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Five Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water - Sleep

If there's anything we can say about 2020, it's that there's no shortage of challenges. That we're overly stressed goes without saying, and being able to adapt in 2020 is a bona fide super power. It's what separates survivors from thrivers during a global pandemic. Here are five ways to edge out the naysayers.

Ditch the late night Netflix binging for satisfying REM and DEEP sleeping. Your energy levels, immune system efficiency, and your overall mood will be boosted in ways you've never imagined. For the last year I've learned to measure my sleep with effective wearable tech (Oura ring). It's given me the capability to experiment with the many variables upon which a good night's rest relies. I've narrowed down the most impactful variables and how I altered my approach to sleeping.

1. Being a cheapskate in the world of mattresses is a sure path to daily neck and back pain. Mattresses range from $300 on the low end to $2,000 on the high end, though it's possible to spend upwards of $7,000 on a bed system designed for custom comfort (Sleep Number). If you don't want to break the bank experimenting with ways to find the best mattress, consider the more affordable mattress top pads to learn whether or not you prefer firm over soft. The biggest jump in quality sleep for me came from a new mattress.

2. Many of us have purchased new cars with no reservation in parking those beauties far away from the pack to prevent damage. Your sleep deserves the same guarded approach. Your room should be an oasis of Zs, not an entertainment pad rivaling your local movie theatre. Your mind needs a place where it knows sleep is the priority. After removing the television from my bedroom, I saw the second best jump in quality sleep.

3. Do you sleep on your back? Side? Stomach? Your quality of sleep, and the amount of restlessness, often depends on the position you're in while dozing off to dreamland. Left side and from the back work best for me. They are also the most recommended by sleep researchers, assuming you're not dealing with sleeping/breathing challenges. Changing your default position can be painstaking. Be patient. After a few weeks your body will thank you. When I fall asleep on my back I notice a deeper sleep with less interruptions.

4. Light is important for quality sleep. Scrolling the blue light train on your phone just before bed is disastrous. Blue light tricks your mind into thinking you're experiencing daylight while your circadian rhythm suffers to find useful patterns. If possible, switch to amber lights after sunset. Getting outside to experience natural light will improve your sleep as well. Having my phone in my room next to my bed is not only a catalyst to constant pick ups, but I also feel the mental pressure of "checking" social media for updates. When I charge my phone outside of my room, I almost always sleep better.

5. Sound and sleep have a very tight relationship, even when not referring to snoring. For six months I used an Alexa device to play white noise and other meditative sounds while falling asleep. I was shocked to see the effects. My restlessness decreased dramatically. I'm a light sleeper, so the soothing sounds kept me at bay from the sharp sounds of family members hitting up the toilet or late night snacking. I highly recommend experimenting with the sounds most pleasing to your sleep.

My quest for great rest is a continual journey. At the time of this writing I'm waiting on the arrival of a Sleep Number unit to invite my mind and body to sleep nirvana. I'm also using the new Kokoon headset and eye mask to find better balance in sound and light (or should I say a lack thereof?). Either way, stay tuned for the results! Next on the agenda? Exercise.

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