Sleep is about the body and the bedroom. In order to get the best sleep possible, we need to make sure our body is relaxed, and our room is perfect. Try these easy tips tonight and see if you don’t sleep better.
1: Turn Your Radio to Nothing
Too much noise in the bedroom can keep you up, but sometimes so can too little. In order to take your ears out of the equation, try white noise. A standard AM/FM radio works best for this.
Simply tune between stations for an even fuzz and keep the volume low. This neutral white noise works the same way as sleep aid products that make ocean sounds or the sound of falling rain.
Why are repetitive, drone sounds so relaxing? For one, they can drown out other distracting sounds, like breathing, creaking bed springs, or traffic. Some people also think that these kinds of sounds may reproduce the sounds we heard in the womb, and recreate the same sense of calm.
2: Tape Paper to a Fan
This one I learned from an older Russian movie, Solaris. The main character is in bed on a space station and in an effort to feel more at home he tears plain white paper into strips and tapes them to a ventilation duct. The sound created is a lot like leaves in the wind. The principle here is much the same as radio white noise but with a different sound.
If you’ve got a fan give it a try. Just tear some paper into thin strips, not too long, and tape them to the frame of your fan (not the blades). Turn on the fan and enjoy.
Plus, the fan will cool your room which often helps to put you to sleep.
3: Get a Second Pillow
If you sleep on your back or on your side, you can use a second pillow to support your legs or hips. Most people have never tried this and are surprised at how comfortable a second pillow can be.
- For back sleepers, a pillow under the thighs or under the knees can be a comfortable position. This takes away some strain on the lower back.
- For side sleepers like me, a pillow between the knees will keep the legs and hips better aligned with your spine, rather than shifting down and forward.
- For belly sleepers, a second pillow is typically not much use. But make sure your head pillow is not too thick, as this can put a lot of strain on your neck.
4: Pop Those Jammies Off
This one comes down to personal preference. If you’ve never tried sleeping au naturel, then tonight is the night. Sleeping in the nude is particularly helpful in the summer months. This way, you can keep the comforting weight of a sheet or blanket, but not get too hot during the night.
5: Pet Your Cat
Requirement: One cat.
Petting animals, and this includes more than just cats, is an excellent way to relax and lower stress levels before bed. Pet owners are recorded as having better cardiovascular health than non-pet owners. Petting a cat can also raise endorphin levels, leading to a better sense of calmness and peace.
If your bedtime routine makes time for warm milk, a quick read, or responding to emails, then you can spare a few minutes for dedicated pet time.
6: Be a Cat (and a Cow)
Whether or not you practice Yoga, there are two quick moves you can take with you into bed: the cat pose and the cow. These will limber up your back and remove lingering tensions from the day.
Both poses start on your hands and knees, with your knees lined up under your hips and hands under your shoulders.
The cat is a position like a frightened cat with the spine bowed high in the air. You can tuck your tummy upwards as well. Keep your head down, and focus on making your spine touch the ceiling.
Next, transition smoothly into the cow, which has a low swayed back. The cow is the opposite of the cat – arch your back down, and focus on making your belly touch the bed.
Alternate between the cat and the cow several times until your back feels loose and warm. Remember that this is a relaxation technique, not an exercise.
7: Flex and Relax Every Muscle
If you get into bed and you still feel tense, it’s time to break out the big guns. The big relaxation guns.
To do this trick, we’re going to lye comfortably in bed, and we’re going to move from your toes to the tips of your ears while flexing every muscle along the way. So start by scrunching your toes tight into balls, then relax them completely. Then flex your ankles, relax, and so on.
By first flexing and then slacking, you can put your muscles into a better state of relaxation. You essentially tell your body: “this is what work feels like. We’re not going to do this anymore.”
8: Turn your Clock Around
There are two good reasons to turn your clock away from your bed.
- First, if you’ve got a glowing digital clock, the light may be keeping you up. This is most often the case with bright blue lights, but some people, myself included, are bothered by red lights as well.
- Second, and even more important, is that you don’t want to be checking the clock when you are trying to sleep. Continually checking the clock, and wondering why you can’t sleep, creates a dangerous downward spiral. If you keep checking the clock, you may begin to stress out about the fact that it’s getting later and later.
You may be thinking “Now I’ll only get seven hours of sleep… And now I’ll only get six-and-a-half!.” This kind of worrying will just keep you up later. So use you clock to stick to your bedtime, but once you’re in bed put your clock in time-out.
9: Shove your Partner Out of Bed
The last time I checked, my wedding vows didn’t say anything about keeping me up at night. If your bedmate snores, hogs the bed, or is a human furnace, it’s time to take action.
I find the best move is to grip the headboard with one hand, and place your other hand behind you to act as a brace. Draw your legs up and place them squarely on your partner’s lower back, with your knees against your chest.
Then, simply push away with your legs and enjoy the bed all to yourself.
Image credit: "It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new life for me!…" by Loving Earth, on Flickr