Of all the different things that Dr. Brent has taught our Neighbors about, a guide on how to sleep better has never been one of them. The closest we’ve come is instructing you on how to take a good nap. But if we pull back the curtain a bit, we can show you why we aren’t the best sleep educators.
We’re terrible sleepers.
Well, maybe not terrible. But we’re not very good at it. Brent doesn’t know how to sleep in. The only time he’s been asleep past 7am was due to a horrible bought of jetlag. Josh, on the other hand, can sleep in easily, but he also habitually wakes up at 2 am. And this isn’t that wake-up, adjust, and fall back asleep type of disruption. This is a wake-up, think about everything in the universe, maybe even pace a little, and fall back to sleep in about an hour and half kind of wake up.
However, after years of sleeping in hotels, different time zones, and in strange places (there’s no shame in taking a barn nap between chores), we’ve come up with what we think is the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep. Do we follow all of these steps all of the time? No, it’s not really possible, but we try our best. So, hopefully, you will do as we say, and not as we do.
Turn down that pesky blue light
We are the biggest offenders of using our phones or laptops late into the evening. Our electronic devices emit a lot of blue light, which disrupts the natural flow of serotonin in the body. This means that using your phone before bed or even in bed will mess with your ability to sleep well. The best advice is to stop using phones, laptops and tablets at least an hour before you plan to head to bed. However, if you are like us, you might not be consistent at putting your phone down. So if you’re not going to follow this rule, at least cheat a bit by using apps like F.Lux or enabling Night Mode (if you’re an Android user) or Night Shift (if you’re an Apple user). These apps help your body get ready for sleep by applying a yellow filter to your screen. This cancels out some of the blue light, helping you sleep better later on.
Get your bedroom ready for sleep
Did you know that autumn is the best season for sleeping? It’s because the days are getting shorter and the sun is on a schedule more in-sync with our body’s circadian rhythm. In addition, the temperature at night is ideal for sleeping (averaging between 57-65 degrees Fahrenheit.) When it’s not autumn, there are ways you can mimic that perfect sleep atmosphere. During sunnier seasons, trying shutting curtains and dimming the lights around the house starting around 7 pm and adjust your bedroom’s temperature until it hits that 57-65-degree sweet spot. The combination of dimmed light and cooler temps will signal your brain to start getting into sleep mode.
Keep a journal near your bed
Brent keeps a journal with him at all times. He loves to have a sleek notepad with a protective cover to jot down ideas, notes or things that inspire him. Keeping a journal or something to write on near your bed is great if you are someone who has a hard time falling or staying asleep. If you’re too stressed out to sleep, write down what thoughts are racing through your head in the journal. Have a great idea right as you close your eyes? Write it down so you can revisit it in the morning. Bored, can’t sleep, and want to scroll mindlessly through your phone? Don’t! Are you even reading this blog post? Put down the phone, pick up the journal. You don’t even need to write in it, doodling is just as good. A notepad near your bed helps you empty your brain so that it’s all ready for sleep.
Tell yourself that you won’t fall asleep
You know how toddlers will say they aren’t tired, but will quickly fall asleep once they lay down? There’s actually science behind this beyond “the terrible twos.” It’s called a sleep paradox. The way you can try it as an adult Is by lying in bed with either your eyes tightly shut or very wide open (this exaggerated action is part of the process). Repeat to yourself “I am not falling asleep” and you will notice that after a few minutes, you’ll start drifting off. This happens because our brains don’t respond well to negative commands and it will naturally want to rebel. So go ahead and act like a toddler. Scrunch up your face and tell yourself that you aren’t going to fall asleep. Just make sure you’re laying down for it to work, otherwise you’ll just look like a very grumpy adult.
Do you have any sleep tips to share with us? What do you do to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly? Let us know. We’ll be here, trying very hard not to scroll through Instagram at 11 pm at night. Sweet dreams.