*Just a quick heads up – this post will be based round sleep and how to optimise it. However, there will be a large section on the Leesa mattress.*
This is is because the folks at Leesa were kind enough to send me one of their mattresses to try out, which means I will be giving my unbiased opinion on it within the article.
Now the boring stuff is out the way, let’s get stuck in.
Let’s talk about sleep.
Sleep is one of (if not THE) most important factors for maintaining optimal levels of wellbeing throughout your life.
Really, you should be aiming for at least 7 hours per night of top quality sleep. If you can get 8 or 9 then that’s even better. You may want to avoid those marathon 10, 11 or even 12 hours sleeping sessions as these may be linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
The benefits of sleep
There are probably hundreds of benefits to sleep but, for the purpose of this article, I’ll give you the cream of the crop.
These benefits are all backed by mountains of research and will all help you to live a healthy, happy and long life.
I wish someone had sat me down and told me this when I was in school.
Getting top quality sleep at the right dose every night can really boost your cognitive performance. I’ve found that I seem so much sharper when I’ve had a week of proper sleeping and have stuck to a sleep schedule.
I’m sure you have felt this at some point too. Compare a week where your schedule is all over the place, you’re waking up and sleeping at different times every day. Don’t you feel out of sync, groggy and unproductive?
I know I do. And the research is there to back it up. Try and set a schedule for every day if you can and aim to sleep and rise at roughly the same time each day. More on this later.
Lowers diabetes risk
Lack of sleep is actually a super common cause of diabetes in the Western world which I have addressed before. A lack of sleep can be attributed to diabetes and diabetes can be attributed to a lack of sleep.
It can be an extremely vicious cycle.
Luckily, by improving your sleep you can combat this. I recommend getting your blood sugar down by not eating or drinking an hour before bed. This will hopefully stop any unnecessary bathroom trips during the night and improve your sleep quality tenfold.
This may not be the best course of action for those who are already diabetic but for those who want to lower their diabetes risk then this should definitely be considered.
You’re damn right.
Wanna live longer? Sleep properly.
Research from New York has found that sleeping too little or too much has been shown to increase your risk of all-cause mortality. If this doesn’t reiterate the need for optimal sleep of between 7-9 hours then I don’t know what will.
One often overlooked benefit of getting sufficient, quality sleep is that it lowers inflammation in the body. This is absolutely perfect for those who are into working out.
Lowered inflammation makes it easier to perform at a higher level consistently, meaning sleep may just be the key to gains – but we already knew that.
Balance mental health
This coincides with waking up early, but getting quality sleep paired with waking up earlier has been strongly correlated with lowered depression, anxiety and overall mental health issues.
Having studied this at length during my time in university, I can vouch for the mountains of research backing this up. If you then add exercise and healthier diet choices into the mix, you’ve got a strong cocktail for balancing your mind as well as your body.
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Why your mattress matters
Your mattress matters.
Whether you like it or not, that’s a fact.
The mattress is the focal point of any bedroom, it’s the main attraction. You should only be in your bedroom to sleep, so really, the mattress truly is all that matters.
You will spend the majority of your time on your mattress whilst asleep so you better make it a bloody good one. I see so many people who have mattresses that are 15 years old, springs popping out, discoloured and lumpy.
I have genuinely seen this by the way – I used to work for a lettings agency and would see this all the time when clearing out apartments.
Most people really don’t have any pride in where they sleep. If you don’t nail the basics then how on Earth do you expect to excel at your sleeping game? Covering an awful mattress with nice looking sheets isn’t going to fix the issue. As the saying goes – you can’t polish a turd.
My mattress upgrade experience
This leads me onto my own experience.
You know that your mattress matters, so let’s talk about my new mattress and why it convinced me to open my eyes to just how important that big ol’ thing you sleep on is.
My old mattress was fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But when Leesa got in touch and asked me if I wanted to review their offering, I didn’t think twice.
If there’s anything out there that can add to overall wellbeing – it’s sleep. And since I pride myself on being at the forefront when it comes to new and interesting ways to improve wellbeing, I thought ‘why not?’.
The first night of trying the Leesa mattress, I was sold. You sink really low if you sit on it which was a bit weird but once you lie down, your weight is distributed evenly and you get into a perfect sleeping position in seconds.
It felt different from the off and I later found out that the technology that Leesa employ was the reason behind this. But that first night was absolutely unreal. I woke up feeling like a new man and that’s no exaggeration.
