We spend nearly one-third of our lives in bed. That's about 30,000 nights of rest. Through sleep, we have one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to improve our overall mental health and physical well-being.
"Prioritizing sleep even more so than diet and exercise can significantly improve your life," said cognitive neuroscientist and author Indre Viskontas.
Clinton Montgomery, the district manager and designer at Leesa Sleep, agrees: "Sleep is something that is vital to your health and to your well-being and everybody deserves that," he said. So what does it take to get a good night's rest? Let's explore the art and science of sleep.
The Art of Sleep
From Montgomery's perspective, "There's a lot of simple design choices that you can make that are going to help you to rest better and sleep well. You want to make sure that you know you're using lighting that can be dimmed or that is low. Overhead lighting can be overwhelming in a bedroom.
"Also thinking about your devices, it's important to put your cell phone on night mode — maybe even slip it into the nightstand drawer so that you don't even see it. I think you have to think about turning off all of those elements so that you can truly unplug and relax.
”And even though your eyes are closed, the decor of the room also plays a part. "Drapes are a really important part of the room as well. Not only do they help elevate the space and create a sense of coziness, but they also block out light,” he said. Specifically choosing drapes that have a blackout liner is key because it prevents all light from coming in, and the darker the room is, the better for sleeping. Color is so important, especially in the bedroom. You want to choose colors that set the tone that it's time to relax. It's time to rejuvenate, and so I think choosing colors not just in bedding, but also in warm colors, you know choosing light blues or grays are really helpful."
Bringing things closer to home with Leesa Mattress, Montgomery continues, "Mattresses are so subjective. It's kind of like Goldilocks, and you've got to find the one that's just right for you. And that's why I think that the Leesa mattresses are so great. Memory foam is so key because it does help to contour to your body and relieve pressure and help to support your neck and your back. Selecting a mattress that has a cooling layers, getting sheets that have a cooling element to them, setting their room at the right temperature is key as well."
The Science of Sleep
Viskontas, a cognitive neuroscientist and author provided some valuable insights into the science behind sleep. "During sleep our bodies aren't just resting, our brains are actively cycling through different stages with different functions,” she said. “For example, deep sleep is characterized by slow brain waves. It's also when your brain is clearing out harmful metabolic byproducts of the day's activities and the body tissues are repairing themselves. The REM stage, or rapid eye movement sleep, can give us vivid dreams, but it's also when our brains are sorting out which memories to discard and which to keep.
"For most adults we need about seven to nine hours of sleep to get all the benefits. But kids who don't get 10 to 11 hours can be hyperactive, moody, irritable, impatient and aggressive. They can have trouble paying attention in school and even develop lifelong health problems like obesity and diabetes. And teenagers who sleep past their alarms aren't just being lazy. Their biological clocks have shifted, so it's harder for them to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. If then they have to wake up at 6:00, they're not getting enough sleep.
"But even adults need to think about how our habits might be affecting our sleep quality. Caffeine for most of us has a half-life of about five or six hours, so that 3 p.m. espresso might be keeping you from sleeping deeply, even at 1 a.m. Alcohol and cannabis might get you to fall asleep faster, but they interfere with REM sleep and without enough REM, you're at risk of gaining weight, showing increased information and memory problems.
“Developing good sleep habits means maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, reducing screen time before bed and designing a positive sleep environment."
Everybody Deserves A Deeper Rest
Leesa Mattress believes that deeper rest is a basic human right and everyone should wake up to a morning of fresh possibilities.
"We're committed to giving back," Montgomery said. "As a certified B Corp. that's a really important part of our DNA, making sure that we're not just making a profit but we're also making a difference in the world around us. And so we're committed to donating mattresses to those who really need them. So for every 10 that we sell, we donate a mattress to those in need. We've donated over 33,000 mattresses since we started — to homeless shelters, women's shelters and families in need — and we're focused on helping keep families together."