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Thanks to the magical confusion of Daylight Saving Time, the clocks rolled back an hour while you were sleeping last night, meaning that yes, while technically we’ve arrived in your inbox an hour later than usual, we’re not actually late. And while you may have woken up before your alarm this morning (if you’re the kind of weirdo who sets an alarm on Sundays), the shift is bound to catch up to you later this evening when you hit a wall and are ready to crash right around dinner time.
Aside from the time change, fall’s dwindling daylight hours mean you’ll soon likely be commuting to and from work in the dark — not exactly ideal circumstances for keeping that circadian rhythm in check.
According to the Canadian Sleep Society, humans need somewhere between six and nine hours of sleep each night (it varies for each individual) and getting your optimal amount of sleep each night is super important to function, even at the most basic level.
“Insufficient sleep, even on a single night, has a number of immediate consequences including lower alertness, negative mood, reduced motor and visual acuity, longer response times, and impaired attention and memory,” says the CSS. Before you reach for that shot of espresso, it gets worse: “Chronic sleep restriction over days and weeks leads to cumulative deficits in alertness, mood and cognitive performance.” And let’s not even get into the long-term effects of sleep deprivation.
Sadly, sleeping in on weekends will do nothing to help you “catch up” on missed sleep throughout the week (a.k.a. “sleep debt,”) so it’s wise to do whatever you can to get the best sleep you can every night of the week. (Prevention is better than cure, after all.)
IN PURSUIT OF SWEET(ER) DREAMS
Thankfully, practicing good “sleep hygiene” — sleep therapist-speak for a having a healthy bedtime routine — isn’t all that complicated. Along with avoiding caffeine later in the day (don’t freak, you can still have your morning cup!), getting regular exercise, and — this is a big one — not staring at your phone for hours before bed, here are a few ways to prep for a more restful snooze.
• Chill Out, Man
“Overheating is one of the most common issues of troubled sleepers,” says Nicole Tapscott, vice president and general manager of Casper Canada. Scientists agree: according to the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S., the ideal sleeping temperature is around 65°F (that’s about 18.3°C). Casper is one of many sleep companies investing heavily in engineering mattresses and bedding designed with temperature control and breathability as a top priority.
• Rise and Shine
Step away from the snooze button. According to clinical psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, setting a consistent wake-up time might be even more important than a consistent bedtime. In an interview with Domino, Breus explains that “waking up at the same time will help you get optimal sleep at night,” adding that your wake-up time doesn’t necessarily need to be early as long as it’s a good match for your typical bedtime.
• Get Naked (and Then Get Busy)
Ditch your PJs. Along with having one less layer of fabric keeping you uncomfortably warm (see above), if you share your bed with a partner, sleeping in the buff may inspire some other bedroom activities that could lead to a more restful sleep. Yes, we’re talking about sex. Oxytocin (a.k.a. “the love hormone”) released in the brain while doing the deed leads to “a feeling of pleasant well-being and relief from stress,” neurologist and sleep specialist Dr. Amer Khan told Healthline. “Other hormones, such as dopamine, prolactin, and progesterone, have been implicated in affecting the mind with a sense of relief, relaxation, and sleepiness following the act of satisfactory sex.” (You’re welcome.)
BUILD A BETTER BEDROOM
Turning your bedroom into a calming, stress-free sanctuary isn’t just about how you decorate it (although that’s fun — and totally worthwhile — too). Setting up an ideal sleeping environment is a major key to getting good sleep. And getting a good night’s sleep is big business these days. Companies have put countless hours (and dollars) into research and development to create products that support healthy sleep practices, with a booming US $70 billion sleep aid market to show for it.
For something humans have been doing since time began, the amount of innovation that’s gone on in the world of sleep in the past several years is staggering. If you’re in the market to invest in a bedroom makeover in the name of better sleep, these are some of the most innovative products to outfit the bedroom of your dreams (literally):
• The Mattress
Of all the furnishings that contribute to the quality of your sleep, your mattress is arguably the most important. In just a few short years, mattress maker Casper has gone from a purveyor of millennial-marketed beds-in-a-box to an innovation-leading industry disruptor.