It didn’t change my life but it did rejuvenate a very tired man – you can’t say fairer than that.
I then tested the mattress for an entire month in the lead up to this article and I can say hand on heart that this is the best mattress I’ve had the pleasure of sleeping on.
I’ve slept on a multitude of couches & floors in my time so I wouldn’t exactly call myself a mattress connoisseur but I can tell when something is of a different gravy – and this really was.
Are Leesa legit?
If you don’t trust me then they offer a 100 night guarantee so if you don’t like it, you can just send it back for free and net yourself a full refund. BUT, I bet you won’t be sending this bad boy back once you experience that first night bliss.
What I like about Leesa is that they aren’t out here making any bold claims, they just say their mattress is of a fantastic quality and that you can try it risk-free. They also offer a whopping 10-year warranty so they’re not trying to pull a quick one with your hard earned cash.
There’s no frills, no fanfare and no false claims. It just works and I’m all for it. I’ve always been a fan of companies who aren’t up in your face and these guys have taken it to a whole other level.
Maybe we’re seeing the birth of ‘laid back advertising’. You saw it here first, don’t forget that.
I won’t pretend to understand the tech behind the Leesa mattress but apparently it’s pretty simple. Companies have been adding all sorts of weird gizmos and innovation into mattresses for years now.
After taking a look at this, Leesa decided to simply do away with it and build a mattress that has 3 simple foam layer components.
The top layer acts as a coolant by improving airflow and allowing for ease of movement whilst the other two layers allow for core support and pressure relief. These act in unison to give the perfect night’s sleep. Sounds better than some mad contraption on Price Drop TV doesn’t it?
It’s also perfect for couples as the mattress has virtually no motion transfer – meaning that it adapts to whatever is on top of that specific area.
This basically means that you and your partner can be of very different shapes and sizes but still both get the perfect position, because the mattress will adjust to you specifically.
Finally, this may be overlooked by some but I believe it is the hallmark of a quality company – every mattress is manufactured right here in the UK. No dodgy proprietary material blends. Everything is transparent, honest and quality – the traits you should always value when looking for the best product, no matter what it may be.
Something to think about
What really stands out apart from the obvious quality of the product is the ethos of Leesa as a whole. They have three initiatives that I can really get behind: One Ten, One Earth and One community.
There really aren’t many companies out there doing as much for others as Leesa. They donate one mattress for every ten they sell, meaning they are helping people who can’t afford to have such luxuries in their lives.
They also plant one tree for every single mattress they sell AND they donate a large portion of their time and resources to a load of local and national organisations.
They are literally the business version of Ned Flanders – you couldn’t find a nicer company if you tried and believe me, I tried.
If that isn’t enough to convince you that Leesa are the good guys of the mattress world then you can see their initiatives in action here. There’s a reason why they’ve been BCorp certified for meeting the highest possible standards for social and environmental performance.
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How to guarantee the best night’s sleep of your life
You know the benefits of quality sleep and you know why your mattress matters. Now, you need to know how to actually put this knowledge to good use.
Here is how to get the best night’s sleep of your life.
Set a schedule
By setting a schedule, your body gets used to the routine. Once it gets into this rhythm, it will start to cue the release of melatonin when you should be going to sleep and the release of cortisol when you should be waking up.
This helps to give you that boost for sticking to a schedule and will ultimately help you to break the habit of waking up and sleeping at drastically different times every day.
Switch your phone off
Do this an hour before you go to bed. Blue light can trick the body into thinking it is still daylight outside, thus halting the triggering of melatonin secretion.
This is why it’s so hard to get to sleep straight after you’ve been on your phone or watching TV. By avoiding screens for the last hour of the day, you help to get your body in wind-down mode, meaning you’ll slip off to sleep far easier than if you had been gawping at the TV right up until you hit the sack.
I can’t recommend picking up a good book enough. Reading some fiction or non-fiction can really relax the mind and allows you to achieve an almost meditative-like state.
You can also pick up some great ideas and add to your vocabulary as you go. I find that reading really expands my mind but it’s also perfect for taking my mind off anything that is going on in my life that may be affecting sleep.
You’ve likely heard of foam rolling and how it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Well, everyone’s right. The practice of foam rolling allows you to relax all of your tense muscles and helps to get you in a zen state before hitting the hay.
I like to work on my lower back and stomach as these are areas that can really affect sleep if they are sore or tight. By getting these areas in good condition before sleeping, you’re far less likely to wake up during the night – meaning better quality sleep.
