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On my nightstand, I have a sleep mask gathering dust, a light therapy lamp that I’ve never once plugged in, and a diffuser filled with lavender essential oil and probably mold. Basically, I’m a sleep optimist. I know about sleep hygiene. I crave a relaxing nighttime routine and consistent sleep and wake-up schedule. But in reality, I just sort of tumble into bed sometime between midnight and 3 a.m., sleepwalk my way through the morning after hitting snooze a dozen times, wonder why I’m tired all day, and do it all over again.
I’m in good company—research from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shows that a third of us are sleep-slackers, getting less than seven hours of shuteye a night, the minimum recommended for health and wellbeing. But that doesn’t make me any less delirious.
So when the makers of tulo, a new mattress designed to support your specific sleep style, offered to let me try out one of their dreamy memory foam mattresses if I promised to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night for a week, I was into it. (Heads up: If you get overheated in the wee hours like me and are nervous about memory foam mattresses, both a cooling layer and an airflow layer in each tulo keep you nice and chill.)
Here’s what happened during my week of blissful rest. Spoiler: Sleep is very nice and good!
My 3 p.m. hangries were MIA.
Just one night of skimping on sleep messes with the hormones that regulate how hungry you feel and how quickly you register fullness when you’re eating the next day. Translation: You wake up with pizza on your mind and in your heart, and you absolutely, desperately need chocolate and salty chips in the afternoon.
While no amount of sleep will turn me into one of those people who “forgot to eat,” I did feel infinitely more satisfied with my healthy-ish lunch and didn’t feel the need to go snack grazing after a night on the tulo.
I was on top of my game at work.
Those aforementioned 3 p.m. munchies? They usually come with a side of very heavy eyelids. And for a freelance writer like me, that grogginess can end up meaning a “work” day that is mostly just naps, imposter syndrome-induced mood spirals, and a little light crying in between episodes of Frasier. (So I’ve been told. Not that I’ve ever had a day like that.)
Research backs me up—studies have shown that a rotten night of sleep can wreak havoc on attention, focus, and performance. So this week, when the freelance heavens opened up and assignments rained down, I was grateful I had the mental energy to take them all on and hit my deadlines.
I went to the gym. Twice! In the morning!
Please, hold your applause. Was I disappointed that, after weeks of no-showing at my local sports club, I wasn’t welcomed back with a marching band weaving through the ellipticals? Of course. But my self-satisfaction at making it there at all (twice!) was enough. Turns out that a quality eight hours of sleep leaves you well-rested enough that you can actually get out of bed the first time your alarm goes off, and starting the day with the time and willpower to work out feels better than hitting snooze so many times that your cat thinks you’re dead and starts trying to boop you awake.
Bonus: My back didn’t feel 200 years old when I woke up. I usually change positions (aka thrash around violently) while I sleep. This quiz from tulo steered me to their medium firmness mattress—a perfect balance of supportive and cushiony for my middle-of-the-night American Ninja Warrior moves.
I wore eyeshadow.
Sure, some people wake up early enough to catch the sunrise, meditate, pop the wholesome ingredients for a Paleo dinner into their slow cooker, pack bento-box lunches for their herd, go for a run, and take their kids to school all before starting their days. But have they ever tried to make both of their eyes the exact same degree of smokey?
Ok, I’m starting small, but having a chunk of extra time and energy for skincare and grooming felt pretty great, especially when I’m used to completely skimping on self-care and/or kind of sleepily trudging through the process of trying to make myself look presentable. Next challenge: liquid eyeliner.
I cracked a smile before 10 a.m.
Sleep research shows we feel more irritable, angry, and hostile and less friendly and empathic when we’re sleep deprived. This low mood is fairly impenetrable–we’re less likely to even derive an emotional boost from a positive experience or achievement when we’re tired.
Now, did a week sleeping in tulo’s welcoming embrace spur me to look like the “after” sequence of a commercial for allergy medication? No, I didn’t become ecstatic about gardening or stroll through a wheat field hand in hand with anyone. But I did have noticeably more pep first thing in the morning and found myself being more chatty with strangers and friends and agreeable with coworkers throughout the day. I’d call that a success!