WEEK 2: EXPERIENCE THE BEST. BEDTIME. EVER.
FINALIZE YOUR NEW SLEEP SCHEDULE
I no longer play on my phone for hours before bed. I try to get into bed and just relax before I fall sleep. I sleep much better because of it. – Lindsey S., Glen Allen, VA*
Now that you’ve had a week to practice, it’s time to get serious. Take the sleep schedule you created last week. Do your best to stick to your schedule every single day this week and for the remaining days of this 30-day challenge—including the weekends.
The goal of your new schedule is consistency, not perfection. You have a half hour of wiggle room on either side of the sleep session. But try to do everything in your power to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. See how many days you can string together.
Planning ahead can work wonders. Look at your calendar and identify days or nights that are going to be problematic.
Are there tasks—like meal preparation—that you can group together on a weekend afternoon to free up more time during the week? (Behold the magic of the slow cooker!)
If you’re scheduled to meet a friend for drinks, can you switch it to a coffee date?
Now is a great time to check in with your Sleep Champion. Talk to them about the ripple effects of sticking to the plan. Then brainstorm ways to clear obstacles. And if you’re someone else’s Sleep Champion, support that person as they work on forming this beneficial new habit.
CREATE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Sleep30 helped me create guidelines for better sleeping habits. — Chuck M., Shawnee, OK***
In some ways creating a fun, sustainable bedtime routine is as important as your sleep schedule. This nightly routine prepares your body for sleep and also signals to your mind that sleep is coming soon. If you create a routine that’s right for you, then it will not only be effective, but also be something you look forward to.
DEDICATE 20 MINUTES TO 1 HOUR
The amount of time isn’t as important as the mentality. This time is your time and your family’s time to unwind. No chores. No work. Give yourself permission to close the book. There’s always tomorrow. Don’t feel guilty about this important wind-down time.
JOURNAL ABOUT YOUR DAY AND WRITE A TO-DO LIST
Research shows the simple act of writing down your thoughts can help create a sense of peace. If you tend to replay the day’s stressful moments in your head, write them down in your sleep journal. If you have a habit of churning over things you need to do tomorrow, make a to-do list to help clear your mind.
SWITCH YOUR SCREENS TO NIGHT MODE OR WEAR BLUE-LIGHT-BLOCKING GLASSES
The bright screens on your smart phone and TV trick you into thinking it’s still daytime. But if you can avoid screens or switch your phone to night mode in the evening, then you’ll be better prepared to fall asleep.
TAKE A WARM SHOWER
Before we fall asleep our bodies naturally dump heat to help lower our internal temperature, which can help welcome sleepiness as part of the sleep cycle. A warm (not hot) shower before bed can help speed up this cooling process.
81% of Sleep Number® SleepIQ® sleepers tell us they tend to sleep hot or cold, with 58% of those saying their temperature fluctuates through the night.* If this sounds like you consider a DualTemp layer and/or temperature balancing bedding which might help.
READ A BOOK — PURELY FOR FUN
There’s a reason we read to our kids before bedtime. Research shows reading for enjoyment helps the mind relax on a deep level. The key here is to read something that’s purely for fun. If you’re reading something for work then you’re going to agitate your mind, not relax it.
DIM THE LIGHTS
One hour before bedtime start dimming the lights around you to signal to your body that darkness/sleepy-time is drawing near.
DO YOGA OR GENTLE STRETCHING
Cat-cow pose, child’s pose and corpse pose are all low-impact yoga poses that will help prepare your body for rest.
TRY MEDITATION, BREATHING EXERCISES AND/OR AROMATHERAPY
Essential oils of peppermint, lavender and vetiver are all soothing scents that calm the mind.
LISTEN TO SOOTHING MUSIC
According to the British Academy of Sound Therapy, a song called “Weightless” by Marconi Union is the most relaxing song ever recorded. Give it a try!
