New Year, New Bed
New Year, New Bed
A New Year means new opportunities. And one of the biggest, high-impact opportunities for a happier, healthier you is already in your house. You might be reading this article there right now. Your bed may not seem like the biggest investment in your well-being, but it truly is. It all comes down to ensuring you get consistent, quality sleep each night. Fortunately, our friends at Raymour & Flanigan know a thing or two about good beds. In addition to picking out a new mattress suited to your needs, they recommend making the most of your investment by kicking off this New Year with a few tweaks to your nighttime routine.
Sleep, Who Needs It?
We’re all familiar with the bromide “sleep is the best medicine.” Recent research shows that sleep is also being the best tutor, the best stress reliever, and the best productivity booster. Basically, sleep is the ultimate habit magnifier. The right bed helps, we can’t argue with that, but a good night’s sleep isn’t just about finding the right mattress, it’s about developing a few small habits that will have a big impact on your year.
The simple fact is most people do not get enough sleep. Sometimes we are resigned to it, sometimes we claim it an as accomplishment, since it shows how busy we are. Whatever our attitude, there are some very simple truths about the benefits of good sleep.
Who needs to get more sleep?
Everyone actually. “Enough” sleep is not one set number. Everyone in your family will have a slightly different ideal sleep range. Age plays a major role, so does personal preference. Generally toddlers need around twelve hours of sleep, school-aged children need at least ten, and teenagers eight to ten. Adults need between seven to nine hours of quality sleep to feel rested. But studies also show that sleep is deeply personal. We each have certain preferences on the feel of our mattresses,
Your Brain on Sleep
Understanding the impacts of a good night’s sleep is the first step in taking charge of your nightly routines. First off, sleep really is like a medicine. A lack of sleep affects the immune system in profound ways. Studies show that not getting enough sleep, or even getting restless sleep, will increase your likelihood of sickness when exposed to a virus (like a cold). Poor sleep will then slow your recovery, leaving you exposed to additional infections just when you start to feel better. The evidence isn’t anecdotal. Your infection-fighting antibody count actually decreases when you don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep supercharges your brain. Your body may be resting but your brain kicks into hyperdrive while you sleep- arranging information, prioritizing memories, and literally taking a bath. Research shows that sleep improves learning by giving your mind a chance to mull over experiences from your day and hang on to the things that matter most. Can’t pick up those new dance steps? Have a hard time remembering names? Your brain consolidates this kind of information when you get enough sleep, meaning it’s easier to access, and act on, the next time around. Likewise, sleep clears out the information you may not need long term. With quicker access to important information and fewer random factoids clouding your thinking, more sleep keeps you sharper day-in and day-out.
The brain benefits of sleep cannot be understated. Improved sleep habits are linked to a reduced risk of dementia, lower levels of stress, and better regulated blood pressure. When you sleep your brain is literally bathed by a cerebrospinal fluid that clears out potentially harmful proteins. Research is ongoing, but a build-up of these proteins in the brain is linked to Alzheimer's later in life.
Sleep: The Habit Magnifier
Getting more sleep can feel like a big ask. Afterall, you are up late for a reason. Trying to squeeze a little more personal or family time into your day feels like the right move in the moment. Fortunately, improving your sleep habits doesn’t require changing your whole life and it might even mean more quality time with your loved ones, not less.
Start with a few small goals to ease everyone in the house into a more healthful, productive schedule.
Pick a Number
Sleep improves focus, patience, and coordination. Explain those simple benefits to everyone at home, let everyone know their range, and then have each person commit to a number. Once the whole family has thought through their sleep requirements, start a journal. Keeping track of everyone’s progress toward more balanced sleep will improve accountability and will help keep the new gains from improved sleep in context for everyone. A journal will also give you the chance to take note of any patterns you discover and to make sensible adjustments as necessary.
Make Quiet Time Screen-free
One important caveat- your sleep journal should be analog. Screens are the number one enemy of good sleep. First off, TVs, phones, tablets, and other digital screens emit high concentrations of blue light. This can be a net good during the day. Blue light has been shown to boost attention and mood. But blue light also suppresses the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. Even three hours after exposure, test subjects who were put under blue lights instead of red or green ones had significantly less melatonin in their systems. Screens also affect focus. Having a device nearby has been shown to distract people to the point where their IQ is measurably lower. Out of sight is out of mind, almost literally in this case.
Relax First, Sleep Better
Cutting screens out of your nighttime routines has added benefits. It is easier to fall asleep with some calm lead time. Dim your house lights 1-2 hours before bedtime. Put soothing activities on the schedule for those hours. Ten minutes before bedtime, get into bed and take a few deep breaths. If you don’t feel yourself settling in after ten minutes, get out of bed and move to a comfortable chair or couch. You don’t want your brain to associate your bed with waking activities. Keep up your calm breathing until you feel noticeably sleepy- just remember to get back to bed. Even the comfiest couch won’t guarantee as good a night’s sleep your brand new bed.
About Raymour & Flanigan
Raymour & Flanigan carries brand name furniture and accent pieces for your entire home. Every day, our knowledgeable associates help guide satisfied customers through the comprehensive selection of bedroom, dining room, or living room furniture available in our 100+ showrooms across the Northeast. Stop in to talk about your furniture needs, our team is always excited to help. See these helpful links for more information on the Raymour & Flanigan experience, our one-of-a-kind Platinum Protection Plan, or what we’re talking about today on Twitter.