The Great Switch Off: Your Biggest Sleep Questions, Answered

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The Great Switch Off: Your Biggest Sleep Questions, Answered featured image
Giampaolo Sgura / Trunk Archive
This article first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

It’s no secret that after a good night’s sleep, our appearance, mood and productivity are significantly enhanced. It’s also no surprise that sleeping well is a feat that can be anything but simple to master. “We lower our risk for long-term consequences such as cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment,” says Dr. Rebecca Robbins, co-author of Sleep for Success! and sleep expert for skin-care line Bynacht. “Sleep is a vital comportment of our lives—a necessary component of our health, well-being and happiness, as well as the overall quality and quantity of our lives. Unfortunately, for many in our global society, sleep is a luxury.”

Q: Why is sleep so important?
Sleep consultant Christine Hansen, CEO of Sleep Like a Boss, is also on a slight push to change that “sleep as a luxury” mindset and get people to start thinking of it as an absolute necessity—one that not only improves our lives, but extends it. Hansen mainly sees clients who “have tried everything else”—sleep studies, supplements, retreats, the works—and are ready for something new. “We basically combine the mind and body to see how we can get stress levels down,” she says. “The secret is about balance, and there’s a science behind that.”

Q: What exactly is the “science of sleep?”
While the exact formula isn’t so uniform, Hansen’s holistic program—she is also a proponent of “throwing out the sleeping pills”—involves a little more than cutting out caffeine. She runs lab tests, including hormone, thyroid, food-sensitivity and gut panels, all with the same goal: to improve one’s relationship with sleep. “I like looking at it like any healthy relationship; it all comes back to how you treat it consistently. People neglect sleep all day and then, at night, they squeeze everything in. That is a lot of pressure. My advice is to look at sleep as starting when you wake up—it ties back to how you think during the day, how you eat during the day and what you do throughout the day. Looking at it that way is a lot more helpful.”

Q: How much does a consistent sleep schedule count for?
A steady sleep schedule might be more commonly associated with a baby’s routine, but it is also imperative for adults. Dr. Robbins says, in addition to having a bedtime routine, her number-one recommendation is to keep a consistent sleep schedule—one that involves falling asleep and waking up as close to the same time Monday to Monday (and, yes, that means weekends). “When we vary our sleep schedule, we’re signaling to our body that we want to change time zones and adapt to a new place. Keeping sleep—especially our wake-ups—as close to the same time will improve our ability to fall asleep.” The National Sleep Foundation backs that move and says doing so will also help you stay asleep.

Q: What is the easiest way to create a bedtime ritual?
All experts we spoke to for this story said a soothing bedtime routine is a critical part of our ability to fall asleep. “While it would be convenient to be able to switch our brains off like a smartphone, sleep is a process, and it takes time,” Dr. Robbins says. She suggests allowing for 10 to 15 minutes to turn off your phone, write in a journal, take a warm shower and do whatever else—like taking a bath or running through your nightly skin-care routine (she likes using products that have sleep-enhancing components like lavender)—might relax you. Dr. Eric Nofzinger, the creator of the Ebb sleep device, the first cooling technology and non-medicinal method to help with sleep, stresses the importance of the “wind-down” portion of the night in helping to “turn off” any hyperactivity in the brain that might interfere with a solid night of rest.

Q: So, just how much are we willing to pay for a good night’s sleep?
While the solutions might seem endless, stats show that between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults have some sort of sleep disorder, which begs the million-dollar question: Just how much are those coveted eight hours worth if not getting them can cause so many issues? Lotte New York Palace thinks they can put a price tag on it: The hotel charges $10,000 a night for a stay in its Hästens Ultimate Sleep Suite, which opened last November. The experience includes a sleep concierge, and it is the only hotel in the world to house this iteration of the Vividus bed, worth $200,000.

Q: And what about the almighty “power nap?”
Of course, options aren’t only limited to hotel stays, or only-at-night rest. The Dreamery by Casper hopes to appeal to the lunchtime crowd and pretty much anyone in need of a “cat nap” with its new nap bar (it’s currently only located in New York, but the brand also has Sleep Shops across the country), where customers pay $25 for a 45-minute session that includes beverages, pajamas, amenities, and a private “pod” for resting. And health-tech brand Philips says 2020 will be its biggest year yet for its SmartSleep suite of solutions that are “dedicated to innovation and the importance of sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

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