612-644-9781 info@crossfitslipstream.com

3 Ways to Hack Your Sleep Environment

I hardly slept when I was an overachieving college student. Even when I gave myself the opportunity to sleep, I found myself staring at the ceiling for hours until I could fall into a fitful, interrupted sleep. High levels of stress from life or work, over-training, and lack of good or even adequate nutrition are some of the factors that contribute to the inability to fall or stay asleep. While it may be difficult or even impossible to control the amount of stress you undergo throughout the day, I want to offer a few tips to “hack” your sleeping environment and mitigate the harmful effects of inadequate sleep.

Related:7 Bedtime Routines to Help You Sleep Tight


Image result for sleep with phone

Environment

Just like it’s important to have a good environment to study or exercise, so too do you need an environment that will be conducive to sleep. Use the following three questions to help you assess your current environment:

  1. Is there any visible light when you go to sleep?

  2. Is your sleeping environment noisy or loud?

  3. Have you brought work or school-related stress into your bedroom?

If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, there’s a chance you can manipulate your environment to get better sleep.


Light

Image result for vampire and light

“There are photoreceptors in your eyes as well as on your skin. When exposed to artificial light, those photoreceptors suppress the production of melatonin.”

While most people know about the harmful effects of blue-light from electronic devices before bed, many people are unaware of how great an effect other sources of light (headlights coming in through windows, nightlights, hall lights sneaking in under your doorway), may have on your sleep. There are photoreceptors in your eyes as well as on your skin. When exposed to artificial light, those photoreceptors suppress the  production of melatonin. Further, light exposure during sleep impacts insulin resistance which can eventually lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes. One study found that even small amounts of light hitting the skin can lead to a night of restless sleep.

With this information about light in mind, here are two simple solutions to help you black-out your room:

  1. Put up thick curtains or buy black-out curtains. At first it may be a little disorienting to experience total darkness, but after a few days you will get used to and maybe even come to appreciate the lack of light. You can also experiment with a sleep mask, just note that this method of light blocking doesn’t necessarily block light that is hitting the photoreceptors found on your skin.

  2. Remove smart devices from your person and hide your electronic devices out of sight. Again, your eyes and skin are sensitive to light. That one text message from your friend in the middle of the night will light up your room and interrupt your sleep. Hiding your phone will also force you to finish up your technology use earlier in the night.

  3. If you absolutely must use blue-light emitting devices at night, especially right before bed, consider purchasing blue-light blocking or amber-tinted glasses. These decrease the amount of blue-light taken in by the photoreceptors in your eyes.


Noise

It can be very difficult to fall asleep if you have noisy neighbors or a snoring partner. There are a few tips and tricks towards overcoming noise.

  1. Consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones. I have personally found that earplugs are not enough to drown out noises.

  2. If silence bothers you, consider downloading sleep apps that play white noise or tranquil nature sounds, which have been shown to assist in sleep. You can even play these noises through your noise blocking headphones. Some apps include Dormio for iPhone and Moodify for Android.


Work: leave it outside of the bed!

“If you read work emails, study or write papers in bed, you begin psychologically associating your place of sleep to a place of stress and work.”

If you read my article Entering the Gym: Mind Tricks for Performing Your Best During a Workout, you’ll see how important it is to shift into your “Gym Persona” in order to get the most benefit from your workout. When creating your sleeping environment, you need to keep work outside of your bedroom, or at least outside of your bed. If you read work emails, study or write papers in bed, you begin psychologically associating your place of sleep to a place of stress and work. Keep work away from the bedroom (and especially the bed) and you will find yourself developing a healthier relationship with your sleep environment.

I challenge you to pick one of the questions you answered “yes” to and attempt one of the tips listed under that section. If you have any questions or need help brainstorming other ways to make your sleeping environment more conducive to sleep, feel free to email me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com. Be on the lookout for my next sleep article where I discuss some supplements, daily practices, and exercise tricks to help improve your sleep!

–Jasmine Gerritsen

Coach/Trainer

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com