The Secret to Better Performance? Restful Sleep.
Quality shut-eye could provide the training boost you've been looking for. Here's how to get more of it—naturally.
You know that million-dollar feeling you get only after a restful night’s sleep? It shouldn’t be a rare occurrence, especially given how the benefits of high-quality sleep ripple out across all aspects of life. Sleep not only helps your body recover—it’s also a surefire performance booster. But if you’re like us, you likely haven’t factored sleep into your training the same way you’ve focused on dialing in your gear or nutrition. But you definitely ought to, says W. Chris Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution. “There are few areas of athletic performance not impacted by sleep, or lack thereof,” he says. So if you want to take your outdoor adventures to the next level, building a long-term pattern of healthy, restorative sleep could be the ticket—and it’s easier than you might think.
Set the Tone
Like a perfect date, a great night’s sleep depends on the right setting. “You want to create an environment that’s inviting, that will make you want to forgo that television show for getting to bed,” says Winter. Part of that sleep-enhancing environment is the temperature you keep your room. “Most people do best in the 65-degree range,” says Winter, who emphasizes that everybody is different, so some amount of thermostat tinkering will be required. Another easily controllable element is how you light your bedroom. Look for specially designed sleep-friendly LEDs—dimmable, lower-watt bulbs with the kind of warm, diffuse light profile the National Sleep Foundation recommends. Red bulbs are even more conducive to sleep…if you can stomach their nontraditional hue.
Pick the Right Bedding
As with running shoes or hiking boots, there are certain performance characteristics you should look for in your home sleep system. “You want a mattress that is comfortable and doesn’t affect your temperature,” says Winter. “It should draw you in.” Look for options, like Avocado’s Organic Mattress, that are made with natural fibers such as wool and cotton, which are breathable and offer top-notch thermoregulatory properties, keeping you warm in winter and cool in the summer by wicking away moisture better than synthetics. Of course, how the mattress is constructed is equally important, and Avocado’s is needle-tufted by hand here in America, with a hybrid design of independent coils broken down into five strategic support zones to help reduce motion transfer, keep your back aligned, and alleviate pressure points.
Keep Things Fresh
If you’ve ever repainted a room in your home, you probably know to look for paint that’s free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gasses the EPA has linked to an array of short- and long-term ill-health effects. But did you know that furniture and mattresses can also be big-time emitters of VOCs? To avoid inhaling these nasty fumes every night, choose products like Avocado’s range of mattresses and pillows, which are made with GOTS-certified organic wool, cotton and, latex, and are MADE SAFE-certified non-toxic and Greenguard Gold-certified for low emissions. Avocado’s reclaimed-wood bed frames and end tables are easy on the lungs, too, thanks to their zero-VOC finish.
Turn Off the Screens
The blue hues of light emitted by phone, TV, and computer screens have been shown to rob your body of melatonin, the sleep hormone—ultimately making it more difficult to fall asleep. A best practice, according to Winter, is to avoid blue light altogether in the hour or so ahead of bedtime. “This means no screens in the bedroom,” he says. If you really struggle with reeling in screen time at night, consider a pair of blue-light-reducing glasses, which many of Winter’s clients have adopted.
In addition to screens, try controlling other light sources as well. “There should be minimal to no light coming into the room,” says Winter, so blackout curtains might make a big difference when it comes to logging high-quality, uninterrupted sleep.
Learn to Let Go
One part of a sleep regimen that can be particularly challenging is recognizing what you can and can’t control. “There’s definitely a mental aspect to this,” says Winter. “When an athlete feels the pressure to sleep well, he or she can develop anxiety around it.”
Many of the professional teams and coaches Winter works with have taken note of this and, instead of telling their athletes to get some sleep, they instruct them to rest. But you don’t need to be an elite athlete to benefit from Winter’s advice. “It’s hard to fail at rest. You can go lie flat, relax, and close your eyes. If you realize it doesn’t have to be sleep, you remove the anxiety. Odds are, you will sleep anyhow.”
The Final Touches
Finally, Winter recommends establishing a bedtime routine that will signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. “The smell of lavender can help,” he says. “Consider spraying your room or bedding with it just prior to sleep.”
The nice thing about a routine like this is that it can serve as a sleep trigger even when you’re not in your own bed. “Pay attention to the details that allow you to drift off,” Winter says. “If it’s lavender, for instance, then bring that with you when you travel. You want to be motivated to get to bed.”
At Avocado Green Mattress, they value time spent outdoors. They also know that, according to EPA reports, most of us spend 90 percent of our time indoors—exactly why their mission is so important. Their pursuit is to be the most respected source for organic mattresses and pillows at affordable prices while maintaining environmentally conscious, ethical, and sustainable business practices. Better for you and the planet.