How can we promote a healthy sleep schedule and why is it important?
We all know that getting a good kip is essential for our overall functioning but what can we do to improve the quality of our sleep schedule and, in turn, improve the quality of our mental and physical well-being?
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
Sleep duration is, of course, a very important element when thinking about how much sleep you need, but it’s not the full picture. The NHS recommends the average adult to get between 6 and 9 hours of sleep a night. It is also important that you maintain a regular sleeping pattern, including what time of night you go to sleep and when you wake up each day. As well as considering what time you hit the hay each evening, there are ways we can make sure that we are getting enough of each stage of the sleeping cycle and an overall high quality rest.
A Healthy Sleep Routine
Getting to bed on time isn’t always as straight forward as it sounds, we know. But there are small tweaks you could make to your routine to aid that wind down to come quicker. Planning your evening routine to ensure you are away from electronic devices at least an hour before bed has proven to reduce the time it takes for you to drift off. Why not turn the television off, get a little fresh air or have a read to wind down this week? You'll be sure to feel the benefits of ditching the devices in the evening. By taking a break from the blue screens, we allow our eyes to adjust to a less stimulating light.
Incorporate some time into your evening to light your favourite candles, a little incense or open up one of our Spa Stones or Lavender & Chamomile Sleep Stones jars to help promote a gentle wind down.
Let’s explore the sleep cycle in more depth because knowledge is power!
The Sleep Cycle
Non- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM) is the first phase of the sleep cycle and is broken into three separate stages;
Feeling drowsy - Your body begins to relax but you can be easily stirred. If you are uninterrupted, typically you will fall into a light sleep quickly.
A light sleep which you can be easily woken from. This makes up around half of your total time asleep. Your heart rate slows, you experience slower breathing and a drop in body temperature.
Deep Sleep - Your breathing slows further, heart rate decreases and you will be harder to wake. This stage is considered essential by scientists to restore brain and body function, allow growth and improve immune system functioning. There are also studies that demonstrate this stage of sleep contributes to our creativity, memory and insight.
The second phase of the sleep cycle is Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM); this is where you tend to have your most vivid dreams. Your brain activity increases to similar levels as when you are awake and your body enters a temporary paralysis of all muscles, except the eyes and the muscles used for breathing. This phase of the Sleep Cycle is considered essential for learning, memory and overall cognitive functioning.
Typically, you experience each phase of the cycle four to five times during your sleeping period and each stage helps us towards having a fully restorative rest.
So what can we do to ensure we are getting enough of each phase each night?
Improving Our Environment
Now we know the ins and outs of our sleep schedule, we can work on ways to improve the quality of each phase. The best place to start is the bedroom, of course. Our environment is incredibly impactful on our overall well being, so how can we utilise our space to promote a positively restful sleep?
Light conditions in our sleep space and the type of lighting we access before bed can impact our ability to drift off.
By using soft lighting and low levels of light in the bedroom, we can encourage relaxation of our eye muscles as well as decreasing the levels of stimulus which may wake us once we do drift off. Why not try our scented tea light holders in your bedroom; soft candlelight will help to relax you and the scent of our Black Iris Fragranced Tealight Holders provide a soothing blend of aromas to compliment your calming space.
Try black out curtains if you find street lights disturbing you through your window. Even small levels of light, such as a digital clock radio, can stir us so be sure to check for all sources of light in your bedroom if you are still having issues getting a decent rest.
We typically fall asleep in the evening because everywhere is quieter. There are less sounds of movement, nearby traffic, talking, etc. Our bodies interpret the lack of sound and stimulus as a cue to relax and rest. So, naturally, if we are disturbed by sounds, our bodies take the opposite cue; it wants to wake up.
Try minimising the noise coming into your bedroom. Loud disturbances can negatively impact our sleep quality so it is important to strive for a quiet and peaceful sleep environment.
For some, however, this isn’t always possible. And as the weather gets warmer, we want our windows open and the fresh air circulating. But with that comes the sound of your neighbors, local traffic and passers by. Try a white noise machine or ambient music to block out unwanted noise; this can also alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress.
By far the most impactful and (in our opinion) important human function we can utilise to enhance our mood and promote a calm space to rest in is our sense of smell. The power of the human nose and our association with certain scents can be extremely beneficial when trying to improve our sleep quality.
The National Sleep Foundation Bedroom Poll 2012 found that individuals were most excited to get to bed and reported a more comfortable rest when they had freshly washed bedding. But we can’t change our bedding every day, can we? It is most beneficial for sleepers to change their sheets every two weeks, so why not bring that smell of fresh linen into your room every evening with our Emotif Fresh Linen Diffuser.
Other scents commonly used to promote relaxation are chamomile and lavender. With many aromatherapy benefits, lavender is used to alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. Chamomile's soothing properties encourage calm. Our Lavender & Chamomile Sleep Stones are a perfect accompaniment to your bedroom. Pop them on your bedside table and open the lid an hour or so before bed. The delicate aromas from our Lavender & Chamomile essential oils will fill your bedroom and promote a relaxing space for you to drift off peacefully.
Less commonly known scents which can be used to promote rest include cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, ylang-ylang and rose. Our collection of home fragrances and aromatherapy stones provide a range of soothing scents to help you catch the best quality zzz's. Our Emotif Diffuser Perfect Rose releases delicate floral aromas and, just like all our diffuser collection, it can be topped up with our range of Concentrated Diffuser Oils.
To browse our full range of aromatherapy products to promote calm in your home, visit our website.