Are you struggling to get a goodnight’s sleep? The epidemic of sleep deficiency has increased in conjunction with sitting and the increased usage of electronic devices. According to a 2011 study by the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of Americans say they do not sleep enough during the week. About 15 percent of adults between 19 and 64 say they sleep less than six hours on weeknights. Ninety-five percent use some type of electronic device like a television, computer, video game or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed. 

Although many can agree sufficient sleep at night contributes to better performance, awareness, mood, ability to handle stress, skin quality,  sports performance, and the capacity to learn new things, a vast majority of people still struggle with this crucial pillar for well-being. And despite following advice to naturally promote proper rest, many still turn to prescription sleeping pills—a $1.6 billion industry in the United States alone that doesn’t come without side effects. 

Luckily, you’ll be surprised to know that there are many little-known factors that may impede on sleep quality.

5 Methods for a Goodnight’s Sleep 

Here are five proven methods backed by research that can be tested before trying sleeping pills, as sleeping pills often surpass natural mechanisms in the body and may cause more harm than good in the long term. 

1 – BED QUALITY AND ERGONOMICS

The foundational issue behind your inability to get a goodnight’s rest may be as simple as bad bedding; and it goes beyond comfort! Bed materials made from poor material that do not breathe may induce allergies, and beds which are unergonomic may disturb your sleep. Instead, try:

  • A mattress made of organic cotton, wool, hemp or natural rubber (instead of being covered with polyurethane foam and chemicals that are toxic and potentially allergenic).
  • Organic shredded rubber or other organic hypo-allergenic materials for pillows.
  • Choosing materials for your sheets and blankets that promote better thermo-regulation.
  • Sleeping without clothes (so that the rubber bands on the waist cannot block your lymphatic system).
  • Sleeping with a pillow that support your sleeping style and your body type.
  • Having a pillow between your legs (when sleeping on your side) to decrease pressure on the low back and hips.
  • Sleeping on your back or right side. Other positions can put stress on your internal organs. If you suffer from heartburn, sleeping on the left side or on your back is a better option.
  • Use a heavy comforter and bed sheets if you have a tendency to change positions frequently during the night.
  • Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended to anybody (except to those suffering from spinal disc herniation).
  • Sleeping on your back is not recommended if you suffer from sleep apnea due to the risk of respiratory arrest.

2 – ELECTROMAGNETIC POLLUTION (EMFs)

Are you one to sleep with your phone on the night table? How about working with your laptop in bed? Unbeknownst to many, the cause of their sleepless nights may be attributed to electromagnetic radiation. Dozens of studies have been conducted on electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), and with the growing popularity of smartphones, tablets and other devices being used more intimately (especially with the uprising of 5G and other sources of powerful EMFs) it is important to understand how these frequencies may be affecting your ability to get restful sleep. 

Tips for reducing EMF pollution in the bedroom: 

  • Using a grounding mat underneath your mattress.
  • Placing WLAN routers and mobile phones at a distance, and switching mobile devices to airplane mode at night.
  • Walking barefooted during the day, or using grounding (earthing) shoes.
  • Scanning radiation levels in the bedroom (with EMF and EMC detectors) and removing any devices that are emitting high levels.

3 – AIR QUALITY AND TEMPERATURE

Research shows that poor indoor air quality (including chemicals, mycotoxins, dust and allergens) affects respiratory organs and can thereby cause sleeping problems. To avoid poor air quality, try the following: 

  • Excluding the possibility of mold (DIY measuring kits or measurements done by professionals).
  • The use of house plants to increase humidity, turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, and release negative ions into the air (for example, golden cane palm (Dypsis lutescens), snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) and devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureaum).
  • Ventilating the bedroom properly at night, but avoid a direct draft near the head.
  • Air filtering (UV, HEPA, carbon filtering, photocatalytic oxidation, air ionizer).
  • Adjusting humidity with technical tools. Most people prefer 30–50 % humidity.
  • Having a house that ventilates properly and choosing appropriate indoor materials that don’t give off harmful chemicals (natural construction methods, eco paints and finishing materials).

The temperature of the body can also affect quality of sleep. Sleeping in a room that is too hot, or too cold, makes it difficult to maintain optimal thermoregulation. Instead, try:

    • Adjusting radiators and air conditioning
    • Keeping windows open and ventilating the space properly
    • The optimal temperature for most people is around
      18–22 degrees Celsius (64–69 Fahrenheit)

4 – GET ENOUGH BLUE SPECTRUM LIGHT 

We often hear about reducing blue lights (from screens) in the evenings to promote better sleep. But did you know that getting enough blue spectrum light (short wavelength 450–490 nm) during the day, especially right after waking up, is an important factor in maintaining one’s alertness and circadian rhythm? Now before you run to your phone or tablet first thing upon waking up, it’s important to note that natural blue light is what is key here. Here are some ways to increase your blue light exposure: 

  • Spend time in sunlight
    – Take a minimum 15 minute walk daily
    – Set up your workstation next to the window
  • Avoid the use of sunglasses during the day that block blue spectrum light. It may start the production of melatonin at the wrong time.
  • Use a full spectrum light therapy lamp at home or in the office in the mornings.

5 – GO TO BED BY CHRONOTYPE

We’ve all heard that getting between 7-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal to maintain well-being. In addition, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day increases the quality of sleep and decreases health risks. However, the hours that are key to feeling sharp and rested may vary depending on the individual. 

A “chronotype, according to Dr. Michael Breus, refers to an individual’s master biological clock ticking away inside of their brain. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “I’m not a morning person”, well there’s a reason for that. Some people are meant to be more productive in the morning than at night, and vice versa. Believe it or not – your body has been programmed to function much better at certain times of the day than others, and therefore this affects the hours of which it is best for you to get your sleep. 

Learning your chronotype can be an essential part of ensuring you are in alignment with your ideal sleep schedule. 

There you have it—Five Little-Known Methods for a Goodnight’s Sleep which you can start implementing right away to optimize your sleep and your health!

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