Sleep is a huge part of our wellbeing. It takes up a third of our life!
I've always toyed with different ways to get a better sleep. I've tried falling asleep with the TV on, dosing off with earphones in, or trying room sprays packed with chemicals. I grew more aware that not only was keeping these devices on all night bad for the environment, but also the sprays and items I was using were not good for me either.
After extensive research and many tried and tested ways to gain a more natural, good quality sleep, here's 8 great ways to help improve your sleep quality, while being kind to the planet.
Exercise tires the body naturally. Getting some fresh air and exercise throughout the day has proven to help sleep patterns. Exercising outdoors in the morning also helps regulate the body clock, with the bright light telling the body that it's morning. This helps settle your body into a rhythm that will help with sleeping patterns.
Be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime, as this can decrease REM sleep as well as an increased heart rate and body temperature. Reports show that morning exercise is best for sleep regulation.
2. Chamomile Tea
Natural, plant-based herbal teas have been proven to improve sleep quality. According to SleepFoundation.org, Chamomile has been used for a number of years to treat sleep issues. It contains Apigenin, which can give off natural sedative effects.
It's important to pick your tea carefully. Many teabags are made with Polypropylene, a micro-plastic that is bad for the environment. If the teabags you are buying are plastic-free, great! But be sure to check if they are sealed with glue. If they are, it can make them non-recyclable and they cannot be composted.
The best teabags for the planet are plastic-free, glue-free, organic and fairtrade. Our suggestion? Buy loose-leaf! No plastic, no glue, no waste.
3. Reduce Energy Consumption
Ditch the habit of falling asleep with the TV or radio on. Leaving these devices on uses up a lot of wasteful energy - Most notably, streaming services! Did you know that a LOT of energy is needed to keep internet data flowing through to these streaming services. Watching programmes via the internet at home is equivalent to having three old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs on!
Our tips: Watching live TV uses less energy. Also, if you are streaming content on a phone, do it over WiFi rather than 3G/4G/5G.
Keeping devices off at night also helps sleep quality. Electronic screens emit blue light that can interrupt our natural sleep patterns. Some devices have Night Mode or Dark Mode, which reduces blue light emissions. If you need to use a device before bed, try this setting out to help you drift off to sleep easier.
4. Keep The Heating Off
SleepAdvisor.org recommends having a cool bedroom for the best night's sleep.
"As night time approaches, our body temperature naturally drops, signalling that it’s time to slow down and get some rest. By keeping your bedroom cooler, you’re reinforcing your body’s natural instinct to sleep. If the room is too hot, it could potentially block that signal and cause it to take longer for you to fall asleep.
Another way that keeping your room cold can improve the quality of your sleep is by stimulating melatonin production. It turns out that rooms with temperatures in the range of 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees Celsius) stimulate the production of melatonin, which encourages sleep."
Switching off the heating an hour or two before bed will allow time for your room to cool down enough for a comfortable night's sleep. Keeping the heating off also saves energy. Globally, heat accounts for nearly half of all energy consumption and 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Save the planet (and your pennies!) by switching the heating off.
5. Optimise Your Bedroom Space
Your bedroom setting is important when it comes to having a good night's sleep. Keeping it clean, tidy and clutter-free can be calming, allowing the perfect setting for bedtime. Warm colours can also help create a more relaxing setting. Avoid having a cramped area - A fresh, clean space is best.
6. Eco Bedding
Cheap bedding often means unethical and poor materials. Avoid Polyester and Acrylic on labels, as they tend to be the worst fabrics for the environment. Cotton can be ok, but be conscious of dyed materials as this means the manufacturing process has almost definitely lead to water pollution. Opt for organic or recycled cotton, or linen.
Be careful of green-washing. Bedding branded 'Eco Friendly' or 'Plant Based' does not always mean it's good for the planet! Look at who has made the bedding and what materials it's made of. Don't take these eco-tags at face value.
As horrible as it sounds, the more we wash our bedding, the more energy we use. Of course, wash your bedding! But keep it on a cooler, quicker wash if you can.
Candles offer natural, relaxing light which can help you wind down for bed. Keeping electric lights off is also much better for the planet. Naturally scented candles can also help with relaxation - Natural aromas such as lavender can be naturally soothing.
Be sure to opt for candles with NO paraffin! The least toxic wax is beeswax, but if you are looking for a vegan alternative, opt for soy wax. It's important to check exactly what the candle is made of. Make sure the wax and scent base is natural and free from chemicals.
Most importantly, blow out your candle before you go to sleep!
8. Natural Pillow Mists
Pillow mists and sprays are great to help you drift off to sleep. They give off sleep inducing aromas, which help our bodies to produce melatonin (a hormone which promotes restful sleep).
Many pillow mists on the market contain harsh chemicals. It's important to opt for a natural product instead.
Our favourite pillow mist is our Whiteleaf Botanicals natural lavender pillow mist! It's a great natural alternative to fragrance-based pillow sprays that really does work.
From Whiteleaf Botanicals:
"A few years ago, I was bought a pillow spray from a leading retailer due to problems with my sleep pattern. While I found the scent to be calming, I was conscious of the impact the ingredients would have on my body. Following extensive research, I discovered the health problems linked to the use of fragrance oils and other ingredients contained in popular pillow sprays."
A good night’s sleep shouldn’t compromise your health. Opt for a pillow mist that's vegan, fragrance free and paraben free.