Welcome back to our sleep discussion! In part 1 we talked about changes you can make to your daily routine that will improve the quality of your sleep at night. Have you tried any of them yet? How are you feeling now?
Another step we can take to set ourselves up for sleep success is creating an environment conducive to unconsciousness. In this edition we’re going to focus on the place where the magic happens, the bedroom. And by magic, I mean rest and recovery! The 3 factors I want you to hone in on are light levels, noise levels, and temperature. Your sleep space will ideally be dark, quiet, and cool. Basically the opposite of how I’d describe my personality.
The first, and maybe most obvious step to making your bedroom as dark as possible is to cover the windows. Use curtains large enough to completely cover the entire window. Avoid frilly, lacy, somewhat see-through window treatments. Choose something that light will not pass through. You don’t need to go full on blackout, but you could.
Next eliminate all light sources within the room. Do you have a digital clock by your bed? Consider switching to battery powered analog with your cell phone as a backup (left outside the room, of course ). Think of other electronic devices that have small indicator lights. Even these can interfere with your sleep. Try repositioning them, or covering them with tape.
Once all light sources, natural or otherwise, have been minimized there is one more step you can take to make the room as dark as possible. Wear a sleep mask. This one can take a little getting used to, but it has been a game changer for me. I feel like I fall asleep even more easily with a sleep mask, and generally feel more rested when I wake up. You don’t need to get anything fancy, or expensive. A cheap sleep mask, similar to the free ones they hand out on red eye flights is a great one to try first. It’s minimal, and if you hate it, you won’t have dropped $35 on a useless face gadget in an attempt to “hack your sleep”.
Making the room quiet may begin in the same place as making the room dark, the windows. Curtains that help reduce noise, as well as keep the room dark could be a good investment. Make sure that analog alarm clock you replaced your bright digital one with is far enough away from where you sleep that the ticking won’t bother you (this could also be just outside your bedroom door too). As much as is possible, remove any other noisey electronics while you’re at it.
If all else fails, try ear plugs. I’ve had mixed success with these, and am not currently using them nightly. That said, if there are some bothersome sounds you literally cannot eliminate, I think they’re worth giving a go.
Last, although certainly not least, keep it cool . The ideal temperature for sleeping is around 65°F. There’s a whole range of suggestions, anywhere from 60 to 72°F. Personal preference plays a role. If you “sleep hot”, you probably want to set the thermostat to the low end of this range. You can also try a cooling mattress pad. I haven’t personally tried one of these, however I’ve heard great things from some “hot sleepers”. In addition to improving the quality of your sleep, sleeping cool will also save a few bucks on the energy bill (yes, I’m a dad).
Invest in your sleep space. Keep it dark, quiet, and cool. You’ll receive quick returns in the form of more energy throughout the day and improved performance.
Watch out for the final installment where we’ll talk about your bedtime routine.