Perfect for waking you up and perfect for sending you to sleep – the cold shower is the Swiss army knife of hygiene.
Your body has to be cool in order to go to sleep properly. That’s why it’s optimal to sleep in a colder room. By having a hot bath or shower, you heat your body up.
This means that your body then has to expend energy cooling you down, which takes time. This time means you’re going to be awake longer, get agitated and stress yourself out that you can’t get to sleep.
By taking a cold shower, you do the work for the body. You’re already at optimal temperature, meaning you can drift straight off to sleep.
This is a bit novel but I know so many people that swear by pillow spray.
Give your pillow a light spray and let it sit for a while whilst you do the next step on the list.
This will allow the spray to work its magic, releasing relaxing aromas ready for when you dump your handsome mug on it in a few minutes.
You should be meditating at least once a day in the morning, but if you can bring yourself to do some mindful breathing just before going to bed, then you will really see a difference in your sleep quality.
Try to do 40-50 mindful breaths, counting each as you go. This will help to clear your mind and get you in a relaxed state – which is vital to getting off to sleep quickly.
No one wants to be stuck in a continuous loop of pointless thoughts – that is what keeps most of us up at night. Meditating prevents this by lowering your stress levels and thus cortisol, meaning you won’t feel over-alert and you can take back control of your thoughts.
The final step and undoubtedly the cherry on top.
You need to get comfortable if you’re going to drift off with ease. This means finding the perfect position – I recommend lying on your side with a pillow between or under your knees. This maintains the curve of the lower back and doesn’t restrict breathing in any way.
You want to make sure that your mattress and pillows are of the highest quality too. There’s no point doing all these steps if you’re going to scrimp out on the bread and butter of sleepwear. Invest in your mattress, pillows and bedding and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
After performing all of these steps religiously, your sleep will improve markedly. If you actually put the relevant steps in, you will have the best sleep of your life, every single night.
The only thing you then have to master now is being consistent…
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How to be consistent
These are the 4 keys to being consistent with your sleep journey. Once you master these, everything becomes easy. All you have to do to achieve great things is take small actions consistently.
Hold yourself accountable
You HAVE to hold yourself accountable for your actions. If you stay up ’til 2am binge watching shows on Netflix, whose fault is it? Yours.
You can’t blame TV or your friends or apps or whatever. Everything you do day in, day out is a choice – a choice that you make, whether that be consciously or subconsciously.
Once you realise this, you then have the power to control your habits. If you know that you want to watch a few episodes of Game of Thrones – try and fit that into normal waking hours. Don’t procrastinate throughout the day and then choose to start watching at 10pm. There’s no need for that.
Be proactive in how you allocate your time, be aware that it is always a choice and hold yourself accountable.
Set a schedule
This is in the same vein as the scheduling technique from above. However, in this instance, we’re talking about a schedule for the whole day.
By having your day planned out (as much as possible), you know what you are doing and when. This means that you are getting everything done that you need to in good time.
By being regimented with your time, you won’t be leaving tasks that should have been done last week until the very last minute and you can instead focus on relaxing when you get home.
This will take your mind off pressing tasks as you know that there is scheduled time to complete everything and you can become truly present, appreciating the moment.
This organisation-induced relaxation will help you to stay on track with your sleep schedule every day and stop your body from producing too much cortisol. Easy.
Stay away from your room
Your room should be reserved for sleeping.
If you spend all your time in your room then your mind stops associating the bedroom with sleep and will dampen the release of melatonin. This means that you will find it hard to switch off and relax when you do try to go to bed as your body thinks you’re still out and about.
If this sounds pseudoscience-y to you then you can check out some actual research into the topic here.
Basically, try and spend as little time as possible in your room and you’ll sleep better, I promise ya.
When you invest in something, it always adds more value to what you’re doing. Let me explain.
When you’re playing football, you always want to play better in new football boots to justify the purchase. Same goes for the gym – if you’ve just bought a shiny new membership, you want to use it and reap the rewards to justify it.
Now apply that to your sleep. If you invest in a top quality mattress, pillows, sheets, sprays, books, etc then you’re damn well going to want to optimise your sleep.
You’re not going to just give up if you’ve thrown a heap of money at your sleepy endeavours are you? Invest, put something on the line and I guarantee you’ll increase your motivation for success in no time at all.
If you want to upgrade your mattress then give this link a click and use the code ‘THEMANBLUEPRINT‘ for £100 off.