Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’re following a strict sleep schedule. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’re avoiding all caffeine before bedtime. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted from a long day of work. Sometimes, all your great routines just can’t get you a good nights sleep if you haven’t built the perfect environment for it. In this post, I’m going to tell you how I’ve built the ultimate sleep sanctuary and what I recommend so you can to.
A little while ago, my bed had reached it’s 10 year lifespan. It was time to get a new one. At that point, it made me rethink my whole sleeping environment. Are my pillows, sheets and bed even right for my body shape? Are there tools I could use to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling more refreshed? This excited me. I hadn’t thought much of my sleeping environment for a while because all my stuff still had useful life left. Why change anything that’s still working as intended? But now that I needed a new bed, I wanted to reshape my entire sleeping environment. In doing so, I created what I call the ultimate sleep sanctuary. The ultimate environment for ultimate sleep.
Number 1: The Mattress
At the core of every good night’s sleep is a comfortable, stress relieving mattress. A good mattress has the ability to reduce your back pain, ease joint discomfort, and reduce tossing and turning. All of this will lead to a deeper sleep. So, I set out for the perfect mattress. What I’ve found to be the best mattress comes from the company Helix. Helix is a relatively new, online based mattress company. Some of the things that led me to recommend the Helix are:
- Their hybrid mattresses. They’re partially made from coils which are known to be very durable, and great for conforming to your body. They have different coil zones on the mattress as to provide a softer feel on your shoulders but firmer under your hips. This helps keep your spine aligned during sleep. The hybrid also has memory foam on top which is great for reducing vibrations from movement, and providing a soft, comfortable feel.
- They have options. They offer mattresses based on your sleeping position. Whether you’re a side sleeper or back & stomach sleeper, there’s a mattress for you. They also offer varying levels of firmness to best fit your needs. For me, I’m a side sleeper that prefers a firmer mattress. According to most research studies, the healthiest way to sleep is on your right side (Sleeping on your left side can restrict blood flow since that’s where your heart is located. Sleeping on your stomach isn’t good for your back. Sleeping on your back isn’t good for snoring or sleep apnea). Also, firmer mattresses are usually recommended for reducing back pain because it keeps your spine in better alignment.
- They have a sleep quiz that matches you with a mattress that best suits your needs. It takes the guessing out of which mattress is best for you.
- There’s a 15 year warranty, 100 day sleep trial to decide if you like it, and free shipping.
Based on these things, I wouldn’t start a sleep sanctuary without a mattress like this. If you’re interested in getting a Helix mattress, feel free to use this link to get an extra $100 off.
Number 2: The Head Pillow
With a great mattress already selected, the next item on my list was a pillow. I knew a comfortable pillow would be great for my head and neck. The two things that mattered most to me when selecting a pillow were a pillow that conformed to my head and neck, and a pillow that kept cool. I didn’t want to deal with any head or neck strains, and I know it’s easier to fall asleep with a lower surface temperate. This led me to the ViscoSoft Memory Foam Arctic Gel Pillow. I’ve loved this pillow from the day I bought it. Every time I head to bed, it’s cool to the touch and helps ease me into sleep. Great pillow.
Number 3: The Body Pillow
This might be my favorite purchase of all. It’s a memory foam body pillow. When I was going to a chiropractor and physical therapist for my back pain, they both recommended that I sleep with a body pillow. They said if you sleep on your side, you should have the body pillow sandwiched between your knees and in-between your arms. It’s optimal for straight spine alignment which will take stress off of your vertebrae. I immediately googled the top rated body pillow and found this Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Body Pillow. I’ve since used this every night that I’m in my bed. It puts my body in perfect alignment and is so comfortable. And so soft. And it’s machine washable! If you haven’t slept with a body pillow, you need to try it.
Number 4: Control Light
While most people only think about the objects they sleep on for an ideal sleep environment, I wanted to cover everything. This included falling asleep and waking up in a more natural way. The way our body has fallen asleep and woken up for hundreds of thousands of years is via the sun. And since I don’t want my sleep schedule to follow the sun’s schedule, I decided to purchase a sunrise alarm which mimics the sunset and sunrise. I’ve found this to be most useful in the winter when I’m waking up at 6am and it’s pitch dark outside. With the sunrise alarm, you can set it to slowly light up in the morning over a period of time (ex: 15mins). This has helped me wake up more naturally because it feels like the actual sun is out, and not like it’s 20 degrees and dark in the middle of winter. The actual sunrise alarm I purchased didn’t have the sunset feature which I now regret. I wish I had spent the extra money to buy the Philips Sunrise and Sunset Alarm. So, next time I need a new alarm, I’m buying this one.
Number 5: Control Temperature
Next, I was surprised by how much of an effect temperature has on your sleep. Most experts, like the National Sleep Foundation, back a bedroom that’s chilled to around 65 degrees for optimal sleep. When the temperature get’s cooler, your body temperature falls and you get sleepy. Just as your body’s sleep matches the sunrise and sunset, it also matches the cooling at night and warming in the morning. Therefore, I think it’s best to get a Nest Thermostat (if you don’t have a programmable one already) and set it to cool your bedroom to 65 just as you’re getting ready for bed. It also helps to have it warm your bedroom in the morning as you wake up. Just as the sunrise alarm helps your body naturally adjust to light, the Nest thermostat helps your body naturally adjust to temperature.
Number 6: Control Noise
The last sense I wanted to control was noise. Everyone knows that if someone’s fighting in the room next door, or you live next to a parking garage where car alarms go off every 15 minutes, a loud environment can not only prevent sleep, but can wake you up throughout the night. What I’ve found to be helpful is some low white noise in the room. The white noise helps drown out all other noises outside your room. It’s like a mask on disruptive sound. If you have a ceiling fan, this can help create that white noise. If you don’t have a fan, I’d recommend the LectroFan Sound Machine. The LectroFan produces white noise mechanically. So, unlike white noise apps you can get on your phone, the mechanical noise is natural and will never loop. It also comes with 20 variations of sound masking so you can select the one that’s best for you. While noise can be a problem for sleeping, most people don’t realize that a little white noise can make a great difference.
One task, replacing my mattress, set me off on an adventure to create the ideal sleeping environment. One that was designed for deep sleep. One that naturally puts you to sleep at night, and wakes you up in the morning. One that has you feeling more refreshed than you’ve ever felt before. All of that, has led me to create what I call, The Ultimate Sleep Sanctuary.
If you’ve ever wanted to drastically improve your sleep, try some of the things I recommended in this post. Try building your ultimate sleep sanctuary.
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