There’s no doubting the importance of sleep – it is the essential ingredient to our health and vitality. When we sleep, our body’s rest and repair. Skin, muscles and blood are regenerated and our immune system restores. When we sleep well, we awaken refreshed.
However, what about our association with the bed and how this can impact our sleep? When we get into bed we want to think of sleep and avoid anything that may stimulate the mind, such as watching TV or checking our phones.
The foundation of a good night’s sleep is a comfortable bed and that’s why it’s important to strengthen our body’s association with the bed as a place we only sleep. Our minds are clever and subconsciously create a lot of links. It is easier to fall and remain asleep if the mind and body can make a sleep response to an important cue: the bed.
It’s recommended that adults should aim for seven to nine hours sleep a night. Partnered with quality sleep, which means that you typically fall asleep in 30 minutes or less. Followed by sleeping soundly through the night with no more than one awakening. However, for those that are unable to achieve both sleep quantity and quality there are a number of techniques including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) coping mechanisms. These can help train our mind and body to develop healthy sleeping habits and strengthen our association with the bed.
With this in mind we have compiled some simple techniques and mechanisms to help you drift off:
Aim to be asleep 85% of the time you’re in bed. You may spend 8 hours in bed, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are sound asleep for that period of time. Reflect on the amount of time you are in bed, the minutes it took for you to fall asleep and how long you are awake throughout the night. If you find that you are below the 85% mark, it may be time to review your sleep routine and make some adjustments. A sleep diary is a simple way to reflect on this. Avoid clock-watching, simply estimate and note down the number of minutes it took to drift off the following morning. Also include how you felt during the day, with regards to alertness, mood and energy levels. This will help you gather a better understanding of your personal balance of sleep quantity and quality.
A routine helps the brain prepare for sleep. Our sleep system, along with other neurophysiological systems, like predictability and consistency, emphases the need to incorporate a bedtime ritual. It’s important to utilise the time of transition before you get in to bed to establish a calm pre-sleep routine that you can repeat every night. This will slowly train your body and mind to unwind before you get in to bed. The length of the routine should be determined by you; it has been suggested between 30 minutes to two hours. About two hours before our actual bedtime the brain is already preparing for sleep. It is during this time that the waking system, which fires billions of neurons all day to keep us alert, slowly starts to come down to allow the sleep system to take over. The most vital part of your bedtime routine is that you do something you truly enjoy and find relaxing. From enjoying a warm bath with aromatherapy oils, a simple set of light stretches or incorporating fragrances in the form of sprays or oils that encourage calm, such as Votary’s Lavender and Chamomile Pillow Spray. The key is to remember that it may take a few weeks or even a couple of months for our body’s to really cement a routine, so don’t give up after two nights.
Taryn Toomey, wellness expert and founder of The Class, shot by Jaimie Baird for Savoir
As we mentioned before, our minds create a lot of links and connection without us even knowing, so it’s important to avoid using the bed for other activities. All those extra hours spent reading or watching TV before sleep can add up. The more time you spend in bed before you sleep, the more your body gets used to being awake in bed. It’s recommended any time winding down before bed is in a ‘daytime’ space like the living room, then heading to bed about 20 minutes before you want to go to sleep.
If you have difficulties sleeping you’ve probably noticed that you spend a lot of time in bed awake. This means that your bed might become connected with being awake, frustrated or anxious about sleep. Sleep is an automatic process, the harder you try the less likely it is to happen. Try to take the pressure off sleep, leave the room and remind yourself that the human body can handle a few bad nights.
To promote your bed-sleep connection, follow the quarter-of-an-hour rule: if you notice that you aren’t asleep within around 15 minutes of going to bed, try getting out of bed, go to another room and go through your wind down routine until you are feeling sleepy and ready to return to bed. Avoid clock-watching; just estimate quarter-of-an-hour. This will help prevent you from associating your bed with restlessness and unwanted thoughts, strengthening your mind and body’s association with your bed as a place of restorative sleep.
We hope that these techniques help strengthen the body and mind’s association with the bed. Sleep is the essential ingredient to improving our well-being and through strengthening the bed-sleep link you are able to calmly drift off and achieve a night of quality sleep.
Book an appointment with a Savoir expert to begin your sleep-bed journey.
Imagery – Taryn Toomey, wellness expert and founder of The Class, shot by Jaimie Baird for Savoir