How I Drastically Improved My Sleep Health (and My Overall Mood)
A few months ago, if you posted something on Instagram at 3 AM, chances are I’d be the first person to like it. This is mostly because I wasn’t asleep and couldn’t sleep. It was a trend that not only caused my dark circles to become a permanent trait of my face, right there next to my freckles, but I was physically exhausted and emotionally unhinged, in my own personal opinion.
So what did I do during the time of my bout of insomnia? I tossed and turned, scrolled endlessly through the Instagram rabbit hole, became an expert in over-thinking, and cried a lot. Sounds glamorous, no? While there was definitely things going on in my life that I’m sure contributed to my mind moving a mile a minute way past midnight, I can also admit now that I wasn’t making sleep health a priority. And my sleep environment? Oh, my friends, it was bleak.
But I knew I wasn’t alone. Not getting shut-eye, sadly, is a trend, it turns out. In February of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a new study that more than a third of adults aren’t getting enough sleep, which means 7 or less hours per night. I couldn’t function properly anymore, so I had to do something.
First I took a step back and realized I wasn’t really trying to get into bed at a decent time. And according to Sleep Expert Dr. Rebecca S. Robbins, who I listened to speak at a sleep mask launch for Amorepacific, making sleep a priority is one of the easiest things you can do to better your sleep health.
“First make time for sleep. It’s easy at the night goes on to suddenly lose track of time, watch another episode of Netflix, write one more report, but do try to make time for sleep. And be conscious about the time that you’re slipping in the covers at night,” she suggests. "Because we’re so focused on what time we wake up, if we reversed that to being a little be more aware of the time to power down, it could go a long way.”
Isn't that funny, though? It's so true. I always freak out about what time I have to roll out of bed and never, ever consider the importance of when I get under the covers. With that, I set myself a bedtime of 10:30 PM each night instead of just focusing on how I needed to get up at 6 AM for a workout.
I also decided to up the ante and create an environment in which I would want to get into bed and not put it off. Thanks to my teeny-tiny Manhattan bedroom, I hadn’t yet upgraded to even a full-size bed (I know, I know), still using my super uncomfortable twin-size mattress from college. So I decided it was time for my adult body to sleep in something a tad larger. That way, I could actually move. Always a fan of my friends’ foam pillow-top mattress covers, I decided to invest in the It Bed by Sleep Number, a bed that features customizable settings, so you can make it as soft or firm as you like using your phone. This particular bed also comes with an app capability that tracks how many hours you log each night. Ah, technology. I also upgraded to new bedding that suited my body temperature well and PJs I couldn’t wait to wear.
Another habit I knew I needed to kick? Keeping my iPhone on my pillow. This wasn’t easy because this is usually the time I am catching up with my friends after a busy day at work. I took it step-by-step, placing my phone on my windowsill instead and turning off the volume 20 minutes before I knew I wanted to snooze.
And as you know, powering down is essential to good sleep health because the lights on the screen disrupt your ability to calm down. "It’s easy for us to think that we can turn our iPhones off and minds off and fall right to sleep, but sleep is a process. Bed time rituals, things that the children in our population do—and they’re the most well-rested—do so well,” notes Robbins. Her tips? Sticking to skin-care regimens and taking a warm shower about 30 minutes before bed.
Luckily, my nighttime skin-care routine is one of the things I look forward to each day. I created a space on my dresser for all my nighttime beauty products—exfoliation pads, serum, moisturizer, eye cream, sleep masks, body oils, and pillow mists all made the list. That on top of some relaxing tea and meditation using a few of my favorite apps? No need to count sheep.
I also realized half the reason I was waking up in the middle of the night was because I was super dehydrated and then sat there dreading getting out of bed to get a glass of water, so I started keeping a bottle of water by my bed for easy access.
Has it helped? I’m liking less Instagram pics in the middle of the night and watching less Snap stories, so I’d like to think so. When I’m stressed or upset, my sleep definitely suffers, but closing my eyes for eight hours isn’t something of a dream anymore… It’s a reality.
Struggling too? Start making time for your sleep, look forward to your bed-time, and make your bedroom a place of pure bliss.
You can check out a few of our shopping suggestions to get you started, below.