10 tips to improve your sleep

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July 23rd, 2018

At Zleep Hotels, we always want to secure the right facilities for a good night’s sleep, but there are many ways in which you yourself can improve your sleep. Here are 10 tips on small changes that can influence your sleep positively. Keep on reading and sleep better.

1. Keep your sleep routine

By going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day, your body and mind becomes trained. The body’s natural inner clock reacts to the routine and understands when it should be tired and when you should be fresh and filled with energy again. Going to bed late and sleeping in has the same effect as when you are traveling across time zones. That’s why you call it “social jetlag”, since it especially has a large effect on people during the weekend; thanks to the party-Saturday you sleep longer and it can thus be difficult to fall asleep Sunday evening – and even worse to get up Monday morning. Create a schedule and keep a steady sleeping routine, so that your body can understand your daily patterns.

2. Relax before you go to bed

You should always relax before you go to bed. Activity creates stress or anxiety, and it does not allow the right mindset to prepare the body to go to sleep. Instead, you should have a relaxing routine just before bedtime, preferably an hour before getting in between the sheets. Regardless if you are reading a book, meditating to calm music or something else that works for you, avoid doing it in bright light.

Bonus tip about light: Keep your room entirely dark when you go to bed, and make sure you get plenty of light when you wake up; that is another signal to your body when it’s time to get up or fall asleep.

3. Put your phone away

Speaking of light, we are bound to suggest putting away all electronics one hour before bedtime. It is especially your mobile that can be difficult for many to put away once in bed. But the light from your phone activates your braincells in a way that makes the body believe it is light outside. The body reacts opposite of how it should and does not understand that it is actually time to sleep. If you can’t put your phone down, we at least suggest you put it on night mode, if your phone has that function, so that you’re only exposed to milder light that doesn’t distrupt your beauty sleep as much.

4. Exercise throughout the day

It is proven that people who exercise a lot actually sleep the best. But improving your sleep does not require all too much training. Training daily, even if it’s just light training, does help you sleep better. Even a few minutes of physical activity each day can make a big difference for you. A short run or a bike ride are easy activities that can be done even if you are staying at a hotel, since there is often nice surroundings, where you can run or bike. Some of the Zleep hotels have their own fitness room that you can use free of charge as a guest; other hotels have agreements with nearby gyms. If you exercise throughout the day, it is best to do it no later than a couple of hours before you go to bed because the body is otherwise filled with energy. An activity like yoga can be a good activity to make you relax beforehand. Yoga helps lower the pulse and makes you breathe more calmly.

Bonus tip about breathing: Take deep breaths and slow inhalations when you relax before bedtime. Inhaling deeply imitates how your body is feeling when you relax, so you “trick” it to become more calm.

5. Optimal room conditions

There are three elements in your room that can affect your quality of sleep. The first one is the temperature. There is no best temperature for somebody to sleep in, as it is an individual preference, but it is suggested that people sleep best between 15 and 22 degrees Celsius. That is the optimal temperature for the body because between this span, the body doesn’t use more energy on regulating the body temperature. Some say it is better to sleep in colder environments, and if this is true then we are quite lucky in Scandinavia since we have the best natural conditions to sleep in (almost) all year round.

The second element in the room that affects your sleep is the lighting that we already mentioned further up. It is important that you turn off all the lights and have a good curtain to keep the light out. This is because light can disrupt your sleep and it can be difficult to fall back to sleep if you wake up in a bright room. The third and last element that we would like to point out is noise. It is of course best and easiest to sleep in quiet surroundings. Although it should not be too quiet either as this makes us more sensitive to small noises, which can disrupt our sleep.

6. Mattress and pillow quality

The mattress and the pillow are everything. They are the key to a good night’s sleep and should be considered as holy relics. These are the relics that should be maintained at any cost. The mattress and pillow’s comfort and support are very important for your sleep. Some can fall asleep at almost any place, but the mattress’s comfort means a lot for how the body feels when you wake up 7 or 8 hours later. We recommend that you invest in a good mattress that suits your needs at home. It may be expensive but it will last for many years and, as we’ve pointed out, means a lot to your quality of sleep – and also for your level of energy and mood. At Zleep Hotels, we have found mattresses that are neither too hard nor too soft – they are just right, and almost all of our guests agree.

