You turn out the lights to go to bed and, as if on schedule, your phone leaps to life with a new notification.
These little moments happen hundreds of thousands of times across the United States each night, and every time your screen lights up you’re losing precious minutes of sleep. But, scientists and sleep experts say, it’s not just our addiction to electronics that’s affecting our sleep.
What we eat, how much we exercise and what we choose to let in our bedroom play significant roles in the amount of slumber we get each night. And when we don’t sleep, we suffer.
Sugar is your enemy
In January of 2016, Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge and a team of researchers at Columbia University released a study indicating that sugar consumption affects the quality of sleep.
She also discovered that the amount of fiber and fats you eat during the day also influences how deeply you snooze.
“Low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals,” the American Academy of Sleep Medicine wrote in a press release about the study. “Diet could be useful in the management of sleep disorders but this needs to be tested.”
Other studies have pushed food-specific “cures” for sleep, including a 2009 study about CherryPharm tart cherry juice. The study seemed to indicate CherryPharm’s tart cherry juice could help older adults with insomnia sleep better.
However, those results are somewhat dubious because, as the journal abstract points out, CherryPharm funded the study.
Working out is your friend
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), a leader in bringing the latest sleep research to Americans, has long been a proponent of including exercise in your daily routine.
While they can’t pinpoint why exercise tends to help insomniacs sleep better, the results are consistent.
“Of the handful of studies that have been performed, they suggest that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia,” the NSF wrote. “The only study that looked at the effects of a single exercise session found that a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep.”
Your bedroom environment matters
Dr. Charles Czeisler, a sleep expert at Harvard Medical School, talked with NBC Nightly News for a 2015 article on sleep.
Czeisler said one of the greatest inhibitors of sleep is our habit of allowing electronics into the bedroom. When our brains sense the blue light glowing from our phones and tablets, it’s perception of night and day becomes blurred.
“The big problem with light exposure that we get from electronics is that it is delaying what our brain interprets as sunset,” Czeisler told NBC.
Experts also say the quality of your mattress affects the quality of your sleep. A 2016 article from The Huffington Post noted that most mattresses deteriorate after about seven years, leaving its owners to struggle for good sleep.
However, emerging mattress startups like Somtex are using the latest research to create durable mattresses that support the body’s contours and provide cool, comfortable sleep.
Somtex’smattress employs something called “hex-cell” cushioning, a research-driven material that provides a soothing sleep surface. The mattresses mid- and base-layers feature supportive memory foam to promote positive sleep posture Somtex also features a line of pillows that use cryocooled gel to maintain comfortable ambient temperature and promote deep, restful sleep.
Sound sleep is critical to your health and well-being, and a few simple fixes – from diet and exercise to the right mattress – can have a tremendous impact on sleep quality. Relax, fall asleep, stay asleep, and get better sleep so that you wake up refreshed and alert.