Insufficient sleep is a public health problem. But while we hear plenty about how we should be getting more sleep, it turns out that quality of sleep can sometimes have greater benefits than the quantity. It might be worth trying to sleep better instead of just longer. Here are three simple tips to get you started:
Step 1: Cool down your room
The best sleep happens at 65 degrees. Even if you are tucked under a warm blanket, researchers find that keeping your head cool is optimal for good sleep.
Also, if you warm up your body before entering a cool sleeping environment, the slight drop in your body temperature induces a drowsiness that will help you fall asleep.
Step 2: Understand the power of light
Many of your body's systems are regulated by exposure to natural light. This circadian rhythm helps activate your body in the morning and calm it down at night.
Getting a nice dose of light in the morning can help activate your brain to prepare for the day's tasks.
At night, dimming lights and turning off screens an hour before bed can help your brain prepare for rest, contributing to higher-quality sleep.
Step 3: Get comfortable with herbs
Sniffing herbs is often associated with new-age pseudoscience and multilevel marketing schemes. And while the research on most essential oil therapy is still young, one herbal sleep aid has gained stature within sleep science: lavender.
The list of lavender's purported benefits runs a mile long, and the majority of these claims have little, if any, science to back them up.
But when it comes to lavender's calming effects, a review of 15 quantitative studies, including 11 randomized controlled trials, showed that inhaling lavender before bed can lead to better sleep.
So go ahead and give these tips a try — and see how things change for you during the day.