Ever since I was young, my father always told me that I needed my beauty sleep—either he would tell me that if I didn’t I would look like him and that was not beautiful or he would tell me that I would never look as beautiful as him. Either way he said it, I learned my lesson. Of course, if you talk to my mother she would say I still don’t have this whole sleeping thing down, but to each their own and everyone’s sleep cycles are different. Some people sleep lightly, some as heavily as the dead. Some sleep in short stints and others need much more time in bed. So what’s healthy?
The first point of interest is finding the right mattress and pillow(s) for you. Every body is different and needs a different kind of support. If you aren’t sure what is both good for your body and something you like, then I suggest going to a mattress store and asking for help. Not only are the staff knowledgeable, but they might suggest you try out a mattress you never would have thought to try before. As I have personally done this, I can assure you that it’s helpful to get an opinion from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.
Next is a bedtime ritual. You may laugh and say that your bedtime ritual is to flop face first into the pillow whenever you’re tired, but this can actually be a very influential device: daily grooming—for women, taking off your makeup, brushing your hair, etc. may be the right routine for you. Many people read just before bed or watch TV. This is actually a don’t, as these sorts of activities can inspire you to stay up just a little bit longer—only one more chapter or one more episode. Instead, designate a set amount of time to read or watch TV in the evening and then follow up that activity with your nighttime routine. Even some relaxing stretching or yoga is a great pre-sleeping activity.
Third is environment. Lights, sounds (or lack thereof), and temperature can all affect your sleeping patterns. If it’s too hot or too cold it will take you longer to fall asleep. If there’s too much light then you may be woken up—likewise with sounds that are unusual or infrequent. A controlled environment will help you get the best rest for your body: a night-light (ambient light) or no lights is considered “the best”; for noise either ear plugs, a white noise maker or a fan are all good options.
Something to keep in mind is that if you have onsets of insomnia, like I know I do, then you might need to get out of bed and go to a different room to find a “winding down” activity like reading that will help you to become tired and eventually fall asleep.
How much sleep should you have? We’ve all heard those numbers. 7 hours but not a wink more or less. 9 hours—anything over 9 will be too much. The truth is that there is no number there that’s more correct than the others. It all depends upon how you feel and what your lifestyle is like. The more exercise you get, for instance, the more likely you are to sleep through the night. So how do you know? When does it feel good to wake up? That’s your number. If you wish to lessen that number, there are ways such as setting a specific bed time and wake up time. Sleep is one of the most important functions of our body, so pay attention to how much you’re getting and when you’re getting it in order to stay healthy.