Your Ultimate Guide to Improving Sleep Habits

a woman sleeping on her stomach with her phone beside her on the bedDo you have a hard time waking up, and then have a hard time getting back to sleep at night? You may feel like you can’t get enough sleep during the week, so you try to make up for it over the weekend. Studies show that you can’t really make up rest that way, but if you’re like most people, you spend most of your life feeling sleep deprived.

Most people feel like they could use some improvement when it comes to getting enough sleep, but don’t realize there are things they can do to make that happen. One of the easiest and best ways to start getting the sleep you need and deserve is simply to change your bedroom so it becomes more conducive to sleep. Healthy, regular sleep is important enough that it’s worth the effort to make the necessary changes and improve your life.

The Importance of Quality Sleep

How you sleep can be one of the most important indicators of your overall health. Getting quality sleep can affect your mental and physical health, your emotional stability, your quality of life, and even your safety. Being well-rested and aware can help you sharp and keep you from getting in accidents throughout the day and falling asleep while you drive.

Health Benefits Sleep Provides

Getting enough sleep on a regular basis can help you avoid obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and stroke. It can also help regulate the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. You may think you have an eating disorder when you’re really just tired. Sleep can help regulate your glucose levels and release the hormones that help children grow. You depend on your immune system, and your immune system depends on you getting enough rest. You may find it difficult to fight a common cold if you are too tired.

The mood swings you experience when operating on a sleep deficiency can cause you to feel angry, sad, or unmotivated. In extreme cases, sleep deficiency has been linked to depression, risk-taking behaviors, and suicide. At the very least, you will have a hard time paying attention. You may not even realize you are drowsy until you find yourself waking up after crashing your vehicle. “Microsleep” refers to small moments of sleep that occur when you should be awake and can cause you to forget part of your day.

Myths About Sleep

  • a man resting his head on his desk in front of his laptop with a mug of coffee beside himFive Hours Is Enough Sleep: How much sleep you need depends partly on your age and partly on your individual needs. Infants up until about a year old need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep a day, while adults are on the other end and need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. You may feel like you can get by on less sleep, but your body wants more.
  • You Can Make Up for Lost Sleep: The amount of sleep you are behind is called your “sleep debt“. If you lose two hours of sleep every night for a week, your sleep debt for that week is 14 hours. The bad thing is that you can’t really make up for the prolonged sleep you get at night by taking naps or sleeping more on a different day. Trying to make up for missed sleep could even interfere with your sleep-wake rhythm.
  • Using Your Phone or Watching TV Helps You Fall Asleep: This belief is just a myth, and unfortunately, many people have televisions, phones, and computers in their rooms that they leave on all night long. Many people are convinced that these habits help them wind down and provide a background which makes it easier to sleep, but the truth is that all of these keep you from getting quality sleep.

Keep a Fan in Your Bedroom

There are several benefits of using a fan while you sleep, and it’s easy to find a good fan that will last for a long time. Let’s take a look at how the use of a fan can improve your sleep quality at night.

Fans Control Air Temperature

One of the most important factors in good sleep is comfort. If you’re too hot, you’ll wake up sweaty, and if you’re too cold, you’ll wake up looking for the covers. In order to get a good night’s sleep, you need to have your room at a comfortable and consistent temperature.

Sleeping in a cold room is better for your health—you might be tempted to keep the room warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, but experts agree that the best temperature for sleeping is between about 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if it takes you a little while to get used to it, if you have other habits, you will find that you are simply more comfortable sleeping in a colder room.

Besides just comfort, there are more reasons the temperature makes a difference.

  • a three-tiered fan on the floor beside a bed with a green and white bedspreadBabies have reduced SIDS rates in rooms with fans.
  • When the temperature is more than 70 degrees while you are sleeping, your body will stop producing melatonin. which is a hormone your body uses to protect you from aging.
  • With a lower temperature, your body will release less of the stress hormone cortisol, which will affect your anxiety levels throughout the day.
  • The lowered amount of cortisol being released is also tied to bad habits like impulse eating, so sleeping in a better temperature could help you lose weight.
  • Sleeping at a reduced temperature makes you burn more calories when you are awake, putting you at a lowered risk of metabolic diseases. Metabolic disorders include diabetes, high cholesterol, and excess fat around the waist.

Fans Provide White Noise

When you first turn on your fan you are conscious of the noise it makes. As it stays on in the background, it becomes background white noise. Your mind can focus on it, and many people come to find it soothing. The white noise of a desk fan or tower fan also evens out other noises that you might hear throughout the night. Normal distractions that might wake you like a car honking or a dog barking are hidden behind the white noise of the fan. You will still be able to hear loud noises if there is an emergency, but regular distractions are smoothed out.

