3 Simple Ways I Improve My Quality of Sleep

posted by Andrea | 08/26/2015
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As many of you know, “sleep” has been a hot topic in the Dekker household for the past 3.5 years… basically since we brought Nora home from the hospital. 🙂

This post shares more about our VERY LONG struggle to get that girl to sleep… but the short version is that we tried everything we could possibly think of, everything our friends and family suggested, everything the doctors suggested, and nothing worked. That girl never slept through the night even once until after her 3rd birthday — and although things are SO much better than they were a year ago, she still often wakes up and comes to find us in the middle of the night.

Simon is a fabulous sleeper and started sleeping through the night at a very early age; but now, with a brand new baby, we’re right back in the routine of waking up multiple times a night.

I can’t complain too much though, because at 6 weeks old, James has already given me a few 5-hour stretches at night. It’s amazing how much more alert and awake I feel when I’ve had a good night of restful sleep. Who would have thought!

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Speaking of “restful sleep”… did you know that OVER HALF of all Americans feel they do not get enough sleep? (source)

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Are you one of them?

Right now, I’m currently one of those Americans who is not getting enough sleep — but that’s mostly because I’m smack in the middle of the crazy newborn phase of life. I know it will pass eventually (hopefully sooner than later!) and then I can get back to a more routine sleeping schedule.

In the meantime, I have 3 super simple ways I improve my QUALITY of sleep… even if I can’t necessarily improve the QUANTITY right now 🙂

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1. I Stay Hydrated:

I realize this might sound overly simple, but that’s the beauty of it. I’ve found that when I’m drinking enough water throughout the day, I sleep SO much better at night.

I shared more about my water-loving journey in this post (including all the benefits I’ve experienced from drinking enough water)… but the bottom line is, when I stay hydrated I feel better, I sleep better, I wake up less groggy, and I don’t wake up in the middle of the night feeling thirsty or with a dry mouth.

Water is so important for me, especially now that I’m nursing again… and it’s such a simple (and free) way to improve my health and my quality of sleep.

2. I Have a Bedtime Routine:

I’m sure many of you have implemented some sort of a bedtime routine with your young children… right? Well, I’m convinced that bedtime routines are a great idea for older children, teens, and adults as well.

If you think about it, the whole purpose of a “routine” is to get in the habit of doing the same thing over and over again until you don’t need to think about it and it just comes naturally. Well, how great would it be to not need to think about falling asleep or getting quality sleep because it just came naturally?

My “bedtime routine” is relatively simple, but it is almost always the same every night. I take a shower, get ready for bed, make my to-do list for the next day, have some sort of a snack, brush my teeth, turn on our fan, and go to bed. Depending on what time it is, Dave and I will sometimes watch a show on Netflix, or just a few minutes of the news before we go to bed.

This process not only gives me time to unwind (especially with a nice hot shower), but it’s also a great opportunity to unplug. I almost always shut down my computer and turn my phone on vibrate before I start my bedtime routine — so I have at least 30 minutes where I’m not looking at a screen or thinking about work-related obligations.

Since I do most of my focused work after the kids are in bed, I think this is an important part of my bedtime routine. I’ve noticed if I don’t step away from my computer for a bit before bed, my head is swirling with ideas for blog posts or thinking of what I need to do the next day.

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3. I Sleep on a Quality Mattress

When we first got married, we purchased an inexpensive mattress that wasn’t necessarily the best quality ever. Then, 2 years ago, we “upgraded” to a much more quality mattress, and I’ve been amazed at how much better we sleep.

I suppose if you consider how many hours you spend sleeping, a quality mattress is probably a pretty good investment!

Some of the top mattresses on the market today are the Sleep Number® mattresses. Nora and I recently had the opportunity to visit one of their stores to learn more about the amazing technology behind their top-of-the-line mattresses. It was so cool for me to learn more about how Sleep Number takes into consideration all the different body types, weights, sleep positions, and various sleep issues (snoring, restless sleep, etc.), and how Sleep Number beds can be adjusted accordingly to give users a higher quality of sleep.

Oh, and for those of you who share a mattress, the Sleep Number bed was named best bed for couples by a leading consumer magazine 🙂

One of the coolest features of Sleep Number beds (at least in my opinion) is their new SleepIQ Technology. It’s available on all Sleep Number beds and provides a simple way to learn more about your sleep (or your child’s sleep). It monitors your sleep and provides information you can use to make adjustments to your Sleep Number setting or daily routine so you can achieve your best possible sleep, night after night!

