Giving your body the rest it needs is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Here’s how Mariel Hemingway creates a soothing sleep sanctuary; plus, simple ideas for a nightly wind-down routine.
“I used to think, ‘well, I meditate, so I don’t need that much sleep,’” says wellness expert and Cambria’s longtime brand ambassador Mariel Hemingway. “But, as I got a little older, I realized how important sleep is to regenerate and repair. It’s when all the good stuff happens in our bodies!” These days, the mother, actress, yoga instructor, author, and filmmaker takes her time off from multitasking more seriously. “I always sleep in a totally dark room,” she says. “Sleeping with light is very hard on the body; so, even in a hotel room, I close the curtains, block any gaps with towels, and cover any lights on a TV or phone.”
This process is part of what Hemingway calls creating a “sacred sleep space.” At home, this begins with the design and décor that fill the space. “Cool colors like blue, gray or white tend to be the most soothing.” Incorporate natural materials like wood and Cambria stone in the surfaces and furnishings, and invest in high-quality natural-fiber bed linens, she says. “They don’t have to be the highest thread count, you just want quality cotton or linen sheets. For me, sleeping on white sheets feels healing.” Wash bed linens at least once a week to remove bacteria and dust mites. And, air out the room with an open window and a fan, if possible.
One thing that isn’t part of a sacred sleep space: technology. “Our house rule is ‘no phones after 8 p.m.,’” she says. “The blue light from phones and computers is really disruptive to biorhythms.”
Finally, Hemingway ends each evening with a mental “day review.” “I go over the day and redo in my mind anything that didn’t go well. Then, I think of how I’ll make the next day really amazing—and focus on that vision as I fall asleep. It’s like programming a computer, and it always works.”
MAKING BETTER BEDTIME STORIES
Seven to nine hours. That’s how much sleep a healthy adult needs each day, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). If you regularly get less, you may be risking a host of health problems, from diabetes to heart disease and depression. To get a better night’s sleep, incorporate these tips from sleep specialist Dr. Camilo Ruiz, DO, FAASM, medical director, Choice Physicians of South Florida, and a spokesperson for the AASM.
CREATE A ROUTINE
Learn to practice good bedtime habits to help your body transition from day to night. Relaxing stretches, a warm bath, a glass of red wine or warm milk with a book (no blue light, please, so put the smart phone, iPad, or Kindle away and turn off the TV), can signal your brain that it’s time to slow down and sleep.
DEDICATE THE BEDROOM
The bedroom is not your office or entertainment room. If you pay bills, talk on the phone, or watch TV in your bedroom, your brain will associate those stimulating activities with the space—thus making your brain’s transition to sleep more difficult.
EAT DINNER EARLY
It normally takes a person about two hours to fully digest a meal. Eating right before bed can cause nocturnal reflux and disrupt sleep quality.
We all know this, but there is science behind the power of all those natural chemicals your body creates. Studies have shown that exercise, particularly moderate-intensity aerobic activities (like walking), helps adults with chronic insomnia fall asleep more quickly, sleep longer, and enjoy better sleep quality.