As today is World Sleep Day 2020, I wanted to put together a post in which I could share 5 ways to improve your sleep. These are a few of the improvements I have made recently to help improve the quality of my own sleep. You all know that sleep is something I have struggled with over the past few years since having children. They still don’t sleep through the night every night, but at least it is now a regular occurrence. I can’t tell you how much this has changed my life.
Now that I am able to sleep through the night occasionally, I have decided it is time to make further improvements in my bedroom in an attempt to get closer to creating my ideal sleep sanctuary. And I would love to share with you the five ways to improve your sleep that I myself have implemented over the past 18 months to get closer to that goal.
Invest in a Comfortable Mattress
The first of my ways to improve your sleep involves investing some money in a new, good quality mattress.
Back at the end of 2018, I collaborated with Otty who kindly gifted me a new mattress to review. I liked the idea that it is a hybrid mattress so it combines the support of pocket springs with the comfort of memory foam. This seemed like the best of both worlds to me.
The mattress is a little firmer than our previous memory foam mattress but this is due to the 1710 encapsulated pocket springs that can be found in the double mattress. These springs are up to five times the size of some of the other brands of mattress on the market. This means that they provide a lot of extra support and stability and make the mattress a bit firmer.
I was worried at first that it might be a little too firm for me but it has been an absolute joy to sleep on for the past year and a half. In fact, since we’ve had it, I tend to hang out in our bedroom of an evening instead of in the living room. This actually encourages me to wind down a little better and go to bed earlier.
I’m definitely a night owl and I’ve always tended to stay up super late into the early hours, which was fine before I had kids, but now I just can’t function properly if I stay up until 2 am and have to get up at 6 am. But now I hang out in my bedroom from 9 pm onwards, I tend to go to sleep a lot earlier, almost always before midnight. So getting a new, comfy mattress has had a really good impact on the quality of sleep that I get but also encouraged me to get more sleep.
Buy Good Quality Pillows
Along with buying a new mattress, another of my recommended ways to improve your sleep is to get some good quality pillows to go with it.
We didn’t just get a new mattress from Otty, we also got some new memory foam pillows. At the time, we were warned by Otty that they are a little bit marmite, as in some customers love them but they are not right for everyone. Once we had used them, I could totally see how there might be a bit of a mixed response to them.
I am a side sleeper most of the time, so these pillows are an absolute godsend. They are quite tall so they offer great support for the neck when sleeping on your side. I’ve actually never slept on more comfortable pillows when side-sleeping. Even when sleeping in my back, these pillows are super comfortable. Your head sinks into the memory foam, which is super supportive and really cradles your weight.
However, I will say that if you are a front sleeper, these pillows are definitely not for you. They are far too tall to be comfortable when sleeping on your tummy. I tend to move around quite a lot at night and go from side sleeping to back sleeping to front sleeping in cycles. So I have two pillows on the bed. I start off using my Otty and fall asleep on my side. If at any point in the night I want to sleep on my tummy, I simply grab my regular pillow which is a lot flatter and use that instead.
Choose your bedding wisely
Once you have the foundations of your bed sorted, another of my recommended ways to improve your sleep is to add good quality bedding to the mix.
As we all know, duvets come in various sizes and weights and it is important to choose yours wisely. Generally speaking, the higher the togg rating, the better a duvet traps heat. As a good rule of thumb, 4 togg is great for summer, 9 togg is ideal for spring or autumn and 13 togg is well suited to winter.
Being too cold or too warm at night will impact on the quality of sleep that you are able to get. I’m typically a cold person so I like to be toasty warm at night otherwise I keep waking up. So I rarely opt for a duvet below 10 togg, even in Summer, unless it’s a particularly warm one.
Other than being too cold at night, one of my biggest bugbears is when the duvet moves around inside the cover and leaves baggy empty areas of cover near to my face. I absolutely can’t stand this and I will not go to bed until I have repositioned the duvet inside the cover to avoid this. My husband thinks that I totally overreact as this does not bother him in the slightest, but for me it’s a huge issue that will prevent me from sleeping.
I can’t believe I am the only one who gets annoyed by this and I have never understood why nobody has tackled this issue successfully. But I think that there is finally a solution. Did you know that you can now get duvets that do not require a cover? Yes, that’s right. You can buy a duvet that is coloured and slightly patterned so that it looks great without a cover. For me, this is game-changing. No need to wrestle a duvet into a cover, which is particularly troublesome for me being only 5 ft 2. It’s a job I hate doing.
When I discovered this was a thing, I reached out to The Fine Bedding Company to see if they would send me one of their Night Owl duvets to test. I was a little concerned that it might just look like a duvet without a cover, but luckily they offer a variety of lovely colours and some of them also have contrasting piping which is a nice touch.
I opted for a 10.5 togg double duvet in dusk pink which is a perfect colour for my bedroom. Some of the Night Owl duvets also come with matching pillowcases. Sadly, the dusk pink version doesn’t but I believe you can buy them separately, which I will do once they come back in stock. The dusk pink one did come packed in a lovely duffle bag though which is great for storage and transporting it if necessary.
