Sound Sleep Pt. 2: Optimizing Your Sleep Environment
In Sound Sleep Pt. 1 we focused on creating a bedtime routine to help you prepare your body for a good night sleep. This post will focus on creating a sleep environment that helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
Here is how to optimize your sleep environment:
1. Keep your room as dark as possible. Dim the lights, cover your windows, put your iPhone face down, cover your alarm clock lights. We do this because light inhibits melatonin production and makes it harder to fall asleep.
2. Create a relaxing sleep area that is quiet and free of clutter. I didn’t realize how powerful this was until I folded the laundry on my floor, finished unpacking from my move, and cleaned up so I had minimal stuff visible. It was like I could take a deeper breath and I felt the stress melt away. This is my favorite tip for a good sleep environment.
3. Set your room at an appropriate temperature. Most people sleep better when it’s cool (less than 67 degrees). I know power companies may want you to live with a higher temperature in the hot summers for the “grid” (whatever that means) or maybe you want to be like my In-laws and save a few bucks by making it so hot in your house it induces heat stroke. Do that during the day if you must but at night turn on your A/C or a fan to promote a cool and restful night.
4. Use white noise. I like to use a fan but nature sounds from your iPhone work well too. This can help lull you to sleep and drown out more disruptive noises.
5. Wake up peacefully. Isn’t it stressful to start the day with a blaring alarm clock? The iPhone alarm clock almost gives me a heart attack. I hate that!! Here are some better ways to wake up….
-Wake up to light. A “dawn simulating alarm clock” gradually increases light levels and raises cortisol which helps you wake up slowly and peacefully.
-Wake up to building noise. Some alarm apps will gradually make louder, less annoying noises than an alarm clock, helping you start off the day without panic.
-Move right away. I know it’s temping to hit the snooze button. Try to get your feet on the floor as soon as you can and start moving toward anywhere that isn’t your bed.
-Expose yourself to more light after you wake up to help you wake up faster.
The most important thing is that you get more sleep which usually means going to bed a few minutes earlier or, if possible, sleeping in. Creating a good bedtime routine and optimizing your sleep environment are great ways to make sure you can fall and stay asleep but they don't make up for not getting the hours required for you to feel and perform your best.
Sleeping more and better can change your life. You have time for it. So make time!
"Source: Hacking Sleep" By Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD