Daylight Saving Time Begins March 11th

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week and Daylight Saving Time is this Sunday March 11th, so I figured now more than ever I should recap some of the most important sleep tips so that you can learn how to get quality sleep.  Especially since we’ll be losing an hour of precious sleep this Sunday, getting enough shut eye will be an issue for all of us.

Let’s start with the basics.  A dark, cool and quiet bedroom is the perfect environment that will promote quality sleep.  The darker the room, the better; room darkening shades can help you achieve optimal darkness.  And if you’re on the go, an eye mask will also help simulate a dark room.  It is recommended to keep your room between 60 degrees and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  If that sounds too cold to you, then bring extra blankets to bed so that you will feel warmer.  It’s beneficial to sleep in a cool room because it becomes easier to reach deep sleep when our core body temperature drops a little bit.  So although you may be wrapped up in your comforter, your head is still exposed and that’s enough to lower your temperature.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, don’t hit the snooze button!  Hitting the snooze button every 10 or so minutes for the half hour to hour before you officially wake up, isn’t helping you at all.  If you set your alarm for the time you actually get out of bed, you will have longer uninterrupted sleep, therefore you will wake up feeling more rested and ready to take on your day!

Ritualize your bedtime routine.  Completing a few relaxing tasks each night before bed will ease your body into a relaxed state and will be easier to fall asleep.  Whether you take a hot bath, wash your face or read a book, just make sure your bedtime routine doesn’t involve your electronics.  No TV, cell phones, tablets or computers at least two hours before bed.  The light your electronics emit ceases melatonin production, so you won’t feel tired and ready for bed if you’re checking your emails right before bed.

I also put two sleep tips to the test to see how effective they really are.  My first sleep tip experiment tested if exercising too close to bedtime would keep you up all night.  I found that when it comes to exercising affecting sleep, it really depends on the person.  I was fine with exercising late at night, but for other people it doesn’t work well for them.  My second sleep tip experiment was going without coffee for a week.  The results from this experiment proved to me that eliminating my regular coffee consumption helped me sleep even better!  I definitely believe that avoiding caffeine in the afternoon will help anyone sleep better.

What is your favorite sleep tip?  Do any sleep tips work for you?  How about, what sleep tips don’t work for you?  Tell me your sleep tip trials and tribulations in the comment section below so that we can get a conversation going!

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Sleep Tip Experiment 2: No Coffee

It’s been a while since my last sleep tip experiment, which I am still working on and enjoying its benefits of sound sleep.  My latest experiment consisted of one week without any coffee.  Before I got my job as the Sleepy’s Snooze Director, I would have multiple cups of coffee throughout my day.  Once I learned how much coffee and caffeine affects your sleep if consumed in the afternoon, I cut back to just my one morning cup of coffee.  But last week I went for the extreme, no coffee at all!  How was I going to get through my day?!  What am I going to do to give me an extra push in the morning?!  I was nervous, but I knew I had to do this, for you my readers.

I feel as if this experiment would have been easier if A) my mom didn’t make coffee every morning (fresh brewed coffee is one of my favorite scents) and B) I didn’t pass four Dunkin Donuts, three 7-11’s and a Starbucks on my way to work (I can’t even count how many delis and bagel stores I pass).  I resorted to two drinks for my coffee-free week; green tea and water.  Drinking a glass of cold water is a much better choice for an afternoon energy boost than coffee or soda.  The sugar and caffeine in coffee and soda will only lead to a harder crash; water will give you the boost (and hydration) you need to tackle the 3pm slump.

The first day was fairly tough; green tea doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee.  I had three cups of green tea on my first day just to try and add up my caffeine fix, which yes, is cheating, I suppose.  But the green tea just didn’t give me that boost I needed on my first day without coffee.  I do have to say that I was fortunate enough to not get the dreaded caffeine withdrawal headache during my experiment, which I now think is a sign that I don’t really need my daily cup of coffee.

By the middle of the week the only thing I was missing was the taste of coffee.  I was drinking more water than I normally did so my body was fully hydrated which is a great natural way to give yourself an energy boost.  I was also battling a bit of a cold and I think that because I was drinking water and green tea, my body was able to beat my cold more quickly.  Completing this sleep tip experiment has made me realize that I don’t need coffee for energy.  Not drinking coffee at all made it even easier to fall asleep at night.  I felt that I was sleeping more deeply because I didn’t have coffee at all.  This experiment really showed me how crucial quality sleep is when it comes to having enough energy to get you through your day.  Coffee and energy drinks just don’t compare to quality sleep when it comes to your energy level.

Since I have completed this sleep tip experiment of no coffee, I have returned to one cup of coffee a day, but it’s more so to enjoy the taste of it.  I love the smell of coffee brewed in the morning and I love the flavor, it’s just something I would miss.  One cup of coffee isn’t bad for you; in fact studies have recently showed that drinking multiple cups of coffee in a day may decrease a woman’s risk of developing depression.  But when it comes to sleep, coffee intake can definitely affect your quality of sleep.  So if you have a hard time falling asleep each night, you may want to try and see if you can go a week without coffee and see if it improves your sleep quality.

Have you ever given up coffee for a period of time?  Do you think you would be able to go a week without coffee?  Tell me in the comment section below!

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Sleep Tip Experiment 1: Exercise

Well you guys, I did what I never thought I would do… I finally joined a gym.  After years of being a lazy couch potato, I caved and finally convinced myself that it was time to start taking care of myself.  Being the Sleepy’s Snooze Director, I read a lot of information about sleep, especially about sleep tips.  Every article and every blog post I would search always emphasized the importance of exercise when it comes to good quality of sleep.  It was time for me to take on my own research and start to practice what I preach.

I joined my gym about three weeks ago now and I go at least three times a week.  I tried the whole wake-up-an-hour-early-to-get-the-workout-in-before-work thing but that only lasted for the first week.  But now that daylight savings time is over and it’s a little brighter than midnight at 6AM I’m definitely going to give it another try.  It wasn’t that bad waking up earlier to hit the gym.  The toughest part was just getting myself out of my bed, but once I did I was ready to go exercise.  I would do about 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of light weights and after I was done, I was feeling great and super ready to take on my day.

But it’s tough to wake up before the sun rises, trust me I know (I was an intern at a radio morning show and needed to get up at 3:30AM to be at work by 5AM).  So, I started caving to the comfort of my bed when my alarm would go off at 6AM for the gym and opted for an extra hour and a half of sleep.  But that didn’t stop me from going to the gym, I then started going at night after work, which was kind of nice.  I go with my boyfriend because we motivate each other to actually go to the gym.  He’s teaching me racquetball, which is a ton of fun and pretty exhausting.  And then I got him to go to yoga class every Wednesday night with me.  It’s always good to go to the gym with someone because you can work out together or at the very least just get each other to go and workout as opposed to watching TV all night.

Now, from my own experience, I can tell you that since I’ve starting exercising at the gym, I have been sleeping outrageously well!  I feel like I get into deeper sleep than I ever have before; it’s amazing.  Even just going three times a week, I feel so much better in the morning after my restful sleep.  I absolutely, 100% vouch for exercise benefitting quality sleep.  I always thought I slept fine, but now I can say that I feel like I sleep very well.  Before I started working out, I would sleep straight to my alarm clock and still be groggy, even after getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.  Now I’m waking up a little bit before my alarm goes off and I’m not shuffling my feet to the shower. 

It’s always great to research sleep tips for suggestions, but you’ll never know how it will affect you until you try them.  For example, with me going to the gym now, when I go at night sometimes I finish my workout as late as an hour before I go to bed but I don’t feel like it prevents me from falling asleep.  I’ll keep you posted on my sleep tip experiments to let you know what works for me and what doesn’t.

Have you tried any sleep tips?  What worked for you?

Keep checking back to my blog for updated sleep information as well as Sleepys.com for great sleep information as well as great mattresses and bedding that will help you sleep better.  Be on the lookout for Sleepy’s upcoming Veteran’s Day Sale too!

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Back to School Means Back to Bed

On August 24th, 2011 Sleepy’s hosted a blogger and press event at our showroom on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.  The event brought together notable parenting bloggers in the NYC area to get advice from the Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus.  The Sleep Doctor offered helpful tips to get children back to their school sleep schedule.

After a long summer of late nights and late starts, it is crucial to prepare your child for the dreaded early morning wake up for school.  It’s best to start this process ASAP for your child to be back to their school sleep schedule for the first day of school (it should be a gradual process).  Here are some great tips for you to try.

  • Light Therapy: Children have a hard time readjusting their sleep schedule because their circadian rhythm is off.  An easy way to reset their internal clock is with light therapy.  There are light therapy boxes you can purchase, but it’s a good idea to talk with your child’s pediatrician first to see which product would be best for your child.  For light therapy to work, all you need to do is have the light indirectly hit your child’s eyes.  Whether they’re watching TV or playing arts and crafts, you can set up a light therapy box next to them while they are doing their favorite activity.  TIP: You can use light therapy to eliminate the effects of jet lag and seasonal depression as well.
  • Aromatherapy: I’ve already told you how helpful taking a hot bath or shower before bed will make it easier for you body to relax in preparation for restful sleep.  Dr. Breus recommends adding relaxing scents to your hot bath/shower for maximum restful effects.  Lavender is the most common scent to induce relaxation.
  • Make Bed Time Earlier: This week, try and have your child go to bed 15 minutes earlier.  15 minutes is a small enough, yet effective, interval of time to start resetting your child’s sleep cycle.  For one whole week have your child’s bedtime 15 minutes earlier.  Then next week, have your child go to bed 15 additional minutes earlier; so that’s 30 minutes earlier than their summer bedtime.  It’s a noninvasive, gradual way to have your child in bed earlier and therefore rising earlier in the morning.