We’ve been sleeping with our Night Owl coverless duvet for just over a week now and I’m really impressed. It’s super soft and very pretty, but best of all, no flapping duvet cover. When I’ve told people about the Night Owl duvet, their initial response has been to ask how you keep it clean. But it’s simple, you just pop the whole thing in the washing machine and it dries within 90 minutes. That’s a huge bonus in my mind as it means you’re far more likely to wash your duvet regularly and not just the cover.
I’m probably going to invest in a couple of single duvets for the girls as well as I’ve been so impressed with our coverless duvet so far.
Sleep Under a Weighted Blanket
This tip is new for me as I’ve only just discovered how much it helps, but one of the best ways to improve your sleep is to try out a weighted blanket.
I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews about weighted blankets. Some people swear by them and others can’t stand them. They are supposed to aid a restful nights sleep and medical research has shown that sleeping under weight helps us fall asleep faster, sleep for longer and sleep more deeply.
Apparently, the weight stimulates the production of serotonin (the happiness hormone), reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases melatonin (the sleep hormone) for better sleep and improved mood.
I liked the sound of this, but I’d heard from others that it can be quite claustrophobic and you may feel like you’re being a bit crushed since it’s recommended that the weight of the blanket is up to 10% of your body weight.
I wanted to make my own mind up so decided to see if I could test one out. My initial search online threw up lots of options, but the majority weren’t particularly attractive. There were plenty of grey ones, but given what I know now about the psychological effects of grey and how it can drain your energy over time, I wasn’t particularly excited by that idea.
I did discover Remy Sleep though who have a beautiful navy blue weighted blanket. What I like about this one is not only the colour, which again is perfect for our bedroom, but also the quality and the thought that has gone into the design.
The Queen Weighted Blanket from Remy Sleep includes a premium micro-plush duvet cover and an inner weighted layer containing high-grade glass beads. There are many weighted blankets on the market that use high-grade glass beads, but what sets this one apart is that the cover and the blanket are held together by a unique and easy to use 360° zipper system. So the cover can be removed for washing, but there is no chance of the inner blanket slipping inside the cover and leaving the baggy flappy bit. The beads are also sewn into little squares so that they don’t all collect at the bottom of the blanket.
The version I requested weighs 10kgs (which is more than 10% of my body weight but is the recommended weight for me according to the website) and I can tell you now it is super heavy. Making the bed with this on it is a proper workout. It’s not easy to manoeuvre for someone as small as me.
However, sleeping under it is a revelation. The first night I was a bit apprehensive that I might feel a bit crushed or would be unable to move. But I went to sleep and woke up the next morning after one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in long, long time. I did actually wake up in exactly the same position I had fallen asleep in so I assume I didn’t move.
Over the past week, I’ve had many more good quality sleeps, the only time I don’t is when the girls wake up in the night and I have to get up to put them back to bed. I’ve become a huge fan of our Remy Sleep weighted blanket now and my only concern is whether I’ll be able to sleep well without it. At 10kgs it’s not like you can take it on holiday with you. You’d have to book the blanket its own suitcase and it would be pretty cumbersome to transport.
But I’m willing to take the risk of becoming dependent on it because the quality of sleep is so much better.
Invest in a Wake-up Light Alarm Clock
Buying a wake-up light alarm clock concludes this post on ways to improve your sleep.
At about the same time that we got our new mattress and pillows, I was sent a Lumie Body Clock for review. After the amazing results we’d had with our SAD Lamp I was super keen to try one of these alarm clocks out. But as the kids weren’t sleeping properly yet, I wasn’t able to properly test it out.
The idea is that the alarm clock wakes you up by mimicking the sunrise. A slowly brightening light gently rouses you from sleep by prompting your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin, whilst increasing the levels of hormones like cortisol that help you to wake up feeling more energised.
The alarm clock also works in reverse at bedtime, when a light that mimics a gently fading sunset slowly prepares your body for restful sleep in a low blue-light environment. The Lumie Body Clock Shine 300 also has a choice of 14 sleep/wake sounds that help to ease the mind and create a state of relaxation and contentment. It also has an FM radio; daily/weekly alarms; a nightlight; a light-sensitive auto-dimming display and tap-control snooze functionality.
The issue we had in doing the review, was that no matter what time we set the alarm for, the girls always woke us up first. So we never got to properly experience the effects of waking up naturally with the light. I don’t like to review items that I’ve not properly tested so we had to hold off.
Fast-forward 18 months and we are now in a position to use the Lumie Body Clock as it was intended and not just as a digital clock. These days I am so programmed to wake up at 6 am on the dot, that it is virtually impossible to have a lie-in, even when I’m away from the kids. They often don’t wake up until gone 7 am now so that gives me ample time to wake up slowly with the light before they come bounding in full of beans.
Waking up slowly with the light is a much nicer process, particularly when you are so used to be awoken by a child shouting in your face or jumping on you. I’m still not terribly good at bedtime though and I’m still guilty of using my phone in bed. I’m going to set myself the challenge of leaving my phone in another room after 10pm and reading a book instead before the gentle sunset lulls me off to sleep. I’ll report back on how that goes.
So those are my 5 ways to improve your sleep. Have you tried any of them? Did you know you could get coverless duvets? Have you ever tried a weighted blanket? I’d love to hear your thoughts so do leave me a comment below.