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Tips for Better, More Natural Sleep

Jun 26, 2014 07:13PM ● By Brett Saul

With today’s busy lifestyles, falling asleep and maintaining a quality, deep sleep may seem like an impossible feat. Fortunately, researchers have come up with some great advice for achieving the sleep of our dreams.

Creating a good sleeping environment is very important. Make the bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. This is a cue to the brain that it is time to go to sleep. Keep the bedroom cool and ventilated. Sleeping on a quality mattress with natural bedding will also help. Many new mattresses are full of chemicals that can off-gas and keep us up at night. Not only is the smell distracting when trying to relax, but the chemical exposure itself can be harmful. Some people experience headaches and other physical ailments from synthetic materials. Sleeping on an all-natural, organic mattress and surrounding ourself with bedding made of natural fibers like bamboo, cotton and wool will provide a safe, cool and breathable sleep environment.

The mattress should conform to the natural shape of our body. If a mattress is too firm, it will cause pressure points and discomfort, especially for side-sleepers. Mattress springs create more pressure as bodyweight is applied when sleeping. This can be uncomfortable for many people and cause tossing and turning throughout the night. In this situation, a soft pillow top can make an innerspring mattress more comfortable.

A mattress made of solid natural latex rubber will provide more even support and cause fewer pressure points. It naturally conforms to the body, is more breathable and will last twice as long as a typical innerspring mattress. Most of these mattresses also have wool quilted into the cotton cover, creating a cooler surface to sleep on. Natural latex and wool also naturally repel dust mites. 

The hours we sleep are also important. Our bodies have an internal clock that will tell us when it is time to go to sleep. Early morning sunlight is a great wake-up call, and getting a few minutes of sun around noontime will give us a natural blast of vitamin D. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help set our internal clock.

Electronic stimulation is the modern problem causing poor sleep. Many people view large television screens, as well as computers, tablets and smartphones just before going to bed. The light stimulates the brain and can make it difficult to fall asleep. Try to relax just before bed by reading a book or listening to music instead of staring at electronics.

Exercise is a great way to help fall asleep fast and sleep soundly. Experts suggest we don’t exercise within three hours of going to bed. Instead, exercise early in the day. Our body secretes a hormone that helps activate the alerting mechanism in the brain when exercising. An energy boost from activity is great during the day, but not good at night.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, as well as eating a large meal close to bedtime. They all interfere with our ability to sleep well. A good rule is not to consume caffeine within six hours of bedtime. Although alcohol may make us fall asleep quickly, it also lessens the quality of our sleep.

Brett Saul has owned North Shore Bedding for more than 20 years. The showroom is located at 984 Willow Rd., Ste. H, in Northbrook. For more information, call 847-291-6770 or visit