MAKE YOUR BED TOMORROW MORNING
73% of Sleep Number® SleepIQ® sleepers make their bed every day. Compared to those who don’t make their bed, this group wakes up 20 minutes earlier but are MORE restful and end up getting four more minutes of restful sleep.** Four minutes multiplied by all the nights could give you much more quality shuteye.
GET THE RIGHT KIND OF LIGHT EXPOSURE- A SIMPLE PLAN FOR BETTER LIGHT
Before electric lights, human beings were more in sync with the natural rhythms of the sun. We worked when it was light and slept when it was dark. Today, we can work whenever and sleep whenever. For most of us—and especially those in northern climates—we may spend most of our waking day inside under artificial light. Meanwhile our devices have us in a constant state of what we call “lightedness.”
Ideally, you’d get a face full of sunlight first thing in the morning, plus exposure to the sun multiple times during the day. At night you’d be done with screens 1–2 hours before bed and sleep in a completely dark bedroom.
But that kind of relationship with light is rare. The best we can do is to maximize the natural light we get and mitigate the times when we get too much artificial light. The key is to be intentional about your light exposure, especially first thing in the morning and before bed.
When you get up in the morning take 15–20 minutes to expose yourself to full sun. Have that first cup of coffee while standing at the window. Or, if you’re willing to purchase a sleep therapy wake-up light, then you can spend time in good artificial light.
Take part of your lunch break outside for more light exposure. Take a walk for an extra exercise boost. Make your next meeting a walking meeting.
Switch your electronic devices to night mode or wear blue-light-blocking glasses to filter out the bad light. See how early in the evening you can get yourself into low, non-blue light.
If you get up in the middle of the night, don’t turn on any lights—it will scare away any melatonin your body is producing. Instead, equip the bedroom, hallways and bathrooms with low intensity, non-blue nightlights that safely light the floors.
6 BEDTIME ACTIVITIES TO AVOID
I got much better at sticking to a schedule. Got better (but not perfect) at ending screen time before bed, and improved the sleeping temperature in my room. — Leslie H., Bentonville, AR.
We’ve shared what to do for better quality sleep; now, here are six big sleep enemies to avoid.
Strenuous exercise right before bed raises your heart rate and internal body temperature and frustrates sleep. Finish your cardio three hours before bedtime to get the upside of exercise without wrecking your sleep quality.
Drinking a soothing cup of chamomile tea right before bed sounds like a good idea, but you want to be careful not to give your body a reason to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. If you’re going to incorporate tea as part of your bedtime routine, drink your last cup one hour before bedtime. Or, if you don’t want to drink it, simply hold a warm beverage in your hands. It’ll have a similar effect to taking a warm shower, triggering your body to start dumping heat.
Eating a big meal before bed makes your body stay up digesting food. It may also lead to heartburn or acid reflux, which are common enemies of sleep. If you’re used to eating a late dinner we recommend shifting it earlier, with goal of finishing 2–3 hours before bedtime. We’ll share some bedtime snack recommendations in Week 3.
A glass of wine or beer or a cocktail around dinner is fine, but alcohol right before bed is a bad idea. Even if you don’t wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll get junk sleep and won’t wake up feeling as rested as you could. Moderation is always important!
Tylenol P.M., melatonin supplements and other over-the-counter sleep aids may provide short-term solutions, but they interfere with your body’s natural rhythms. If over-the-counter sleep aids are a part of your daily sleep routine, consider weaning yourself off them this week.
Disclaimer: If you’re taking any prescription or doctor-ordered supplements, check with your doctor before making any changes.
A racing mind is one of the top reasons people have trouble falling or staying asleep. This is why your bedtime wind-down routine is so important. Don’t work right up until bedtime or your brain will still be churning with thoughts, preventing you from falling asleep or staying calm throughout the night. READ MORE ABOUT MENTAL STRESS IN WEEK 4 TRACK.
*Based on self-reported survey data (from a Sleep Number study) among SleepIQ® sleepers.
**Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/1/19 to 1/31/19 and self-reported survey data (from a Sleep Number study) among SleepIQ® sleepers.
***Participant received InnerCircle loyalty points for doing challenge.