Better, restful sleep for a better, rested you

This blog is courtesy of Julia Merrill, who started BefriendYouDoc to close the gap between medical providers and their patients, aiming to provide tips on finding the right medical care, health insurance, and all things health and wellness. 


Think about the last time you got a full, restful, eight hours’ worth of sleep. Remember how you felt when you woke up? You probably didn’t stumble into the kitchen and embrace your coffee maker. Instead, you probably had a bit of pep as you began your morning routine. What if you could feel that way every morning without having to first gulp down a cup of coffee? You can. Getting a restful night of sleep – a full eight hours of it – can be yours if you just become mindful of a few concepts and change the way you prepare yourself for bed.

First, Some Facts

A lot of us are operating each day on a sleep debt (also called a sleep deficit). According to Molly Webster of Scientific American, it’s the “difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get.” What happens? Your productivity at work suffers. Your blood pressure increases. You are more susceptible to type 2 diabetes because of changes to glucose metabolism.

Sleep deficit also lowers children’s energy levels and causes poor performance in school. As it turns out, not getting enough sleep is downright dangerous – click here to learn more about the dangers of sleep debt.

To get restful sleep each night, try the following tips:

  1. Invest in a New Mattress and Pillows

This should be a priority for everyone in your household, including the children. If your current mattress is more than eight to 10 years old, it is probably breaking down in places, especially the center and edges. Toppers and padded covers might help for a while, but they aren’t a long-term solution. When you are mattress shopping, try to find one that’s just the right amount of firmness in the places where you need it (lower and upper back, hips, and calves). If you’re a side sleeper, see how it feels against your shoulders and hips. If your pillows are as thin as saltine crackers, it’s time to replace those, too. Your pillow choice should be based on your sleeping position or whether or not you need a specialty pillow. As always, shop around for the best deals. Even if it becomes a sizeable investment, think of how restful your and your family’s sleep will be.

Sleep well - woman sleeping

  1. Cool It Down

Have you ever tried to sleep in a room without air conditioning during the hottest nights of the summer? You probably didn’t sleep well. Ideally, bedrooms should be cooler during the evenings, with a temperature around 65 degrees. Why? Your body’s temperature drops as the evening wears on and you grow tired. This temperature keeps your body’s temperature lower, which helps maintain restful sleep. If you have central air in your house, consider using small window units to cool down the bedroom without running the central air unit all night.

  1. Turn it Off

Our various devices – tablets, smartphones, laptops, and TVs – emit what’s called blue light, which tricks our brains into thinking that it is still daylight outside. Blue light affects circadian rhythm, which is our internal body clock that regulates our sleep-and-wake cycles. While we may love to check what’s going on in social media throughout the evening or think we need to respond to a few dozen e-mails about a work crisis late at night, we need to remember to shut these devices off early enough so that we’re not disrupting this cycle. This affects children, too, so be sure to get them away from their video games long before it’s time to go to bed. The sooner we prepare our bodies and minds for sleep, the more restful it will be.

These three simple tips can help you overcome your sleep deficit and put your body and health back in balance.


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