A new year a new you! It’s easy to hit the ground running with the excitement of the new year. But for those who have a history of sprinting instead of pacing themselves during this marathon we call life, take note. You don’t want to burn yourself out at the start line.
Quality sleep is one of the most important things we can do for longevity, energy, mental clarity, and overall health. When you don’t get the proper Z’s your body is craving, it can have a negative impact on your mind, body, and spirit. To say it’s worth taking extra steps toward optimal sleep is an understatement.
To help you cover all your bases, below are ways to prime all your senses – sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste – for the kind of sleep that gives you that new year energy year round. Here’s your guide to a Better Sleep For All 5 Senses.
Better Sleep For All 5 Senses
Darkness tells our brain “it’s sleep time,” and prepares the body for rest. Sometimes it’s enough to just turn off the lights, but in a world of technology, we often need a little backup. If you have a street lamp or a neon sign outside your window, purchase blackout curtains (often times the normal ones aren’t thick enough to block that kind of light).
An eye mask is your best friend for any outside distractions – like if your partner gets up early and needs to turn on the lights, or for that red-eye flight where you want to grab some Z’s. An eye mask will also force yourself into sleep mode when it’s time for bed but your eyes want to wander.
Another big step toward better sleep might be the hardest one of all – eliminate electronic screens at night. While many love falling asleep to a Netflix show or a little bedtime reading online, it wreaks havoc on our eyes. Studies have shown that the blue light these electronics give off can not only impact our retinas, but our quality of sleep. Not worth it in the long run.
If we’re doing it right, most of us are spending around 8 hours in bed. That’s a lot of time in one place! Here’s where we should treat ourselves like babies. Have a pillow that is the perfect amount of softness, density, and size for your taste. Be picky! You’re spending more time with this object than just about anything.
Same goes for your bed sheets. Everyone has different preferences so it’s worth trying out a variety of weights and fabrics. Keep in mind, if you live in a seasonal area, you’ll need sheets to complement the weather – like flannel in the winter, and light, airy cotton during the summer. (Read our tips for how to create the perfect winter bed).
Invest in a quality mattress. This is not only for comfort, but for overall health. The right mattress will help your body fully relax, sending you off to sweet dreams. And before bed, have a nice, warm bath. It will instantly calm your body and loosen up any tight joints for a relaxing experience. Have fun experimenting with different bath salts, bath bombs, bubble baths, and oils to see what relaxes you the most.
Smell is scientifically proven to trigger emotional and physical responses. Have you ever smelled food and your mouth started watering? Or caught a scent and felt happy because it reminded you of a loved one? Relaxation can also be triggered by scent so treat your nose a bedtime lullaby.
Some common relaxation scents are lavender, vanilla, jasmine, rose, and sandalwood – and they can all be enjoyed in different forms. Try a diffuser if you prefer essential oils or scented candles if you’re calmed by the ambient candlelight. These scents can also be found in body lotions, oils, and sprays. And if you’re a nighttime bather, a soothing body wash in a relaxing scent will also help your body wind down.
Hearing can either help us or hurt us during sleep, so it’s important to know what works for you. I’ve known people who say they’re comfortable with city noises – the sirens, leaf blowers, or outside chatter. That might be hard to understand, but to each her own.
What are your preferences? Do you like ambient white noise, like the buzz of a ceiling fan or rain falling? If so, a sound machine with various settings will cover all your bases. Do you prefer absolute quiet? Then try earplugs to protect your ears from outside distractions or a snoring, sleep-talking spouse.
If you listen to meditations or guided hypnosis, noise-cancelling headphones are a good option to respect your partner’s sleep. Whatever you fancy, with today’s technology you have full control over what your ears experience, so take advantage of these devices and get the sleep you deserve!
And last but not least, we have taste! Herbal teas have been known to calm the body and signal that it’s time for rest. At the risk of oversimplifying, I’ll mention something obvious because I personally made this mistake years ago – don’t drink tea with caffeine before bed! Herbal means caffeine-free, so stick to these.
Another option: It’s an old wives’ tale to drink warm milk before bed to help with sleep. While there hasn’t been enough evidence to back this up, it worked for many. Give it a try and see if there’s any truth in it for you!
And that’s it! Show your 5 senses some love and enjoy the rewards of brag-worthy sleep.