Does your pillow seem a bit flat? Then perhaps it’s time to get a new one. But before you do, try to put it in the washing machine. Experts recommend that you wash your pillow once every four months – at the hotels we do this more regularly in partnership with world leading hygiene and textile service provider, Berendsen. Washing your pillows helps to get rid of bacteria, but recent research shows that it is not necessary to wash the pillow each time; instead, put it in the dryer for 20-30 minutes, which improves its hygiene. At the same time, your pillow becomes more fluffy and gives you a better head support.

7. Avoid food and alcohol during the night

If you think the one about your phone was strict, you won’t be happy about this one. A good rule of thumb is to stop drinking alcohol and caffeine, smoke cigarettes, and eat heavy food 2-3 hours before bed. Let’s start with the alcohol: A goodnight drink works as if it helps you fall asleep and that could well be, but your sleep gets worse and disturbed, so you won’t feel very good the day after. Caffeine is something we almost don’t have to explain; it has an energy boosting effect on the body and affects your muscles directly, so that you will have a harder time calming down and falling asleep. Water can actually also be something that you might want to keep away from drinking too much of in the evening, so that you don’t have to empty your bladder in the middle of the night. Smoking is a big reason to sleeping problems. There are many different ingredients in tobacco that strongly affect your sleep structure, so we can only recommend that you quit smoking if you are trying to improve your sleep quality. Last but not least, you should also avoid heavy food later in the evening. Having a stomach full of food that is fat or rich in energy can keep you awake. Instead, researchers recommend that you eat food with a high amount of tryptofan, e.g. almonds, bananas, yoghurt and dates. These will affect your sleep rhythm positively.

8. Limit your use of the bed

Your brain should associate your bed with sleep, so that it automatically thinks “it’s time for bed,” when you lay down in bed. It is recommended that you only use the bed for sleeping, and all other activities should thus be done elsewhere. If you have a sofa, it would be a good idea to use it when you want to lay down and do another activity at the same time – that way you have the comfort but avoid the bed.

9. Control your sleep with CBT-I

CBT-I is short for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. We are not mentioning it because you need a therapist, nor because we are experts on the scientific aspects of the concept. We mention it because there are some very practical do-it-yourself things that you can easily follow. CBT-I enhances what has previously been mentioned: You can take control of your sleep through stimulating only this one activity when you are in your bed. This restriction also includes the relaxing exercises that was mentioned in the beginning. What sets this suggestion apart from the rest is that you now need to put restrictions on sleep itself. It is not only about what you do and where, but also about how long you spend in bed each night. Have you not fallen asleep within the hour? Then you should get up, sit in another room with a relaxing activity in dim lighting – that is until you get sleepy again, then you can go back to your bed and try falling asleep again. Many people, who have trouble falling asleep, experienced that if you comply with these restrictions, it could potentially affect your sleep within two weeks. So avoid tossing and turning for hours, get up and enjoy a book until are ready to give sleep another shot.

10. Separate duvets

If you are two in the room and share a big duvet, you will notice the other person’s movements in bed and how the duvet moves (you may lose the entire duvet in a tug of war, but there is not much to do). Besides this, there is also the loud noises some of us make when we breathe deeply. We can’t do anything about snoring, even if there are many solutions to try to reduce the “problem”. But we can do something about the duvet-stealing problem, because having separate duvets will actually better your sleep. At Zleep Hotels, fair is fair, so everyone gets an equally large one-person duvet, which is quite regular in Scandinavia, but for other nationalities this can be odd (e.g. for Americans) as they are used to twin- or queen-sized blankets at hotels. But perhaps they will get a better night’s sleep when they are on vacation here in Scandinavia?

Those were our suggestions to how you can improve your sleep quality. We are aware that not all of them are fit for your lifestyle, and it is not meant to give you a bad conscious. But now you are better equipped to waking up well-rested, because if you only change some of those bad habits, you could potentially see a clear effect on your sleep. At Zleep Hotels, we always want to do everything to make sure you have the right conditions for a good night’s sleep. After all, that is why you have chosen to stay with us. We look forward to welcoming you.