I’ve been a great sleeper for as long as I can remember. Whether it was snoozing on bumpy car rides, through typhoons and thunderstorms, on barely-there mattresses or upright in an armchair, my easy dream state made me the dream child of any young parent. One of my most consistent skills was being able to dive into a deep slumber on command and wake up completely refreshed. With insomnia being prevalent in my family, I have always valued the power – and luxury – of good sleep and I count my blessings to have escaped this genetic disorder relatively unscathed.
So in 2019, with decades of good sleep under my belt and a passion for universal self-care, I embarked on the journey of creating SoL, a modern SelfWear™ collection that aims to inspire women to reprioritize wellness and self-sustainability through good rest and great sleep. But nothing fully prepares you for the transition from a structured corporate job to the uncertainties of building your own brand from scratch. My powers of sleep were suddenly – poof – gone, just when I needed them the most. My stress got the upper hand and it became a painful reality to go to bed exhausted and wake up feeling much the same, wondering how many cups of coffee it would take to survive the day. I finally woke up to the epiphany that SoL was becoming more draining than inspiring and that I was in danger of becoming a misaligned self-care advocate who does not practice what she preaches.
After an unsuccessful nine months of trying to rediscover my circadian mojo, I decided to confront my sleeplessness head-on. I turned to the convenience of modern technology in the form of a sleep tracker. The Oura Ring is worn during sleep and designed to measure key body metrics which it combines into a simple daily score, allowing me to quantify and track my quality of sleep. For one month, I diligently recorded hours slept, sleep stages and fluctuations in heart rate, body temperature, and the corresponding sleep score.
The results are simple:
- My quality of sleep is better when I sleep before midnight, regardless of when I wake up
- As a naturally hot sleeper, a cool room temperature and sleep sets in natural materials are my best friends
- 1-2 glasses of wine do not impact my sleep quality as long as I go to bed with 1-2 glasses of water
- Screen time up to the very last minute before bed always leads to a low sleep score
- Restfulness is the highest on the weekends when I wake up naturally
Researchers will tell you that sleep is critical to physical and mental development, strong immunity, memory consolidation, learning efficiency and our overall psychological state (read: mood). These are benefits I can relate to and as a leading authority on my own sleep, I can tell you my anecdotal Oura research tells me the same.
Co-founder and editor in chief of Huffington Post and sleep advocate Arianna Huffington aptly elaborates in her books how society stigmatises sleep and rest as signs of laziness, a lack of motivation or ambition. The phrases “you snooze, you lose”, or “you can sleep when you’re dead” catch on and life becomes a competition of who can accomplish the most on the least amount of sleep. The reality looks more like this to me – the better you sleep, the more awareness and control you have which leads you to doing the things you love to do even better. Unlike most things in life, sleep requires both quantity and quality. However, like most things, you get better with practice. After one month of sleep tracking and another month of adjusting my sleep rituals, I’ve begun to regain and repurpose my lost powers of sleep.
I took it upon myself to improve my sleep because I passionately subscribe to the regenerative powers of rest and highly recommend everyone to prioritize the ritual of sleep. Everyone’s body behaves differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all prescription to restorative sleep. My hope is that sharing my journey and a few simple steps might inspire you to explore your own approach.
- Be Early – Sleep early and rise early. The most effective and restorative deep sleep happens between 8pm-12am.
- Quantity & Quality – But also consistency. Sleeping 10 hours after an all-nighter does not make up for lost time.
- Body Clock – Lose the alarm when you can and let your body clock wake you up naturally.
- Compartmentalize – Keep the bedroom for restful and rejuvenating activities (that means no emails in bed).
- Set the Intention – Establish your wind down rituals. A hot shower, a cool bedroom, a well-made bed, sleep-inducing essential oils and a silenced phone placed beyond reach are good places to start.
- Sleepwear – Science shows that changing into dedicated pajamas signals your body that it is time for bed and alerts it to start the wind-down process.
So give it a try – commit to great sleep and get a good night’s rest. It can be eye-opening.
CreditLead image: Camilla Warburton