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We also learned about the new SleepIQ Kids bed when we visited the store. The SleepIQ Kids bed is so innovative, yet so simple, that I’m kicking myself for not knowing more about them when we were having all those issues getting Nora to sleep. Although we did try a couple different mattresses we already had in the house, I can’t help but wonder if the SleepIQ bed would have been the “one thing” that would have finally helped her to sleep!

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Right now, I’m just super thankful that all the little people in our house are sleeping as well as they are — and that Dave and I are able to make QUALITY sleep a priority as much as possible (even if the ideal QUANTITY isn’t there!)

I know that when he starts school in less than 2 weeks, we’ll need to get used to a new sleep routine again, so I’d love to know…

Do you have any simple tips to improve your quality of sleep?

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A big thanks to Sleep Number for sponsoring this post and making it possible for me to provide all my blog content free of charge. My opinions (and love of quality sleep) are 100% my own! Please see my full disclosure policy and contact me with any questions you have.

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26 comments

  1. Deneice

    08/27/2015

    Keeping your chargers and three pronged plugs more than 6 feet away from your head also helps you sleep restfully. The change from AC power to DC power emits a field that disrupts our brain and cells. (Our brains run on electricity, too!)

    We also enjoy diffusing lavender or other calming essential oils to help us rest well.

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  2. Julia

    08/26/2015

    My secret–cool it down. We have our thermostat turned down to a crisp 62 during sleeping hours. My hubby loves it cold ( I think it helps the snoring too!). And I love snuggling in under the down comforter! We program the thermostat to warm back to “normal” temp by the time we arise to get ready for the day. Best. Sleep. Ever.

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    Andrea Reply:

    we keep our house cooler in the winter as well… but what do you do in the summer? Do you turn your AC down that low?

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    Julia Reply:

    Usually to 65 in summer, just so our AC isn’t working quite as hard. Our Nest thermostat makes it easy to do!

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  3. Jane

    08/26/2015

    Thanks for the simple reminders. When my boys were younger the bedtime routine was awesome. Since they have gotten older (10 & 8) it hasn’t gone as smoothly and we have gotten away from it. With the new school year, I think we will try again. And I would like to try my own too!! We bought a SN bed about 8 years ago, we don’t hate it but we don’t love it either. We were so frustrated with paying $800 for mattresses that didn’t last we decided to take the financial plunge and get the SN. It is supposed to last 20 years but time will tell.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I definitely think bedtime routines are helpful at almost any age. Of course, I don’t always stick to mine 100% EVERY SINGLE night… but I try to do roughly the same routine on a regular basis and I really do think it helps me sleep better at night! Good luck getting the kiddos back on a schedule for the school year 🙂

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    Sleep Number (@sleepnumber) Reply:

    Sorry you’re not loving the bed yet, Jane. We’d love to learn more about your situation and see how we can help get you both sleeping better. Just give us a call at 1-800-472-7185 and ask for a Comfort team member if you’d like to see what solutions we can offer. We’re available from 8 AM to 8 PM CT Monday through Friday and from 8:30 to 5 PM CT on Saturday.

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  4. Sara Simpson

    08/26/2015

    My ability to sleep soundly ebbs and flows with my hormones, but I have found three tricks that really make a difference. The first is to eat right. When I overdo it on desserts and other sugars and breads (for several days in a row), my body lets me know it. Second, vigorous exercise helps to wear me out enough to sleep soundly. I believe our bodies were created to move and work, and too many hours of sedentary study is not the type of work that will provide a healthy sleep cycle. The last tends to go against your advice, dear Andrea: it is best for me to NOT make a to-do list at bedtime. When I do that, I find it very hard to turn off my thoughts and relax. I am not always disciplined enough to do so, but when I take time in the early evening to do all the preparation for the next day, then my mind is freed from those concerns and ready to chill!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Sara, part of our evening routine is to prepare everything we can for the following day (so we don’t have to worry about it in the morning). However, for me, my to-do list actually frees my brain to relax because I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything the next day. If I don’t make a list, my mind is running all night long going over everything I need to do so I don’t forget. Crazy how different people’s brains work 🙂

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  5. Rebecca

    08/26/2015

    I need to have a better routine. I always have various things to do after kids go to bed, so it’s not the same each night. And with teens down to preschool kids, the routine is a little different for our family each night depending on after school or sports and such. I liked the comment someone said about their lights dimming on their devices, I need to do that. With the ability to read with few interruptions after kids go to bed, I need a reminder of the time! And I finally convinced my husband we would both sleep better after replacing our old mattress, and I was right! I’m amazed at how much a new mattress has helped! I wake up refreshed instead of still tired. Now just to get to bed earlier….