If your child is lacking sleep during the school year, it will affect their immune system.  Besides having a groggy child on your hands, they will also be more susceptible to sickness if they are sleep deprived.  If you try Dr. Breus’ sleep tips and your child is still resistant to wake up in the morning, their mattress should be evaluated (too old, not supportive enough) or they could possibly have a sleep disorder.  It is important to talk to their pediatrician if you think your child could have a sleeping disorder.

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

College Sleeping Tips 101

I’m a little freaked out that come September I won’t be packing my life away and shipping myself back to college.  I just graduated this past May, and the more I think about not going back to school the more I want to crawl into the fetal position and cry.  But, there’s no time for crying in the fetal position in the real world, so to be more proactive with my yearning to go back to college, I’ll give you college-bound kiddies some sleeping advice that I wish someone told me.

Make a schedule: It wasn’t until my senior year that I learned to print out my schedule and hang it up on a wall so that I could actually SEE what I needed to do and where I needed to go.  Having that visual also showed me the windows of free time I had between my classes and internships.  If you lag during the day, put in your schedule time for a 20-30 minute nap each day, but no longer than that otherwise you will wake up groggy, defeating the purpose of napping.  Also, schedule in when you will do your work.  Having your schedule visible will put your mind at ease (making it easier to fall asleep).

  • Did you know, according to one study, that students who got 7-9 hours of sleep per night AND napped for 20-30 minutes a day were able to concentrate more easily thus directly relating to an increase in academic performance?

Ooh, look at the organization!

Get 8 hours of sleep: I NEVER pulled an all-nighter in college.  I came very close a few times, but never stayed awake for a full 24 hours.  My mentality was that nothing was more important than sleep (that must be one of the reasons I got this job).  If I didn’t have my work done by a certain hour, I would call it a night and wake up earlier to finish it.  Sleep is ALWAYS worth it.

Get sleep, but get it in your bed.

Find a workout buddy: It’s not just the “freshman 15,” it’s the sophomore struggle, the junior jiggle and of course, senioritis (it doesn’t just apply to homework).   Having someone go to the gym with you will motivate you to go and even compete with them while working out.  You need energy to get you through the workout and you get energy from a good night’s sleep.  Exercise and sleeping are the one-two punch when it comes to knocking off those extra pounds from the dining hall.

Invest in an eye mask: Why do you care what you look like when you’re sleeping?  It’s not like your roommate will wake up from their slumber to make fun of you.  Having that eye mask will be your savior on the nights that your roommate might be pulling an all-nighter.  It’s SO much easier to fall asleep when your room is as dark as possible, so if you’ve got a night owl of a roommate, the light being on won’t be a problem for you when you have an eye mask.

  • Lights are detrimental when it comes to falling asleep, another suggestion I have is to make sure that your laptop/computer screen is completely off (or shut closed) before you go to bed.  The light from the screensaver will make it harder for you (and your roommate) to get to sleep quickly.

    Is it me, or do eye masks make people look like super heroes?

Are you ready for my most important sleeping tip for college?  You’re going to hate it at first, but trust me, it will change your life (at least while sleeping).

TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE: Yeah I said it.  How can you live without your cell phone being turned on?  You’ll actually sleep more soundly without it.  If you use your cell as an alarm, most phones will turn back on when your alarm is set to go off the following morning.  Perhaps you’re are a little neurotic and worried about something going wrong in the middle of the night, then just turn your phone to be “Phone Only” so that only phone calls will go off.  It’s such a simple thing to do, you MUST try it.  Like most of these tips, I didn’t get to try this until my spring semester of my senior year, but after trying it, I wish I had done it sooner.   It made me realize that the only texts I was getting in the middle of the night were from, let’s just say, friends enjoying a night out (if you know what I mean) so they were never worth waking me up in the middle of the night to read.  Plus, those text become a lot funnier when you first read them in the morning (it will give you plenty to talk about at your 8AM lecture).

Seriously, thank me later on this one.

Those are just a few of my sleeping tips to try while your living (and loving) the college life.  Make sure to check back here throughout the semester as I give you more of my college sleeping tips and information.

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett