The Wall Street Journal published a very interesting article yesterday (article link below) about the importance of sleep and how the lack of sleep leads to reduced productivity at work, costing American businesses billions of dollars (It is The Wall Street Journal...). The Harvard study the article is based on actually estimates the loss to be $63.2 billion, which says a lot about the value of a good night's rest.
So, what can be done besides going to work late... which I don't recommend. There are a few simple steps one can take in order to improve the quality of your sleep--I've listed them below.
Get a new mattress
Elephant in the room: Soaring Heart is a mattress company and I just told you to get a new mattress. "Aha, here's the pitch," you are likely saying. And yeah, well, sorta, but in this case, it’s personal. Before I started sleeping on my current mattress (The Madrona, if you're curious) I woke up every morning sore and feeling unrested. Full disclosure, I have sleep problems, not all of which can be addressed by a new mattress, but switching made a huge difference. For the first time in years I woke up feeling rested and didn't have pain. Falling asleep is still something of a work in progress for me, but staying asleep and feeling good in the morning is no longer something I need to worry about and that is because of my mattress.
How old is your mattress? Most mattresses were not designed with longevity in mind. They are meant to last about 10 years. If your mattress is nearing that mark, you might want to think about a new one. Here is a simple test, if your mattress has a sag, you wake up sore in the morning, or you prefer sleeping on other mattresses (friends’, hotels’, etc.) than it is probably time. Of course, I recommend our own organic mattresses, which last 20 years!.
Desk lights, computers, televisions, tablets, smart phones, MP3 players all add up to one thing: staying awake. The very first thing you should do to start getting a better night's rest is to turn them all off. Sleeping with the TV on or with your tablet right next to your bed makes it harder to fall asleep and more difficult to stay that way. Trust me, it will all be there in the morning, folks; that new picture of a kitten your friend just shared can wait.
Coffee and alcohol
That triple low-fat mocha at 5pm... let's make it a decaf. Caffeinated beverages are delicious - but they can also make it difficult to sleep. If you love coffee, than drink coffee, just make sure that in the afternoon you switch from caf to decaf. How about a nightcap? Alcohol before bed may help you fall asleep faster, but it actually disrupts your sleep, making you feel less rested the next morning.
How old is your pillow?
Another reason you may wake up sore, wake up early, or have hard time falling asleep, is because your pillow is old and uncomfortable. Pillows serve a very important function: they keep your head and back aligned, which keeps your spine straight. It is important to match your pillow with the way you sleep. For example, if you like to sleep on your side, you want a thick lofty pillow, but if you sleep on your back, you want a thinner pillow. We have a whole page on our site dedicated to finding the perfect pillow--it's that important! Personally, I think our natural and organic pillows are pretty special.
Exercise is a great way to help regulate your body. Exercise in the morning or afternoon can lead to deeper sleep. Just make sure you don't exercise before going to bed, that will have the opposite effect.