White noise helps you establish a bedtime ritual, which will help you and your family settle down at night and drop off to sleep more quickly. Your room will be quiet, and your brain will focus on the white noise, lulling your brain into inactivity so you can stop dealing with your worries. The best thing about sleeping with white noise in the background is that you can stay asleep, which will make you feel far more rested in the morning. You will also sleep more deeply, meaning that the quality of your sleep will be better and you will feel more refreshed in the morning.

Fans are Less Expensive than the AC

a calculator on top of an unpaid utility billFans are cheaper than AC to buy and maintain, so you can actually save money on the wear and tear of your far more expensive HVAC unit. Many people have had the same fan for so long they don’t remember when they bought it, and you can easily purchase a fan for a very small amount of money. Even the most high-end bladeless fan costs just a small amount of money when compared to purchasing a new AC.

Even more importantly, you will save on energy costs. Fans don’t take much energy to run, even if you are using them all night long. You will see your savings start to add up immediately once you start using a fan to help you find your comfort zone at night.

Fans Help Ventilate the Room

A room where a fan is going constantly feels and smells different. Fans keep the room better ventilated, keeping the air moving constantly. It will feel easier to breathe in a room where the air feels fresher. The constant air movement will also help get rid of any odd lingering smells in your sleeping environment. With constant air movement, some people feel like they’re in a more open environment, so they feel freer and less claustrophobic.

Use Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

Your fan will help get rid of any lingering smells in your room, and you can use essential oils to create an environment that will help you sleep even better.

How to Use Essential Oils for Better Sleep

an amber bottle of essential oil with a dropper next to it and lavender flowers on the table around themOur sense of smell is wired to our brain’s centers of memory and emotion. The ancient practice of using essential oils for medicinal purposes takes advantage of the way our bodies and brains respond to those kinds of stimuli, and modern practitioners use essential oils to enhance sleep, relieve stress, and help with mood and physical discomfort.

A recent study found that essential oils helped improve the quality of sleep for women. Some of the best essential oils for sleep include:

  • Lavender: A soothing scent that also helps reduce anxiety
  • Vanilla: Has sedative effects and the ability to lower blood pressure
  • Rose and geranium: Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Jasmine: Cuts down on restlessness at night
  • Citrus: Shown to improve sleep quality

Citrus and sandalwood can be used by some to help reduce anxiety, which can improve sleep, but individuals may also find themselves to be more awake and aware when utilizing those. Every person is different, so it is a matter of finding what works best for you.

You can use your oils in several different ways. You can use a diffuser to spray your bedroom, or make your own mist for your bedding. You can also simply apply the oils directly onto your skin, if dilluted correctly.

Essential Oil Safety

Anything can be used improperly, so it is important be familiar with essential oil safety precautions.

  • Most essential oils should be diluted to below 5 percent so they will be safe for your skin. Remember, essential oils can only be diluted in another oil, as oil and water do not mix. Use a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil to cut the potency of your essential oil. Failure to do so can cause burns, rashes, and other irritations where the oil makes contact with your skin.
  • You should perform a patch test first. Simply wash and dry a small part of your arm, put a few drops of your essential oils on the area, then cover with a gauze and check the area again in 24 hours.
  • Be mindful of animals and young children around the house. Menthol oils should never be used around children, while tea tree oil and citric oils can be toxic or even lethal to cats and dogs, even in small quantities. Children and animals will be affected more intensely by essential oils as their weight is less than that of an adult.

Essential oils are not regulated, so you should get the assistance of someone who understands them well before trying on your own. You should also never ingest them in any way they weren’t intended.

Pick the Right Mattress for Your Sleep Position

a woman inspecting a mattress for salePhysical comfort is also important for your sleep, and a good mattress and sleep habits can keep you from having other health problems down the road. Your sleep position can also affect your sleep. Here are the three positions people commonly sleep in at night:

  • Back Sleepers: Sleeping on your back with your arms out feels the most open and free and is also supposed to be the best position for you. Many people don’t find this position comfortable, though, and it can be associated with sleep problems like apnea.
  • Side Sleepers: Side sleepers are normally in the fetal position, the yearner position, or the log position, which has straight limbs. The fetal position is the most popular among those.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Sleeping on your stomach can strain your neck, as it requires you to keep your head turned all night.

The space in the lumbar area is usually the only one which needs extra support for back sleepers, which is why they can find comfort on a thin mattress, even just a 2-inch top comfort layer. Side sleepers need a bigger comfort zone, and will sleep better if they have a 3-inch, softer comfort layer. Thin comfort layers are better for stomach sleepers, who don’t have recessed areas to support.

There are also combination sleepers, which includes most people. In those cases, it is better to choose the comfort level for the position where you sleep the deepest.

Conclusion

There are several easy ways to improve your sleep quality and length and even more reasons to go ahead and do it. Poor sleep causes both short term and long term health problems and even affects your mood and psychological health. From getting a fan, to using essential oils, to finding the best comfort level while you sleep, these are some easy ways to make big changes, and you don’t have to do them all at once. You won’t regret making the changes you need to start getting the sleep your body needs.