Change your relationship with sleep. Our culture tells us that sleeping is lazy, and that we are not being the productive heroes that our society expects us to be. This mentality needs to change because without quality sleep, how can we expect ourselves to achieve our goals, better yet, complete daily tasks efficiently and well?
Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?
In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.
As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Alice Kim.
Alice Kim is the co-founder of Comma Home, a New York City based affordable luxury bedding brand. She and her partner, Henry Chen, decided to build a sleep brand that appeals to millennials, an age group that has been brought up to believe that sleep is a waste of time in a culture that is all about hyper-productivity. Their goal is to bring quality sleep products that look and feel luxurious to young professionals at a fair price, and to help us all enjoy some guilt-free relaxation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?
Growing up in New York City, going to school here, then working here — the fast-paced culture was just always a part of our lives. We’ve always been around a highly energized group of people that carried the mentality that we could “sleep when we’re dead”. It was cool to be sleep deprived. But over time, it was clear this sleepless lifestyle was a sure way to burn out quickly. It was always a goal of ours to create a brand that took things further than utility. We wanted to create a brand with a message — that quality sleep and proper self-care are, in fact, “cool”, and key to long lasting success.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?
I was always interested in creating a brand from the ground up, and my partner, Henry had a particular interest in weighted blankets. He brought the idea to the table, and I found weighted blankets to be an exciting start-off point because I, myself have suffered from restlessness and insomnia. After trying a weighted blanket for myself, I found that I really was able to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. But I felt that I could make better weighted blankets than were available at the time, and for a fair price. They could be constructed better, with better materials, could be made to be washable, and could look much better too. So that’s how we began our journey into the bedding sphere.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
In order to create a sleep and bedding brand, we had to do tons of research into how weighted blankets work and their effects on the brain and body. We were not going to sell a product that was just a gimmick. So in order to make sure that the effects of the product we were selling really had scientific backing, much of our time was spent doing a lot of learning, in order to be able to sell our weighted blankets with confidence and to be able to answer any questions that our customers may have.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time” by Arianna Huffington
Huffington’s message is exactly the reason why we wanted to create a brand that makes sleep “cool” again. Because we want to push back against the misconception that sleep is connected to laziness. We want people to sleep well for their own good.
Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?
In general, an adult should be getting between 7–9 hours of sleep regularly. Young people require more sleep because their bodies are still growing and developing, which requires a lot of energy, and in turn, a lot more sleep. For instance, newborns need up to 17 hours of sleep per day, toddlers need up to 13 hours, adolescents need 9–11 hours, and teens need up to 10 hours, whereas adults require up to 9 hours. Of course, the older we get, we tend to sleep lighter and for fewer hours than when we were young, but generally, adults should sleep no less than 7 hours per night on a regular basis.
Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10PM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?
Though getting around 8 hours of sleep is ideal, it’s best if you get those 8 hours of sleep while it’s dark out in order to regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythm. The body naturally wants to sleep when it’s dark, and wake when it’s light. When our circadian rhythms are aligned with the earth’s light and dark cycles, we can get the most benefits out of our sleep.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?
Getting regular quality sleep for a change will have an amazing effect on this person’s mood and abilities. They may notice a better overall mood, less irritability, better cognitive function, and the ability to think more clearly. They’ll feel less tired during the day, get sick less often, be able to maintain a healthy weight, and lower their risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?
Yes, sleep has been put on the back burner for too long when it should be at the forefront of our self-care and wellness routines. Just like eating healthy and getting enough exercise, enough quality sleep is imperative for humans to perform at their peak in whatever they do. As mentioned above, the benefits of regular quality sleep span across every facet of our waking lives; it’s necessary for our best mental, physical, and psychological health.
The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?
1. Mentality. Our culture tells us that sleeping is lazy, and that we are not being the productive heroes that our society expects us to be. This mentality needs to change because without quality sleep, how can we expect ourselves to achieve our goals, better yet, complete daily tasks efficiently and well?
2. Devices & changing the way you wind down. The couple of hours before we sleep set the tone for whether we will be able to fall asleep at the intended time or not. So we really should be putting our phones down in the hours leading up to bedtime and reducing the amount of blue light and mental stimulation we are getting from our devices. Pick up a book instead.
3. Setting a plan. If it’s difficult to get to sleep at a reasonable time, add sleep into your daily schedule so that you make it more of a priority rather than an afterthought.
Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?
Absolutely. With technology that integrates into our lives so seamlessly now, our work follows us home, and even into our beds. In the past, once people got home, work didn’t follow them, nor did their friends and acquaintances, or entertainment. Now all of that stimulation is practically a part of who we are. It’s harder to wind down completely.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.
1. Change your relationship with sleep. Our culture tells us that sleeping is lazy, and that we are not being the productive heroes that our society expects us to be. This mentality needs to change because without quality sleep, how can we expect ourselves to achieve our goals, better yet, complete daily tasks efficiently and well? Daily quality sleep will, in turn, help us to perform at our peak in whatever we do.
2. Devices & changing the way you wind down. The couple of hours before we sleep set the tone for whether we will be able to fall asleep at the intended time or not. So we really should be putting our phones down in the hours leading up to bedtime and reducing the amount of blue light and mental stimulation we are getting from our devices. Make it a habit to pick up a book instead, as they help to make us sleepy faster.
3. Setting a plan. If it’s difficult to get to sleep at a reasonable time, add sleep into your daily schedule so that you make it more of a priority rather than an afterthought. Write it down or set a notification on your phone. Simply setting a time to sleep and sticking to it every day will help regulate your sleep cycle, and eventually your body will make it a habit to get sleepy around that time each night.
4. Creating a relaxing atmosphere and nighttime routine. During the hours leading up to bedtime, create a relaxing environment at home that will signal to your brain and body that it’s time to get ready to sleep. Set a nightly wind down routine, whether it means dimming the lights, reading a book, meditating, etc. These relaxing changes will help you to wind down and have an easier transition to sleep.
5. Invest in sleep tools like weighted blankets, eye masks, ear plugs, or sleep applications. There may be aspects in your life or home that are preventing you from getting the best sleep possible at night. The right sleep tool could be the key fix that allows you to get the most out of your sleep. Personally, a 15 pound weighted blanket and a pair of ear plugs quite seriously revolutionized my sleep. I used to have trouble falling asleep and then staying asleep through the night. The faintest noise outside of my window could wake me up and keep me up for hours. Getting to bed under a weighted blanket puts me to sleep faster than I would’ve ever fallen asleep before. And my earplugs block out any potential sounds that could wake me up. Combined, these two have given me the gift of incredibly restful sleep.
What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?
Try a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets put you in a deep sleep state, keeping you from tossing and turning, or waking up unnecessarily during the night. Weighted blankets work with your brain and body by signaling your brain to release serotonin and melatonin (mood and sleep cycle regulating hormones), in turn, making you feel relaxed and sleepy.
There may be other specific reasons why you are waking up in the middle of the night. It’s important to identify those factors and then find a solution accordingly.
What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?
Midday naps are fine if they only span 15 minutes. A 15 minute nap can have a great impact on your productivity afterwards, but napping for longer can leave you feeling groggy because you would’ve entered a deeper sleep state.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Chrissy Teigen! I admire Chrissy Teigen because of her down-to-earth charm. She’s not afraid to post what other influential people hesitate to talk about, whether it’s her postpartum belly or the not-so-pretty aspects of mom life. She’s not afraid to be honest, and that’s why we love her!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow us on instagram @comma.home
Visit our website: www.commahome.com
Shoot us an email [email protected]
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!