Between my husband and I, it seems that one of us is constantly battling insomnia. Either we can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep, or simply don’t sleep deeply enough to feel rested. The problem came to a head after our son started sleeping through the night. Sleep training him seemed to have the opposite effect on us: we became so accustomed to waking to the sound of his crying — and staying awake to wait him out — that even once he was sleeping solidly, our sleep clocks would sound the alarm in the middle of the night.
Often we’d awaken at 1am and be just drifting back to sleep when the baby would start his day at 6am. This led to caffeine-fueled mornings, headache-wracked afternoons, and a constant feeling like we’d been up all night partying…except without the party. We tried melatonin and other sleep supplements to no avail — my husband didn’t even have success on prescription sleep medications. Until these five habits finally broke our pattern:
- Stay on a schedule. The human body clock is naturally set to power us down around 10pm every night and reawaken us around 6am. We follow this schedule rigidly, because we find that when we deviate, we often miss our sleep window and have a bad night. You might even consider setting a sleep alarm 30 minutes before bedtime to remind you to finish what you’re doing and get ready for rest.
- Skip that second glass of wine. While alcohol may make you sleepy, it tends to disrupt the later stages of sleep. This is true of alcohol in general — not just red wine, as many people think. So whether you’re wine tasting or cocktailing, it’s best to keep intake moderate and cut yourself off well before bedtime.
- Stay cool. I love the comfort of being swaddled in the cocoon of my comforter even in the summer time, but I hate a hot room. It turns there’s a science to this: most people sleep best when the room is a chilly 60- to 67 degrees farenheight. Just make sure you have enough blankets, or even wear socks.
- Power down early. The LED light emitted from our favorite electronics can have a major impact on sleep. So while it doesn’t particularly benefit me to tell you not to surf Instagram right before bed….maybe don’t do that. Instead, try to shut it down at least an hour before hitting the hay.
- Embrace the sun. When morning finally comes, throw open the curtains, lean out the window and yell “hello, world!” …or maybe skip that last part. Getting just 15 minutes of natural light — even if it’s just through your bathroom window while you’re brushing your teeth — can help you sleep better the following night. The converse is also true: overnight light can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Our bedroom windows face east, and we find it very difficult to sleep during the summer months. Fortunately, the solution is as simple as an inexpensive sleep mask. (Although you can certainly track down a fancier or more fun version.)