At the start of a new year, many people prioritise their health and make commitments to get fitter. But given that sleep is a such an important component of health, it’s surprising that more people don’t include sleep in their goals. We challenge you to start treating sleep like a workout this year! The results will be worth it.
When we get ready to exercise, we have a list of things we need, from good training shoes and workout clothes to an epic playlist, a workout plan and a bottle of water. If you’re working out at home, you might have fitness equipment like weights, a skipping rope or a Pilates mat. If you’re heading to gym, you might plan on using the gym equipment and take your sweat towel with you.
Just as you need the right equipment for exercising, you need the right gear to sleep well. This includes a comfortable mattress (find out about buying the best mattress for your needs here) and pillow(s) with adequate support, comfy and clean bedding, and the right temperature.
Just like having fitness goals helps to keep you accountable and assists in tracking progress, so does having sleep goals. Your goal might be to get to bed earlier, to sleep more hours, to wake up feeling refreshed or to maintain your sleep routine on weekends.
Identify your objectives and take steps to make them a reality. For example, if your goal is to get to bed earlier, set a bedtime and create reminder alarms on your phone to start a bedtime routine and then switch off completely. If your goal is to get enough sleep on weekends, schedule social activities for earlier to make sure you can get home and into bed at a reasonable hour. If your goal is to get better quality sleep, develop better sleep hygiene habits.
Some people find it easier to fall asleep with white noise in the background, or by listening to soothing music before bed. Whatever is going to help relax your mind and help you catch some much-needed rest, add it to your playlist. White noise is a common sound that can be created by using a fan, humidifier or even a white noise machine or app. YouTube and Spotify both have several playlists of music for sleeping that you might want to try.
Just as there are pre-workout supplements available to help you with the correct nutrition for exercising, there are a few ways to prep your body for sleep worth trying. These include drinking chamomile tea or a glass of warm milk before bed.
If you’d rather rely on your sense of smell than taste to drift you off to dreamland (or to energise you in the morning), consider essential oils that can assist.