You’ve made it to the end of an incredibly long day. You’re stressed, tired and hungry. You draw a warm bath and put weird oils and salts in it. You slip in to the bath and relax. Then you grab the huge plate of food that you just made for yourself — roast, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and some fruit — and dump it in the bath with you. You eat the soggy food that now tastes like soap until all that’s left are some little meat chunks from the roast and some pieces of broccoli florets. Mmmmmmmmm boy.
Wait. Did you lose me at the food in the bath?
What? You don’t eat dinner in the bathtub?
Fine. If you’re not cool with that, then how about getting some kettlebells and a jump rope. Maybe a slam ball and an abmat. Taking all that stuff with you to your car…and getting a great workout inside your Honda Fit.
Would you consider planning your wedding not on a beach or in a church, but in a large city sewer?
No?! So PICKY!
If all of these scenarios seem weird to you, they should. I’ve described activities and environments that don’t belong together.
You don’t eat dinner in the bath. You don’t workout inside your car. You don’t get married standing in poop.
You also shouldn’t try to sleep in an environment not designed or set up for sleep.
And you can think whatever you want about the topic, but the fact of the matter is that you will not get the best sleep you can unless you are in an environment that allows you to get great sleep.
Have no idea what I’m talking about?
Here are some things to think about when considering your sleep environment through the lens of our five senses.
This is a biggie and one that most people are deviant on. Your room should be as close to pitch black as humanly possible. TV on when you’re getting ready for bed? Turn it off. TV in your room at all? Take it out. Is that too crazy of a thing to consider? That’s cool — but you won’t ever get the sleep you were designed to get and that you NEED to be the healthiest version of yourself.
Is there a bright alarm clock next to your bed? Unplug it or put something over it to shut that light down. Street light outside creeping through your curtains or blinds? Get some blackout curtains that Dikembe Mutumbo it right back outside … NOT IN MY HOUSE!
The slightest amount of unnatural light in your room can affect your sleep. And it doesn’t matter if your eyes are closed. Your eyelids are permeable so light exposure with closed eyes still gets to your brain. And this doesn’t just apply to light in your room during sleep. The light exposure you get 1-2 hours BEFORE you hit the sack are critical too. Cut out that artificial light.
Think about what happens to the temperature outside when the sun goes down…it also goes down. Even in the hottest environments like a desert, the temp drops drastically. So doesn’t it make sense that our body temperature also drops when it’s time to count sheep? And I bet sheep’s body temp goes down, too…
Once you nod your head in agreement about that point, then you should also understand that it makes sense to make your room as cold as possible. Is it more comfortable to sleep in a cold room or a super hot, muggy room? Right. It makes sense.
The other thing with touch are your sheets. Ever tried to sleep on old, rough, scratchy sheets? Yeah, it’s miserable. It’s like trying to sleep in your jeans. Invest in some sheets that are nice and smooth and silky on your skin. Silk pajamas anyone?
This is a no-brainer. Well it should be anyway. Loud noises or weird unnatural noises can affect your sleep. Anyone out there have a newborn? Then you know how important noise control can be. Babies wake up when you clean out that stupid icemaker that’s stopped working — and you wake up when baby cries. At least I hope you do anyway.
Live out in the country? Skip to the next point.
But if you live in a city with noise that isn’t constant enough to just soak into the background, you should consider getting a fan or other type of constant noise maker to cut out the erratic, unnatural noises.
Babies wake up when they poop their pants. Adults do too I guess. Is it because the poop in their diaper is uncomfortable on their skin (touch)? Or is it because of the horrid smell? Maybe both?
I love me some pot roast cooking in a crock pot, but if it’s cooking overnight in the house it’s hard for me to sleep. My wife has trouble sleeping sometimes when I’m having issues with my gastrointestinal system…know what I’m saying?
Smells in your sleep environment matter. My wife is all into the oils and always has pleasant aromas diffusing in our bedroom which I’m a fan of (I just have to make sure it’s not emitting an unnatural light!). If you’re not a crazy snake oil lady or married to one, then just make sure you have clean sheets that have been washed in nice smelling soap…and put those empty tuna cans out with the trash and not under your pillow.
This one is a stretch because most people aren’t sucking on lollipops while they’re sleeping, but we’ll take it back a few hours from the time of sleep — you don’t want to eat a huge meal right before bedtime. That can affect your blood sugar, digestion and therefore, sleep.
Oh, but you’re always getting food cravings late at night and need to eat something? OK, that’s easy. GO TO BED EARLIER! Eat a good dinner 3-4 hours before your bedtime, cut out the artificial lights, and go to sleep when you start to feel drowsy. Fighting through that feeling and keeping yourself awake with coffee or bright light exposure will tell your body that it was mistaken, it’s not actually nighttime, so it will stop making you feel drowsy and start making you feel…you guessed it, hungry.
If you REALLY want to get better sleep, you need to decide to make the changes in your sleep environment that are necessary to allow your body to do it’s thing in the sleep realm.
Don’t workout out in your car. Don’t eat dinner in the bathtub. And don’t try to sleep in a room that is not set up for an optimal sleep experience.