Help customers resolve to sleep better in 2016
BY LISSA COFFEY
Editor’s note: Savvy mattress retailers want to do everything they can to help their customers sleep better, including offering them sound advice and tips. Feel free to share this great guidance from Better Sleep Council spokeswoman Lissa Coffey with your shoppers (with credit given, of course). The BSC is the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.
We start each new year with the best of intentions, setting goals and resolutions to help better our lives. But, as much as we want to make these changes, somehow our efforts quickly fall apart. According to FranklinCovey, a West Valley City, Utah-based management-training company, 35% of us break our New Year’s resolutions before the end of January. Only 23% of us completely follow through with them.
What are we doing wrong? Well, there are a couple of ways we set ourselves up for failure. First, we have trouble keeping our resolutions because we’re looking at the intended end results without thinking about exactly what it takes to achieve them. If we’re already stressed out, it’s more difficult for us to take control and do what we know we need to do. We end up falling back into old habits. This is where the secret to successful resolutions lies: As Mark Twain said, “A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”
The idea is to develop good habits, so they become something we don’t have to think about—and we reach our goal with ease. We thrive on routine. And a healthy habit frees us up to think about other things instead of straining to have self-control.
Second, we get overly enthusiastic and overcommit. We take on too much when we know we’re busy with everything else we already have going on. Here’s an idea: Try setting just one realistically achievable resolution rather than a handful of them. For example, since we know that a good night’s sleep improves our health, relieves pain, helps us maintain an ideal weight, allows us think more clearly and puts us in a better mood, let’s resolve to sleep better in 2016.
5 resolutions for better sleep
Let’s break down our resolution to sleep better into a handful of manageable sleep habits. We can start with one at a time, and when each becomes second nature, we end up sleeping better without having to try.
1) Set a sleep schedule.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Nature has certain rhythms to it and our bodies do, as well. When we’re in tune with nature, it’s easier on our physiology. We don’t have to struggle to fall asleep or wake up. Ayurveda, the science of life from India, recommends we go to bed by 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. with the rising sun.
2) In the morning, make your bed.
It’s so important that your bedroom be a sanctuary and a place of rest, calm and comfortable. A messy bed isn’t very calming. If you’re feeling any lumps or bumps, or waking up with aches and pains, check out your mattress. A mattress needs to be replaced every five to seven years. It’s an investment in your health, so don’t put it off.
3) During the day, make sure you spend some time in the sun.
Natural light is therapy for us—it helps us to know the difference between day and night so that we know when we’re supposed to sleep. During the dark months of winter when you’re stuck indoors, you might want to invest in a light therapy box that replicates natural light.
4) Eat for sleep.
Your largest meal of the day should be eaten at lunchtime, when digestion is its strongest. Have a light meal for dinner, about three hours before bedtime. In the afternoon and evening hours, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol might make you feel sleepy, but it interrupts your sleep cycle, so you don’t get that good, quality sleep that your body and mind need.
5) Establish a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Rather than going straight from your computer screen to bed, turn off all technology at least an hour before bedtime. Screens, whether a laptop, smartphone or tablet, emit a blue light that stimulates the brain, making it more difficult to get to sleep. You need a break before bed, so listen to some music, read a book, take a bath or enjoy some cuddle time with your honey or your pet.
Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” says, “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” Take it one habit at a time and be gentle with yourself. Soon you’ll find that good sleep comes easily at night, and you’ll reap the rewards all during the day.
Lissa Coffey is a relationship expert, author and broadcast journalist. She writes for eight websites, including Coffeytalk.com, Whatsyourdosha.com and the Better Sleep Council’s site, Bettersleep.org. A BSC spokeswoman, she stars in several videos that offer sleep and mattress-shopping tips for consumers.