Sleep

Here are 3 subtle ways to improve your sleep quality

Here are 3 subtle ways to improve your sleep quality

We know the basics of a good night’s sleep: get seven to nine hours (whichever works best for you), skip screen time before bed, have a soothing nighttime routine, wake up regularly to the same hour if you regularly have trouble falling asleep.

But there are also subtleties of a good night’s sleep that can be useful to know. Small details about positioning, room conditions and our nighttime routines that can improve the quality of our nights and, in turn, our days.

Narwan Amini writes about sleep and bedding for Everynight.com. She has some really helpful and interesting advice in that department.

Here they are in three main categories:

Take care of your position

Amini says the ideal sleeping position is (drum roll please…) on our sides.

Lying on your side provides the best alignment and support for our spine, she says. It is more significant than it seems. It not only minimizes pain (especially in the neck and back), but it also helps our various internal systems to function optimally.

For example, Amini says sleeping on your side helps “eliminate intestinal waste faster than other positions.” It’s an anecdotal claim, but it certainly sounds good and it seems plausible that proper alignment can help things flow more smoothly.

For ideal side alignment, she recommends hugging a pillow and placing one between your knees. A body pillow can be helpful.

“We also suggest not placing your shoulders on your (head) pillow to minimize the distance between your neck and the mattress. This reduces the chances of neck pain in the morning,” she adds.

As for bedding, she recommends a medium to soft mattress that doesn’t put too much pressure on our hips and shoulders.

For non-side sleepers, it is possible to make your position of choice more supportive and aligned.

Amini says back sleepers can put a pillow under their knees. Stomach sleepers can try a pillow under their hips.

I used to sleep on my stomach until my neck informed me that those days were over. Unfortunately, Amini says lying on your stomach is the worst position. This can lead to muscle tension, stiffness and pain. This was the case for me.

The subtleties of a good night’s sleep that can be useful to know and improve the quality of sleep. Video: Marci Sharif

Set the environment right

In a nutshell: keep your room dark, quiet, tidy, minimal and cool.

Some people say that having one foot uncovered (coming out of the covers) can promote healthier sleep. It has to do with the fact that the feet are part of the body’s temperature regulation system. But Amini admits it’s a hack and won’t work for everyone.

She says, “If a person can’t relax with a foot sticking out of their blanket, they may want to try a small fan or other cooling measures for better sleep.”

The ideal bedroom temperature is generally thought to be in the sixties. In all the articles I’ve read about it, around 67 degrees Fahrenheit, plus or minus a few degrees, seems to be about the best temperature.

A room that promotes silence and stillness is also important.

This means the room is dark (regulating our internal clocks), quiet (which can be aided by a little white noise if that helps) and intentionally appointed (it’s picked up, furnishings and decor are minimal, and colors are calm. and soothing). It also means TVs may not be suitable for bedrooms. The main idea is to minimize distractions and noise – in all its forms.

Architect a routine

A good nighttime routine will be slightly different for everyone. Again, Amini says the most important thing is to avoid television and electronic stimulation for at least an hour or so before bed.

“Instead, it’s good to relax with a simple activity like a familiar book, simple stretches, or a warm shower or bath,” she says.

If you tend to have trouble falling or staying asleep, adopting a simple routine of these restful activities can push your body into sleep mode. This regimen could even include basic nighttime hygiene. For example, you can brush your teeth, comb your hair, etc., then go to bed and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down, read a book (not too stimulating), whatever relaxes you.

I’m a fan of including hot water somewhere in my ritual. If it’s not a shower or a bath, I briefly immerse my feet in lukewarm water. It’s surprisingly calming.

A bedtime routine is helpful because it can also be repeated when we wake up and can’t go back to sleep.

Other good tools for these times include getting under a weighted blanket, doing some relaxing breath work, and not freaking out about our impending exhaustion coming the next day. It’s easier said than done, but any level of panic only pushes sleep further. We have all been there. Relaxation is the most important part of the routine.

Marci Izard Sharif is an author, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator and mother. In Feeling Matters, she writes about self-love, sharing self-care tools, stories, and resources for getting to know yourself and being kind to yourself.