Tips on improving the quality of sleep, including the role of exercise, an organic mattress, air purifying plants, and aromatherapy.
Are you able to easily fall asleep, or do you toss and turn with a racing mind waiting for sleep to happen? I’ve always been able to fall asleep any time and anywhere, and for me, sleep is a non-negotiable. Given the choice between partying late into the night or sleeping, my bed always wins. Always.
My husband is the complete opposite of me in this respect. He has a hard time staying asleep and usually gets up multiple times a night.
For this reason I knew that it fell on me to create a healthy sleeping environment, which included making clean swaps to make our bedroom as sleep-friendly as possible, and implement a routine for better sleep. You, too, can improve your quality sleep with a few simple changes, in addition to adopting healthy sleep habits.
With National Sleep Month around the corner, I thought it was important to discuss a few ways we can improve our sleep habits.
10 Tips for How to Get Better Sleep
1. Create a Routine
As a creature of habit, I wholeheartedly believe having a routine helps your day. Even my dogs know when it’s time for bed. How? Our nightly routine!
This will look different for every family, but developing a healthy routine for bedtime will help your body prepare for sleep. It doesn’t have to be a super complex routine either.
Our bedtime routine starts with dimming or turning off most of the lights in our home. I clean the kitchen after dinner and run the dishwasher. After I let the dogs out for the last time in the evening, I begin my nighttime skincare regimen, while my husband watches TV for a bit.
It’s as simple as that.
2. A Non-Toxic, Certified Organic Mattress
This is an investment I wish we would have made years ago. Unfortunately, most mattresses on the market are still made with toxic chemicals, and these chemicals off-gas (release) for up to 20 years, affecting our health and the quality of air in our homes.
Since the ’60s, most mattresses are made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Since polyurethane foam is a highly flammable petroleum-based material, it must be treated with fire retardant chemicals, many of which have been linked to several health concerns.
Formaldehyde is also commonly used in the manufacturing of mattresses, and has been linked to asthma, allergies, and cancer.
Other health concerns surrounding the toxic chemicals in mattresses include infertility, birth defects, developmental delays, reduced IQ scores and behavioral problems in children, hormone disruption, various forms of cancer, and more.
Since we spend up to 1/3 of our lives sleeping, it only makes sense that we choose a quality mattress based not solely on comfort but also in safety. For that reason, I’m ecstatic to partner with Naturepedic, the creator of customizable certified organic mattresses.
Benefits of a Naturepedic certified organic mattress
Naturepedic organic mattresses are available for the entire family. Their mattresses come in sizes twin to king (including California King), and specially designed organic mattresses for kids, and even organic crib mattresses! I personally saw the crib mattresses in person and the brand immediately won my heart.
In addition to organic mattresses for the entire family, here are some key qualities that sets Naturepedic apart from other “greenwashed” mattress brands:
- No flame retardants or flame retardant barriers
- No polyurethane foam
- No synthetic latex rubber
- No harmful glues or adhesives
- No GMO cotton or other GMO fibers
The casing for all Naturepedic mattresses are made with 100% certified organic non-GMO cotton and 100% organic wool. They are constructed in the USA by workers paid fair wages in a certified organic warehouse. In addition to being GOLS and GOTS certified, Naturepedic also has the prestigious MADE SAFE non-toxic certification which screens for:
- behavioral toxins
- developmental toxins
- endocrine disruptors
- fire retardants
- heavy metals
- high risk pesticides
- reproductive toxins
- toxin solvents
- harmful VOCs
For this reason I am proud to partner with an ethical and responsible company like Naturepedic. I met them at the ShiftCon eco + wellness conference in October 2019 and fell in love with the brand.
In addition to the above, you can choose the firmness level of each layer of the mattress! For the bottom support layer, you can choose from soft or firm coils encased in organic cotton. For the top comfort layer, you can choose from soft or firm micro-coils encased in organic cotton OR breathable organic latex made from certified organic rubber trees.
My husband loves a soft mattress, while I need a firm one to prevent lower back pain. All Naturepedic mattresses size queen and above are customizable for each partner. Since we have adjustable foundations for our king bed in Jacksonville, we went with two twin XLs.
We loved our Naturepedic mattress so much, we had to get a second one for our place in Dallas! We went with a regular king in Dallas, since our adjustable foundation is in Jacksonville. I’m happy to report that we cannot feel the separate layers under the casing!
Even better? Naturepedic offers a 20-year warranty, plus you have up to 90 days to swap out any of the layers inside the mattress. It’s the perfect way to ensure that you have a mattress you love. You can also apply for affordable financing options to ensure healthy, organic sleep in your bedroom.
La La Lisette readers can use code SWEETDREAMS for free ground shipping.
3. Organic Cotton Bedding
Did you know that cotton is one of the world’s dirtiest crops due to the pesticides needed to grow it? If you can’t yet make the investment of an organic mattress, make the switch to certified organic cotton sheets.
