Are you a high-maintenance sleeper? I hate to admit that I am. I blame my genetics, because my dad is the kind of sleeper who needs pitch-black darkness and total silence. I don’t know how he has adapted to my mom’s reading light and TV requirements, but he has.
I’ve lived with plenty of roommates, dogs, cats, in lower-level apartments with super-thin walls. I’ve slept with bed-hog boyfriends, or dudes who grind their teeth. These are not ideal situations for a sleeper like me, but I have learned to make the most of it and manage to get a good night’s sleep almost anywhere I am. Do you have sleep troubles and don’t want to depend on Tylenol PM to get your zzzs? I’ve been there.
1. Make your bed a place you want to be. Buy nice, high thread count sheets. Make sure your pillows suit the kind of sleeper you are; I sleep on my side and on my stomach, so I need squishy pillows, not big fluffy ones. This will make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. Find blankets that suit you; do you like to be cozy warm at night, or do you prefer a lighter blanket? Figure out your “sleep profile,” if you will.
2. Put your phone/computer/iPad away at least 20 minutes before you fall asleep. I know, I know. This is hard. My phone is stuck to my hand 24/7, it seems like. But I’ve been trying to put it down and read for at least a half hour before I go to bed, and I turn the ringer to silent now so vibrating texts aren’t waking me up. I turn it upside down too so the light doesn’t jump into my dreams.
3. Stretch. After a long day, I like to unwind before getting into bed by stretching for a few minutes. I’m not a yogi – I actually think yoga is kind of boring – but a couple sun salutations before bed helps me sleep better.
4. Exhaust yourself. When I exercise more frequently than I am currently doing, I sleep better. This is common sense, but hard to remember! (Sex works too, though.)
5. Have a ritual. We’re basically still babies, and having a “bedtime” ritual can help you remind your body that it’s time to sleep. I like to have a cup of tea or a glass of warm water, apply my Aveda lotions, apply eye cream and lip balm and get into bed. It’s simple, but doing it routinely gets me in the mood for sleep.
6. Do you need white noise to lull you to sleep? I used to be a “COMPLETE SILENCE SHHH EVERYONE LET ME SLEEP” sleeper, but now I like a fan whirring or a white noise machine. It happened while I lived with two cats who were always partying all night, and the fan sound drowned them out. I have the Sleep Pillow app, which is free on iTunes, and you can set a timer so it will play for up to an hour.
7. Try aromatherapy. Lavender is a great scent to get you in the mood for sleep; I like lavender bubble bath and Aveda’s Stress-Fix body crème, which is made with lavender and clary sage.
8. Add a humidifier. Dry rooms = dry skin, stuffy noses. A humidifier might make you sleep more comfortably. Babies always have them in their rooms in the winter!
9. Put away clutter. I can’t relax if my room is a mess. Even throwing the clothes that seem to populate my little bedroom couch into the closet for the night helps me chill out.
10. Keep soft earplugs next to the bed. Sometimes, you need to take drastic measures. Like, if a baby and small child move into the apartment next door. Don’t get me started. I hear the kid coughing in my dreams.
11. When you absolutely need a pill, try Melatonin. I gave up my Tylenol PM addiction for melatonin, which I try to use only when I really, really need it. It works just as well, but it isn’t an unnecessary painkiller.