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  6. Jen

    08/26/2015

    When my son was 11, he found Gentle Whispering ASMR and it put him right to sleep. I didn’t know it was a thing, but it is. https://www.youtube.com/user/GentleWhispering
    You never know what works, right?

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    Andrea Reply:

    interesting!

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  7. Debbie

    08/26/2015

    One of my routine that helps me sleep is eating grapes. I read somewhere that it has melatonin and ever since my hubby and I tried eating grapes 30 minutes before bedtime, and we’ve both experience a very restful sleep. I don’t get to eat it every day but I try to remember to do it as often as I could.

    I’ll also check out the Sleep Number beds when we need to replace our own bed. We looked into it before getting our bed but the price was a little high for a newly married couple like us then. My husband likes a softer mattress and I like a firm one. We compromised and bought a medium firm, which is still soft for me. Then we added a mattress pad because I just wasn’t getting the comfort level that I needed from our bed. So far I’m doing alright with it, but I definitely am looking forward to upgrading. I’m curious if we can still use our current platform bed frame without a box spring for the Sleep Number mattress or have to buy their own brand.

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    Andrea Reply:

    ok… the whole grapes thing is really weird. However, interestingly enough, Nora often eats grapes as part of her bedtime snack. Maybe it’s helping her sleep!

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    Sleep Number (@sleepnumber) Reply:

    Sounds like it could be a great fit for you two. 🙂 You should be able to use your platform bed with one of our mattresses so long as it has a flat, solid, non-slat bottom. Let us know if you have any other questions we can help with!

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  8. Organize 365

    08/26/2015

    I LOVE sleep number! It is on our list to get these for our teenagers. I LOVE all the new features!

    FYI – my son didn’t sleep until 4 and the “out of bed” alert on this sleep number is my number one selling feature!

    🙂
    Lisa

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know, I saw that feature and thought how handy it would be! They have LOTS of cool features!

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    Sleep Number (@sleepnumber) Reply:

    Thanks for love, Organize! Just let us know if we can answer any questions for you in the meantime.

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  9. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip

    08/26/2015

    I love all the pictures with the water bottle. I ALWAYS have my water bottle handy. The only time it’s noticeably absent is first thing in the morning when I’m having coffee.

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  10. Ann

    08/26/2015

    Oh yes!! We have a Sleep Number Bed and absolutely Love it! We got a Queen size years ago & then 9 years ago we bought a King Size Sleep Number bed. My husband and I NEVER want to go “back” to anything else!

    Almost every time we return from a trip, when we go to bed, one of us will comment, “OH this bed is the BEST BED EVER!”

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow… glad to know you’re so please with your mattress! I always love coming home to my bed too… I usually sleep so well the first night back after being gone!

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    Sleep Number (@sleepnumber) Reply:

    So glad you’re loving your bed, Ann! Keep up the great sleep. 🙂

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  11. Ann

    08/26/2015

    As you know, our grandson is one month younger than Nora and has his share of issues. Sleep has been one of those issues. We have succeeded temporarily by trying various things at different points in his life. Today we are celebrating the fact that he stayed (and slept) in his own bed for two nights in a row! Our current strategy is turning off his lava lamp after he has been asleep for several hours. I think the dark helps him stay asleep although he cannot fall asleep without the very bright lava lamp and several night lights on. (The night lights stay on but the big lava lamp gets turned off.) Perhaps it is just coincidence but we are going to keep turning it off when we go to bed until he starts joining us in the middle of the night again!

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    Andrea Reply:

    isn’t it crazy the things that work to get them to sleep. We ended up needing to leave a small lamp on in the hallway outside Nora’s room. We’ve tried turning it off in the middle of the night, and inevitably, she wakes up within 10 minutes of us turning it off every time. So we leave it on ALLLLLL night long and it has been helping a lot. Thankfully, we have a very low watt energy-efficient bulb in that light 🙂

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  12. Kulturschnepfe

    08/26/2015

    Since reaching menopause, I haven’t been sleeping really well.

    I’ve been using the f.lux software on my Mac and Notebook. It reduces the brightness of the screens when the sun sets (or, I believe, you can adjust it to your own time settings). I get tired at a decent time in the evening now and it’s far easier to fall asleep instead of staying awake with all systems on go until late at night. So yes, that has been a great help to me.

    https://justgetflux.com/

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for sharing! I can definitely see how this could be very helpful for many people!

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