We all know sleep is important. It's essential, just like food, water and air. But why do we need sleep? And how do we get our best rest every night? We're sharing our favorite tips for you to optimize your sleep.
Why do we Need Sleep?
First, it’s important to understand why and how we sleep. While you sleep, although you're mostly still, your body is active—it goes through processes of restoration so that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer your day. Without enough sleep, you may experience serious problems, including mood swings and a weakened immune system. You also put yourself at higher risk of serious disease.
Your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is responsible for your wake and sleep cycles. Along with your internal clock, your sleep cycles are directly impacted by your exposure to sunlight and the external temperature. This is why we wake up when the sun comes up and get sleepy when the sun goes down. It's also why too much light in your bedroom can make it harder to fall asleep. (We'll dive into that a little deeper when we talk about nighttime rituals for relaxation!)
The Effect of Time Change on Sleep
Every spring, the clock springs forward an hour and every fall, it falls back. Not only does the start of daylight saving time naturally wake you up an hour earlier (when the sun rises), it can also interrupt your natural, REM sleep cycle by about an hour. The same thing happens when you've been traveling between time zones.
When we sleep, we experience multiple, 90-minute REM sleep cycles. REM sleep is the deep sleep that occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. It's characterized by rapid eye movement—this is where it gets its name—and an increased heart rate. Since your brain is more active during these cycles, you may also experience intense dreams during REM sleep.
So, when the clocks change by an hour or you change time zones, your REM sleep cycle will most likely be disrupted, which can leave you feeling groggy and tired when you wake up instead of well-rested. In the spring, if you’re used to waking up at 7 a.m., you’re going to feel like you’re waking up at 6 a.m. until your body adjusts to the new sleep cycle.
You may be wondering why that's a big deal. It's only an hour! Well, even though we are only losing one hour in the spring and gaining one hour in the fall, research shows that even that small, one-hour shift in your sleep can impact your sleep cycle for up to a week while your body adjusts. Plus, people who sleep less in general per night (7.5 hours or less, on average) and those of us who are early birds usually have the hardest time adjusting our sleep schedules when the clock changes.
Just because we lose an hour of sleep doesn’t mean we should sacrifice the quality of our rest. We’re breaking down some ways you can make the most of the rest you get during daylight saving time.
4 Tips to Make the Most of Your Rest
1. Create a Bedroom Sanctuary
Have you ever heard of hygge? It's a Danish word that describes the feeling of cozy, intimate contentment, of connection and warmth. Bringing hygge to a space means creating a feeling of well-being where you celebrate the everyday. It's the art of building a sanctuary. Your bedroom should bring you hygge. It should be an oasis of rest—somewhere you can escape to when it’s time to wind down for bed or when you just need a few minutes to yourself. Create a bed that you love so you can get that “ahh,” hygge feeling every night. (Seriously, is there anything better?!)
Some of the most important parts of creating a bedroom sanctuary include:
- Finding the right mattress (we offer the all-foam Leesa mattress and the Sapira hybrid mattress)
- Adding the perfect pillow (or two)
- Adding great sheets (you want them to be light, comfy and breathable)
- Making your bed cozy with layers (blankets, throw pillows, etc.)
Of course, we’re here to help you cozy-up your bedroom sanctuary. At Leesa, we have two (great) mattresses, pillows, bed bases and sleep accessories for you to create a relaxing, restful space. Shop our current offer and create a bed you love.
When it comes to bedtime, you should also try to eliminate electronic devices (as much as you can). Your electronics, like your computer, TV and phone, emit blue light, which keeps you awake. Blue light stimulates your brain, which is not what you want when you’re trying to fall asleep. This includes those of us who fall asleep to the TV. While this may be what you’re used to, it may actually be keeping you from your best rest. Your bedroom should be as dark as possible so you can get deeper sleep.
2. Create a Sleep Schedule
Daylight saving time or not, many people find that having a sleep schedule is helpful. A sleep schedule is a habit of sleep where you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
A sleep schedule should work with your natural circadian rhythms—you should wake up with the sun and go to sleep once the sun’s gone down. Maintaining a sleep schedule can not only help you get better, deeper rest, but once you’re used to your schedule, it can help you fall asleep more quickly.
It’s also good practice to expose yourself to natural light for a few minutes when you wake up. Even sitting in the sun for 5 to 10 minutes first thing in the morning can kick-start your internal clock and help you feel energized and ready for your day.
Raise your hand if you love to nap (we sure do!). If you have time in your day, sometimes taking a nap can be helpful, too. Just be careful, if you nap for too long (or too short), it may actually make you feel more tired.
3. Practice Bedtime Rituals for Relaxation
With a busy schedule and a lot going on, it can be hard to turn off your brain at night. If you’re one of those people who often stays awake, staring at the ceiling at night, having a bedtime ritual may help you wind down and fall to sleep.
- Try nighttime meditation to help you get better rest. Meditation has many proven physical, mental and emotional benefits, from improving your focus to decreasing stress to lowering your blood pressure.
- Practice some low-intensity yoga for relaxation before bed. Yoga can help you quiet your mind, relax your body, fall to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Play relaxing white noise at bedtime. White noise creates a blanket of noise while you snooze, masking any outside sounds. That way, you aren't woken up in the middle of the night to a car engine outside or by your partner getting ready for work in the morning.
- Drink a cup of warm tea before bed. Not only can tea itself (decaf, of course) help you fall asleep, but the methodical process of making a cup of tea every night can be soothing, too.
4. Get plenty of exercise during the day
In general, it’s recommended to get at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. While this is healthy for your muscles, bones and heart, it can also help you sleep better.
Many experts say that regular exercise can help you get deeper, more restful sleep at night. The most obvious reason exercise can help you get better rest is the physical exertion that you experience after a good workout. Exercise has also been found to help reduce anxiety and depression, which can help you wind down and fall asleep at night. Additionally, when you exercise, your body temperature increases. So, the drop in body temperature as you cool down after a workout can help you fall asleep and sleep better. Just be careful how close your workout is to bedtime. While it may not affect everyone, working out too close to bedtime (with an increased heart rate and release of endorphins) may make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Whether you've been traveling and are experiencing jet leg, are adjusting during daylight saving time or just looking to sleep better in general, let Leesa help you get your best rest. Hurry, shop our offer before it's gone.