• Sleep is incredibly important, as the very foundation of our physical and mental health relies on it, and we can’t function properly without it.
  • That said, many of us find getting enough sleep difficult; this is due to a range of issues from stress to an uncomfortable environment.
  • Fortunately, we can solve the majority of these issues by taking a few proactive steps, one of which is simply investing in a mattress that promises great sleep quality.
  • Additionally, we should check that the light and sound in our sleep environment aligns with our getting enough quality sleep: keep your room dark and (for the most part) quiet as well.
  • Another thing to consider is what you’re eating and drinking before bedtime, as certain foods and drinks can make sleep difficult.
  • Finally, if you’re still having a hard time sleeping, give mindful meditation a go; instead of running through all of the day’s events, think less stressful thoughts at bedtime.

It often becomes more difficult with age to get a good night’s sleep, but research suggests that if you want to keep aging—and do so happily—you need to make sleep a priority. CNN recently reported that people who get enough sleep, even if just by sleeping late on the weekends, live longer than their insomniac amigos. Sleep is also linked to mental health so get enough of it and you’ll not only have more years, you’ll enjoy them more too!

There’s no question that sleep is linked to mental and physical health but what remains elusive for many is how to get that sleep. Stress, medical conditions, and an uncomfortable environment can all make it hard to rest. Thankfully, there are ways to negate many of these issues…

1) Mattress matters. A mattress set is a big investment and one that offers a huge return in sleep quality. However, it’s not a one-time deal. Most mattress types should be swapped out every seven to 10 years. After five years, bacteria and other organisms can colonize—and thrive—no matter how many times the mattress is cleaned.

Those in the market for a new set should consider the different types of mattresses available. According to Mattress Advisor, hybrid mattresses tend to be the most popular with a satisfaction rate of more than 80 percent. Coil and foam mattresses often stop being supportive after just a few years. The right mattress will provide airflow, keeping the sleeper cool and comfortable along with support for the entire body.

2) Light and sound. There is a reason that people would wake with the sun and go to sleep with the moon before the advent of electricity. The body needs light to stay in motion and darkness to settle down. ResMed explains, “The absence of light sends a critical signal to the body that it is time to rest.” With this in mind, people who have trouble sleeping should take steps to ensure a darkened room. Blackout curtains can help those who live in areas where the sun lingers into night hours. Most experts also recommend ditching electronics, including the phone and TV in the hours before bed since blue light can disrupt circadian rhythm. Sound has an impact on sleep, too. Time asserts that older adults are especially affected by “pink noise,” which can encourage deep and restful slumber.

3) Food and drink. Some foods shouldn’t be consumed in the evening. Burgers, chocolate, and even curry all contain fats, caffeine, or spices that can toss the body’s ability to relax right out the window. Light sleepers should avoid heavy meals and sugary beverages after lunchtime. A light dinner followed by a snack of cherries, bananas or sweet potatoes shouldn’t bog down the body or mind. A note on cherries: They are one of the only foods that contain melatonin, the chemical made by the brain to induce rest and sleep.

4) Mindfulness. Mindfulness is something people of all ages can practice to get a better night’s sleep. Being mindful—in other words, aware, of one’s surroundings, thoughts, and emotions—means taking control of those things. Ethan Green, founder of No Sleepless Nights, says that it’s important to switch the brain from thinking about daytime activities to focusing on less-stressful thoughts. Moving the mind into a calm state can improve the ability to get to sleep, reduce stress, and manage emotions that trigger insomnia before they spiral out of control.

In addition to a potentially extended life, sleep offers benefits that will enhance day-to-day activities. Getting at least seven hours each night leads to:

  • Improved cognition
  • Smoother skin
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Better decision making

From infancy to ages best left unsaid, sleep is an important part of life. Even if it gets harder as the years tick by, getting the right amount of sleep is a goal worth chasing and provides benefits that can lead to a longer, happier life.

*Cheryl Conklin is a freelance writer and tutor by trade and a blogger, adventurer, traveler in her free time. She also created wellnesscentral.info, a place to share her thoughts and great resources on wellness, because she believes one can’t have physical health without mental health and vice versa.*