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Tired of counting sheep? A good night’s sleep is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of our overall well-being. These practical strategies will enhance your evening snooze whether you’re struggling with insomnia, restless nights, or simply seeking ways to optimize your sleep routine. With our research-backed tips, you won’t just experience a rejuvenating night’s sleep — you’ll also wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.

National Sleep Awareness Month: Highlighting the Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

“Every year, the National Sleep Foundation takes this time to reemphasize the important connection between your sleep and your health and well-being,” reports the National Sleep Foundation. And that’s key because many Americans struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. While we typically need at least seven hours of rest a night, researchers warn that more than a third of us get far less than that.

The impacts are real. “Scientists have gone to great lengths to fully understand sleep’s benefits,” explains Harvard Medical School. “In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.”

Brain health is one area where many people are surprised about the benefits of a good night’s sleep. “Research suggests that sleep plays an important role in memory, both before and after learning a new task,” adds Harvard. In fact, quality sleep has been linked to improved cognitive function, including creativity and problem-solving abilities. That’s because when you’re asleep, your brain consolidates memories and processes information, leading to fresh insights and innovative thinking.

In contrast, Harvard notes: “Lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events.” Adequate sleep helps regulate emotions and reduces the risk of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. When well-rested, you’re more likely to approach challenges with a positive outlook.

Other surprising benefits of a good night’s sleep include:

  • Stronger immune system: Studies have shown that individuals who consistently get enough sleep are less likely to catch common illnesses such as colds and flu, as sleep supports the production of immune-boosting cytokines.
  • Improved physical performance: Whether you’re an athlete or just enjoy staying active, sleep plays a vital role in physical performance. It enhances muscle recovery, coordination, and reaction times, allowing you to perform at your peak during workouts or sports activities. (Exercise is also key for your immunity and general wellness — learn more in our self-care guide to exercise!)
  • Enhanced metabolism and weight management: Surprisingly, sleep can impact your waistline. Poor sleep habits have been linked to weight gain and obesity, as sleep deprivation disrupts hunger hormones, leading to increased appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods. Conversely, getting enough sleep supports a healthy metabolism and may aid in weight management efforts. A good night’s sleep pairs well with our delicious recipes for healthy weight loss and weight maintenance!

We all know the basics, often-repeated tips on sleep, such as no caffeine in the afternoon. But if those aren’t working for you, or if you want additional creative ideas to support a good night’s sleep, it’s time to think outside the box spring.

Unusual Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

1. Aromatherapy with Lavender Socks

Before bedtime, fill a pair of clean socks with dried lavender flowers and tie them securely. Place these lavender-infused socks on your feet while you sleep. The soothing scent of lavender can promote relaxation and help you drift off into a peaceful slumber. One study reported that lavender essential oils have “sedative or hypnotic properties [that] are promising as a sleep therapy.” The researchers went on to note: “Inhaled, their chemical constituents enter the circulatory system through the lungs and the neurochemical pathway via the limbic system.”

Does aromatherapy work for you and help you feel relaxed? Take it a step further with herbal sachets. Craft your own herbal sleep sachets using dried herbs such as chamomile, valerian root, and lemon balm. Place these sachets under your pillow or beside your bed to enjoy the soothing aromas and natural sleep-inducing properties of these herbs.

2. Temperature-Controlled Pillow

Experiment with a temperature-controlled pillow that adjusts throughout the night. These innovative pillows use cooling gel or technology to maintain a comfortable temperature, reducing the likelihood of waking up due to overheating or feeling too cold.

“One 2012 study found that the temperature of the room where you sleep is one of the most important factors in achieving quality sleep,” reports the doctors at Healthline. “Keeping your sleeping quarters at a temperature near 65°F (18.3°C), give or take a few degrees, is ideal. Your body’s temperature decreases during sleep, and a cool, but not cold, room will help you settle into and maintain sleep throughout the night.”

3. Sleep Journal Doodles and Podcasts

Keep a bedside sleep journal, but instead of writing down your thoughts, express them through doodles or sketches. This creative outlet helps to clear your mind and release any pent-up stress or worries, facilitating a smoother transition into sleep.

Speaking of clearing your mind: tune into bedtime story podcasts or audiobooks with calming narrations and soothing background music. Listening to a gentle, bedtime story can evoke feelings of nostalgia and comfort, lulling you into a state of relaxation conducive to sleep.

4. Weighted Blanket Fort

Create a cozy fort using a weighted blanket draped over your bed or sofa.

The gentle pressure of the weighted blanket mimics the sensation of being hugged or swaddled, promoting feelings of security and relaxation, leading to deeper, more restful sleep.

These unconventional tips offer creative ways to enhance your sleep quality, create a more tranquil bedtime environment, and support a good night’s sleep.

Experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you and see the difference it makes in your evening (and the next morning!).

References:

  • https://www.thensf.org/sleep-awareness-week/
  • https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics
  • https://sleep.hms.harvard.edu/education-training/public-education/sleep-and-health-education-program/sleep-health-education-41
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2692603/
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep/best-temperature-to-sleep