Thankfully organic cotton bedsheets are easier to find at many retailers. We also have Naturepedic organic pillows and organic mattress pads in our bedroom, and they are oh so comfortable!
4. Incorporate Movement + Music into Your Day
Ever notice in the movies how the characters listen to music as they get ready? Music helps us wake up and get moving in the morning. Which of course goes hand in hand with exercise.
Not up for music in the morning? Use a natural sound like songbirds. There’s research showing that the sounds of different songbirds can influence our circadian rhythms, since our ancestors lived in environments where they would hear those sounds in the morning.
Exercising early in the mornings helps energize you throughout the day, making it easier for your body to be tired for sleep at night. Although I often exercise at night, I am slowly trying to move my workouts to the mornings.
5. Air Purifying Plants
It’s no secret that our homes have air pollution inside (see tip no. 2). Purifying the air in your bedroom can be as easy as adding 1 or more air purifying plants. Not to mention, they’re also so pretty!
A study by NASA several decades ago proved that adding indoor plants clean the air in our homes. My personal favorites are the Areca palm (shown above) and the snake plant.
6. Increase your Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in our health, and many adults unfortunately are deficient in it. Magnesium helps reduce the amount of cortisol in our bodies, also known as the stress hormone. It also helps relax sore muscles, especially if you lift heavy weights.
This easy way to improve sleep goes hand in hand with creating a bedtime routine. Drawing a hot bath before bed and adding epsom salts is a perfect way to increase your magnesium intake. You can also DIY lavender bath salts for extra relaxation.
7. Aromatherapy with Lavender Essential Oil
Studies on the effects of lavender on sleep have found that inhaling lavender before bed helped participants to fall asleep more easily and enter a deeper state of sleep.
You can use lavender essential oil a few different ways in the bedroom for better sleep:
- diffusing lavender essential oil in a diffuser
- rolling on lavender essential oil with a carrier oil
- spraying lavender essential oil on your pillows and linens
If you go the roller route, try applying lavender on your wrists or the soles of your feet. If you’d like to spray lavender on your linens, try this DIY non-toxic pillow spray recipe.
8. Reducing as Much Light as Possible
Light, whether natural or artificial, disrupts our natural circadian rhythm, the natural phenomenon responsible for us sleeping at night and working during the day. The short-wavelength blue light that is emitted from TVs, computers, and phones also works against our circadian rhythm. This blue light decreases production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
Since I work on my computer all day long, I use blue-light blockers and have also adjusted the color to be on the warmer side. These two things alone have also reduced eye strain. Win-win!
The best ways to reduce light exposure to help increase melatonin production are:
- eliminating electronic device use (at least for 30 minutes before sleep)
- wearing blue-light blocking glasses on electronic devices
- utilizing blackout curtains to block light from the street
- using a sleep mask
I’ve also installed dimmers throughout our Florida home and we use them each and every single day. As soon as dinner is ready, we start dimming our lights, which helps our bodies prepare for sleep by bedtime.
9. Regular Vacuuming + Dusting
Dust is something I try to keep to a minimum in our home. Why? Contrary to what I once thought, it’s not just dead skin cells that make up dust. A 2016 study by researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health found 10 harmful chemicals in 90% of household dust in their samples which fall under these main categories:
- TDCIPP: a carcinogen that is frequently found in furniture, baby products, and other household items
- PHTHALATES: a group of chemicals that have been shown to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity, as well as hormone disruption and respiratory issues
- PHENOLS: can cause reproductive system toxicity and hormone disruption
- FLAME RETARDANTS: known to cause reproductive and nervous system toxicity as well as hormone disruption
- FLUORIDATED CHEMICALS: can cause reproductive system, liver, digestive, nervous system, and developmental toxicity
All the more reason to maintain a clean home!
10. Cold Mist Humidifier
Have you ever woken up to a nosebleed in the middle of the night? Or how about a clogged nose? Modern living, with HVAC and forced heat year round, means the air in our homes is often drier than what’s healthy for our lungs.
To make things worse, the mucus in our noses help catch germs. So if our nasal cavities are too dry, we can actually set ourselves up for the common cold. This is why cold mist humidifiers are recommended by doctors for better sleep, especially in the drier winter air.
Adding moisture back into the air:
- helps keep the respiratory tract moistened and comfortable
- prevents dry nasal passages and throats that can make you more susceptible to infection
- reduces symptoms of asthma and colds or flu (since moist air keeps mucus thin, making it easier to expel)
- decreases the chance of nosebleeds.
Most humidifiers don’t recommend adding essential oils to the units, so leave the aromatherapy to the linen spray or your diffuser (which does not replace the need for a humidifier).
I hope you have found these healthy sleep tips helpful!
Which ones can you implement right away?
Thank you for supporting brands that support La La Lisette. Don’t forget you can use code SWEETDREAMS for free ground shipping on your Naturepedic organic mattress.