Sleep has become a downright luxury to some of us during this pandemic. The cause and effect of anxiety on your body take a toll that shatters sleep cycles disrupting your body’s natural rhythm. Mentally, it can interrupt your ability to retain what you learned that day. Physically, it can limit the ability to repair your body, two crucial elements for your overall health. Reaching that REM cycle is one of the best things you can do for your health.
But let’s face it, counting sheep and warm milk isn’t going to cut it. And while drinking a bottle of wine may do the trick, it’s a terrible plan day-to-day. Alcohol is not a way to cope, with anything in life. Make a pact to not self-medicate and seek other solutions. While I’m certainly *not* a sleep expert, I do sleep really well. Like, brag-worthy 8-9 hours pretty much every.single.night. Sorry/not sorry.
While predictable sleep schedules with zero interruptions might not meet your current lifestyle with all of us settling into various lockdowns, perhaps now is the time to make adjustments to your bedtime routine.
CANCEL (COFFEE) CULTURE TO MAKE FOR BETTER SLEEP
Of course, caffeine is a notorious culprit and sleep stealer. Commit to not having any caffeinated beverage after 2 pm. That’s zero diet cokes, no black teas, energy drinks or coffees. Nadda. And if you usually wake in the night to visit the ‘loo, consider not having anything to drink after 9 pm to empty the tank, removing another sleep disrupter from the cycle.
Getting fresh air and exercise can have an immense impact on your sleepiness too, so don’t expect to do a HIIT class and then crash, your body needs time to wind down. Morning workouts are great if you can swing it, but lunch or just before dinner are optimal times too. The mind-body connection is a strong one, exhausting the latter can reinforce your need for sleep and send you off to dreamland in a cinch.
We’re a big fan of weighted blankets. If you haven’t tried one, they are the real deal. Slight pressure on your body can make a tremendous improvement on restlessness and help usher you into a relaxed and ready-for-bed state of mind. Look for blankets that are no more than 10% of your body weight, too much weight is bad for the body’s circulation. If you have sleep apnea or any physical limitations you may want to consider speaking to your health care professional first. Our fave blanket? Pictured above, from Indigo, their best-selling Gravity Blanket in charcoal. From $279.
Pillows are arguably the most crucial component to falling asleep and staying that way. I dislike feathers, too pokey and musty. I prefer the Bio-Soy blend, from Sleep Country. Made with super-sciencey Soyamboo®, the pillows are anti-bacterial and anti-allergic. They’re firm without being hard, and conform to your head, without ever losing their shape. From $179.99 for two.
And what to put on that pillow is almost as important- while PJ’s are a personal option, premium sheets are almost a necessity, a luxury that will last a lifetime. I’m a huge fan of Flax Sleep, a Canadian and female-owned online linen shop that boasts 100% European stonewashed linen for its line of bedding. Linen is one of the world’s oldest textiles, the more you wash it, the softer it feels. Think of it as an investment in your beauty sleep.
The Sheet Set – $310 Queen, $340 King (Colours vary according to size).
With the stage set, you should be ready for slumber, but to ensure a seamless transition to sleep land, spend a few minutes settling into your sheets with a good book. We love a good old-fashioned hardcover, but in modern times perhaps the gentle lull of an audiobook would suit you better, with many titles read to you by your favourite actors. I love Audible.ca’s catalogue of diverse treasures, from Indigenous non-fiction to sleep meditation guides, Audible.ca is available per title or by monthly subscription, prices vary by title.
MORE WAYS TO FALL ASLEEP FAST
Essential oils can also help usher in the zzz’s. Saje Wellness boasts a line of diffusers and scents that infuse powerful plant properties like lavender, valerian and chamomile to bring humidity and natural aromas that can help you relax. Sleepy scents aren’t just for diffusers though, a well-placed and produced candle at your bedside is a lovely addition to any nightstand, I always keep my custom KANDL close by, a mix of botanicals and clean ocean air that is made with all-natural oils and not only smell fantastic but look it too, in their unique frosted glass vessels. Peruse their scents and learn more about this boutique candle shop here.
CBD is being touted as nature’s Ativan, bringing marijuana’s non-psychoactive component to a multitude of products, from food to bath bombs, beers and oils, but your best bet is Medipharm Labs 50 Plus Formula Oil available at ERBN Green. This 1:2 low-dose product can help alleviate worries allowing you to shut your brain down but still wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tomorrow.
HIGH TECH WAYS TO HELP
If you’ve exhausted all the above options and still can’t conjure up some sweet dreams then you’re likely being roused by some form of noise. Whether it’s unrelenting construction or the sawing of logs from your partner next to you, a cheap pair of earplugs might do the trick. If you’re still struggling then it might be time to bring out the big guns. I’ve been singing the praises of this amazing air purifier, which accidentally doubles as a white noise machine. With 6-8 hours resting in one space, you can maximize your clean air intake with the versatile Dyson Pure Humidity+Cool.
Ultraviolet cleanse technology is at the push of a button (on the handy and sleek controller or through their innovative Dyson Link app) and the generous water tank ensures you’re lulled to sleep by the consistent uninterrupted soft whooshing sound from this clean machine. If you’re suffering from COVID anxiety (like who isn’t?) you can rest a bit easier knowing the activated carbon filter and sealed HEPA filter captures up to 99.97% of particle pollutants while you drift off to the gentle whirr and awake to a hygienically sound space. $999.99 from DysonCanada.ca
Document your zzzz count by wearing a Smart Watch. Fitbit or Apple Watch both record your sleep cycles which can help you pinpoint any problems, like when your partner comes to bed, or your dog wakes you up because he barfed (why do they only barf on carpet?) again. If you discover a pattern, you can intervene and hopefully unravel a new sleep-rich existence, boycotting and banishing any sleep-stealers to your past. Let’s leave bleary-red-eyed you firmly in your 2020 past.
Do you have a sleep solution we’ve missed? Leave your dream tips below!
Prices reflect the date of publishing. Please contact retailers directly for the latest prices.
All photos by Libby Roach, except pillows, which are courtesy of Flax Sheep.