It’s newest top-of-the-line mattress, the Casper Wave Hybrid ($1950 to $3650, depending on size), took nearly five years to develop. The resulting 13-inch thick slab combines four layers of different types of foam atop a base of airflow-friendly pocket coil springs. Along with the previously mentioned focus on cooling and breathability — the moisture-wicking wool cover further combats humidity — this model takes extra care with “layers of ergonomic foam [that] work together with hundreds of springs to support any and all body types,” Tapscott explains. “The Wave Hybrid uses pressure-relieving foams to absorb your weight and transfer pressure away from key areas while targeted gel pods actively support your hips and shoulders for full spinal alignment.”
And of course, like all Casper mattresses, the Wave Hybrid is magically compressed and rolled to fit in a compact shipping box for easy delivery.
• The Pillow
A small item with a big impact: your pillow. This is another one where ergonomics come into play, with current innovations focusing on the way your head, neck and shoulders are supported. Endy’s customizable pillow ($80 for the standard size, and $95 for king) is stuffed with shredded memory foam infused with bamboo charcoal (said to help it regulate temperature and stay cool). The idea is that you can pull out the bits of memory foam to customize the fullness of the pillow depending if you’re a back-sleeper, side-sleeper or front-sleeper, customizing the level of support to you. The pillow comes with a miniature zippered pouch to store the excess bits of foam, which then doubles as a travel-sized nap pillow.
• Bedding and Linens
Duvet startup Buffy is all about that cool sleep, too. Their innovation comes in the materials they choose: The Breeze Comforter (US $180 to US $260 depending on size) is made with a eucalyptus fibre shell and fill, which the brand says is “naturally breathable and cool-to-the-touch.” Bonus: Eucalyptus requires about a tenth of the amount of water as cotton to grow, and the brand claims their production process is completely waste-free, so you can rest easy knowing you’re doing right by Mother Earth.
Montreal-based bedding brand Maison Tess banishes climate change anxiety for a good night’s sleep too, with its Coco-Linen sheets and duvet covers (from $105 to $370 depending on how robust a set you opt for). The sustainable fabric is woven from a blend of percale cotton and linen; the cotton is sourced from a family-run Portuguese mill backed by the Better Cotton initiative, while the hypoallergenic flax linen adapts to the body’s temperature and wicks away moisture. Plus, all the brand’s bedding is Oeko Tex certified.
For extra soothing comfort, layer on a weighted blanket. While studies are scarce, the therapeutic belief is that sleeping under a weighted blanket relaxes the nervous system in the same way swaddling calms a baby, naturally increasing your body’s levels of happiness-inducing serotonin and sleep-promoting melatonin while decreasing stressful cortisol levels. The Gravity Blanket ($279) is designed to be about 10% of the user’s body for the optimal effect.
• Smart Tech
To keep that 65°F/18.3°C temperature in check, Ecobee’s SmartThermostat ($329) is an indispensable investment. Along with allowing you to program a schedule with desired temperatures for different times and activities, like sleeping at night and waking up in the AM, Ecobee’s SmartSensors detect where you are in your home, to tailor the temperature in each room accordingly.
Controlling the lighting — and darkness — in your bedroom also plays a role in your sleep quality. Philips’ popular Wake Up Light has been made nearly obsolete by the brand’s newer innovation, the Hue Ambience Smart Lightbulbs ($160 for a starter pack). Compatible with any nightstand lamp or bedside sconce, replace your standard bulbs with these to take advantage of the customizable “Gentle Sleep” and “Wake Up” routines, which program your lights to automatically dim and brighten at set sleep and wake-up times, while also adjusting the colour temperature of the light to mimic a sunset or sunrise.
For double darkness control, cover your bedroom window with IKEA’s highly anticipated new FYRTUR smart blinds ($169 to $249 depending on width). The blackout roller blinds can be controlled via a smartphone app, Google Assistant or set on a timer to raise and lower at will.
• In the Air
After setting the stage, it’s time to set the mood. This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($34) blends essential oils of lavender, vetivert and wild chamomile. The brand claims that in controlled trials, a spritz of the trio of aromatherapeutic scents lulled participants off to sleep 89% faster, and 98% said they felt more refreshed the next morning. For ultra pre-sleep pampering, run yourself a warm bath or hop in the shower — a recent study shows an hour or two before bedtime is ideal — and enhance the experience with This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak ($44) or Shower Gel ($39).
IT’S SNOOZING SEASON
Even though full-on hibernation isn’t in the cards for human beings (lucky bears), we do tend to sleep more during the winter months than the rest of the year, so now’s the ideal time to make your space as cozy and inviting as possible. (Bonus: Since the social circuit of summer evenings is well behind us, no one will judge you if you’re in bed by 9pm every night.)