a step further: “Remove smartphones from your bedroom completely, and get an old-school manual alarm clock; that way you’ll have no reason to have your phone charging by your bed at all.”
3. Create a Sleep Sanctuary
Dr. Breus says sleeping in a cool, very dark room is key: “Light is the single biggest factor telling your body that it is morning; in the evenings use a book light for reading, change bulb wattage to 45 at the bedside table, and use a night light in the bathroom to get you there and back to sleep easily.” He also recommends checking your pillow: “Your pillow should be replaced every year; choose a pillow based on what side you sleep on, if you have back pain, and your allergies.” Alexander agrees: “Discomfort is a big problem—many people go too long with worn out beds and pillows, with the incorrect feel.” Choose organic bedding to limit exposure to sleep-destroying toxins, and, if you can’t spring for a whole new mattress, try a mattress topper made from sustainable memory foam. Brands like Leesa and Casper offer breathable versions that help regulate body temperature to keep you cool while you sleep—which in turn, helps you stay asleep.
4. Work In a Wind-Down Ritual
“Our minds and bodies can’t switch on and off as easily as our smartphones— we need time to transition slowly into sleep,” says Trevor Ellestad, education manager and in-house herbalist and aromatherapist at Saje. “That’s why having a nighttime routine to wind down is so important; it gives our mind and body what it needs to relax and prepare itself for deep, restorative sleep.” He recommends inhaling a soothing essential oil like lavender, chamomile, orange oil, or valerian, which all “calm nerves, soothe anxiety, and promote deep sleep.” You can also try massaging a bit of diluted marjoram oil onto your pulse points to promote relaxation. Taking an herbal supplement formulated with CBN (CBD’s lesser-known but super-sleep-promoting cannabinoid cousin) can also help your body fully relax and has the added benefits of regulating the immune system and relieving pain.
5. Get Mindful
“When I can’t sleep, it’s usually because my mind is running amok with thoughts and ideas. Instead of dwelling on the thoughts—which we all know can make it worse—try a meditation,” says Dey. “Meditation gives your brain the rest it needs to reset itself, and it will likely help you fall asleep naturally; kill two birds with one stone.”
Alexander adds that practicing mindfulness meditation and deep-breathing techniques helps you stay in the moment and significantly decrease anxiety: “One mindfulness technique to try is a body scan, which can be done by slowly scanning your body and relaxing each muscle one by one,” he says. “Something that works for me personally is counting down from 99 to 1; Counting backwards takes more effort than merely reciting numbers, which forces you to quiet your mind and focus on counting,” he explains.
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