Dream on: How to get better sleep
Here’s a thought. If you live to be 90, that’s 32 years of sleep. So if you wake up a lot feeling drained or achy, why not make a change? We scoured our knowledge library and asked our interior designer Emma Parkinson for tips to guide you to better sleep—tonight.
What are your nighttime habits?
“We’re all different, so every person’s routines and needs are individual,” Emma says. “But good habits and a bit of preparation are important parts of quality sleep.” Some thinking is universal—like if you read, surf or watch TV in bed, make sure you have proper pillows for support.
Unexpected wake ups? If you wake up thirsty, keep a glass of water by the bed. If you take trips to the toilet, consider dimmable lights in the bedroom and bathroom that are easy on your eyes.
Do you really relax? Bedtime routines prepare you for sleep. Set an alarm to start winding down. Allow time after exercise for your body temperature to lower properly.
What’s your sleeping style?
“The right mattress and pillow work together to support your spine and remove pressure,” Emma explains. “Your mattress should be big enough for you to stretch and turn, too.”
Side sleepers need a mattress that supports the spine in a neutral position. A firmer, high pillow aligns your head and neck with your spine.
Back sleepers need a mattress that supports the neck and lower spine. A medium height pillow works well without pushing your head forward.
Stomach sleepers need a mattress that provides even support. A low pillow supports your head at the right height and doesn’t strain your neck.
And if you’re not sleeping alone, a foam mattress absorbs movement.
What’s your tidying routine?
“Dust mites, whose excrements can cause allergic reactions, really like damp, warm and dark environments,” Emma says. “The drier and cleaner your mattress and bedding are the better, because it’s harder for mites to survive.” Wait an hour to two before covering your pillows with a bedspread or maybe don’t tidy up your bed at all, so moisture has time to dry out.
Add some greenery. Certain plants, like aloe vera and peace lily, are good air cleaners and can improve air quality for a better sleep. Increased oxygen can be beneficial while sleeping, too.
Treat your feet. A rug by the bed is soft and lets you brush off your feet before you climb in, so your bed stays cleaner and fresher.
What feels good to you?
“Sleep comfort is really personal,” Emma explains. “The materials used in pillows, quilts and mattresses can affect your sleep, especially when it comes to how warm or cold you are.”
Cold at night? Remember that 80% of body heat goes through a quilt. Make sure you have a thick, warm duvet with lots of filling and cosy blankets. Quilts are usually marked with warmth ratings.
Wake up warm? Consider a material like lyocell. Used often in bedding and sometimes as quilt filling, it breathes well and draws away moisture. Linen also absorbs moisture. A sprung mattress circulates air well, too.
And if you have allergies, choose synthetic or man-made materials that can be washed often.
What’s your tune-up timetable?
“Mattresses and bedding need regular care and maintenance, kind of like a car,” Emma says. This means you’ll need to do proper washing and cleaning.
Mind your mattress. Dust and vacuum your mattress regularly, but remember dust and mites will accumulate with age anyway (that’s why we say to change a mattress every 8-10 years). Some mattresses can be flipped or rotated, so they wear more evenly.
Pamper your pillows and bedding. Wash quilts, pillows, bed linen and removable covers and protectors in 60-degree water to kill mites. Then tumble dry on normal heat. Memory foam can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Feathers or down need only a third of detergent.
And last, try these tips. Toss some (clean) tennis balls in the dryer to help keep any filling moving for more efficient drying. Or put your pillow in the freezer for a bit to kill dust mites.
Interior designer: Emma Parkinson
Photographer: Mårten Linton