There’s sleep, and then there’s good sleep. Anyone who has woken up tired after a full night’s sleep understands the two are not the same thing. Quality, restorative sleep is both a gift and a necessity.
Sleep, although a seemingly simple act, is actually a complex process. What is restorative sleep? And what are the risks when you don’t get enough? In honor of tomorrow – World Sleep Day – Naturepedic is helping to spread awareness about the relationship between sleep and health (both physical and mental.)
This year’s World Sleep Day theme is “Sleep is Essential for Health,” and we couldn’t agree more! At Naturepedic, we'd like to take it even further and say that HEALTHY sleep is essential for your health. Whether it’s through helping you better understand your body’s sleep cues, upgrading your sleep environment to include an organic mattress and bedding, or simply sharing bedtime tips, we want to help you get the most out of your sleep each night.
What Is Healthy Sleep?
Not all sleep is created equal. Like we said, just because you slept, doesn’t mean you slept well. Healthy sleep has to do with the duration, continuity and timing of your sleep.
Duration is easy enough – for adults, the recommended amount of sleep each night is between 7 and 8 hours. Continuity and timing get a little trickier to understand and manage. Essentially, you want uninterrupted sleep and you want to listen to your body’s and the Earth’s natural sleep cues to optimize your sleep.
Your sleep cycle includes different phases: light sleep, deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. When you sleep, you cycle through these phases, effectively restoring your mind and body. A big part of healthy, restorative sleep depends on getting enough hours of sleep each night with enough time spent in each phase of the sleep cycle.
You’ll have a much better chance of effectively doing this if you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed at relatively the same time each night and rising at the same time each morning – preferably with the sun.
Ah, yes – the sun. This is why the timing of your sleep within the day is also important. Your circadian rhythm receives cues from light and the environment. Light (or lack thereof) has the power to trigger processes in the body, like melatonin production, that makes you feel sleepy.
Healthier Sleep Means a Healthier Mattress, Too
When it comes to getting restorative sleep, your sleep environment matters – a lot. People often think of a healthy sleep environment as a bedroom room that is kept clean, cool, dark and quiet. Maybe you add a white noise machine or some calming lavender essential oils. These all help promote sleep, but there’s more to it.
Healthy sleep really begins with what you’re sleeping on – your mattress! Conventional (AKA non-organic) mattresses unfortunately contain a slew of substances known to cause harm to your health. From endocrine disruptors to carcinogens to chemicals that lead to neurological disorders and more, conventional mattresses do not align with healthy sleep.
So what are these scary mattress materials? It varies, but some common offenders include chemical flame retardants, harmful VOCs, formaldehyde, GMOs, fiberglass and more. Not to mention that polyurethane foam mattresses, like those made of memory foam, are akin to sleeping on 20 gallons of petroleum! They make you feel hot and sweaty, too, which disrupts your sleep.
How Can You Tell if a Mattress Is Made Without These Chemicals?
The best way to avoid sleeping on toxic chemicals is to look for a mattress that meets trusted third-party standards like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic and MADE SAFE® certified non-toxic. All Naturepedic organic mattresses meet these standards and we even exceed them in some ways – for, instance we say NO to flame retardants even when GOTS allows some. See our full list of certifications here.
Plus, we have customizable organic mattresses that allow you to adjust firmness and support on each side of the bed. Because let’s face it, comfort is a BIG part of healthy sleep, too!
Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation
So, what happens when you don’t get the healthy sleep you need? It’s not just about feeling groggy. Lack of sleep can take a toll on your health. Even a few nights of poor sleep can can tank your immune system and impair your cognitive function. Serious health risks of long-term sleep deprivation include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease
- Hormone disruption
Sleep Supports Your Mental Health, Too
Because sleep is essential to your central nervous system, lack of sleep can disrupt how your body typically sends and processes information. This can interfere with your career, personal relationships and family life. Long-term sleep deprivation can negatively impact your mental health and lead to:
- Mood swings
Sleep deprivation can even lead to hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is ensure you’re receiving quality, restorative sleep each night.
5 More Tips for Healthy Sleep
If you’ve already made improvements to your sleep environment and your mattress, here are some other helpful tips you can incorporate to better your chances of receiving healthy sleep.
- Stick to a schedule – Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and rising at the same time each morning.
- Soak up natural light – Try to receive at least twenty minutes of sunlight each day. The earlier the better! Going for a walk or enjoying your breakfast outside can make are great options.
- Limit caffeine – Avoid excessive caffeine consumption and try to refrain from drinking any past noon.
- Get physical – Make sure you’re getting enough physical activity each day but not in the evening hours or close to bedtime.
- Avoid electronics – Reduce your exposure to blue light before bed by avoiding artificial light from electronics. Try incorporating blue light blocking glasses or switching your indoor lighting to amber bulbs once the sun goes down.
It’s clear that sleep and health go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other! For this reason, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating World Sleep Day by stepping up your commitment to Safe Healthy Sleep™.