Sleep is a topic I’ve thought A LOT about in the past two years. As my doctor said, “Did you know one of the most common forms of torture used in POW camps is sleep deprivation?” True story. Getting an adequate amount of zzz’s every night is so, so important to physical, mental, and emotional health.
My sweet toddler is many things, but a good sleeper is most definitely not one of them. When people would ask me during the first year if he “sleeps during the night” yet, I would rub my bloodshot eyes and think “sleep through the night? i’ll take even a 4 hour stretch, thank you very much!”
Now, this article is not about how I finally got my toddler to learn to sleep through the night (side note: I haven’t, and if you have any tips on that feel free to send them my way!) But it IS about how I learned to love the sleep I do get, and to maximize and enjoy it to its fullest. Below are my tips for getting the best sleep in the city that never sleeps.
1. Invest in bedding that you love.
For the longest time, I never thought much about the materials on our bed. It looked pretty, and that’s all there was to it, right? Wrong. After getting some advice from a physical therapist about how important pillow quality is to reducing neck discomfort, I ditched the (terribly flat) pillows we’ve been using the past 8 years and got these fantastic little gel numbers instead. My husband and I both agree we don’t know how we slept without them.
We’re also big fans of these flannel sheets for the winter, which somehow just get softer with each wash, and make settling into bed every night such a joy.
2. Put low wattage bulbs in your bedside lamp.
I’m a big reader at night, and need my bedside lamp to do so. Before, I had a regular watt bulb in there, which definitely did nothing to wind me down for the evening (not to mention it kept the room prettyyyy bright.) Quite on accident, I put in a low wattage bulb when my last one finally died (mostly because I was like “ohhhh, vintage light bulbs, those look pretty!”), and instantly fell in love. Besides just looking cool, the warm amber glow is still enough light to comfortably read by, and I find myself getting droopy eyed much quicker than I ever would with the bright bulb–it really sets a sleepy time tone in the room, if that makes sense?
3. Choose a book that’s not a page-turner for bedtime reading.
I won’t even get into how I fully discourage ANY screen time in the bedroom–I’m sure you’ve heard it before;-) Instead, choose books! If you’re a reader, you’d probably agree with me that you have two different TBR piles: one that you whisk through at lightning speed because the genres or topics are of high interest to you, and one that you would LIKE to get through one day, but the reading just goes much more slower for you. For me, I could stay up all night reading a really good psychological thriller, engrossing memoir, or a great piece of contemporary fiction. However, I tend to slug through the classics much more slowly. So I changed my bedtime reading habits. Now, instead of picking up a book that will have me struggling to turn off the lights, I pick one which I know will be having me yawn after half an hour. The perk here is I’m actually reading MORE classics than before, because I read a little each day, and I’m getting MORE sleep. Win/win! You can adapt this tip to fit your sleepy-time reading preferences!
4. Write down lingering to-do’s or nagging worries.
One of the biggest reasons I struggle to fall asleep is I’ll start fixating on something that still needs to be done, or something that’s just plain bothering me. My yoga teacher often says that “worrying saps 50% of your daily energy”, and that the healthiest of people learn there’s no upside in worrying. While I’ve always been big on keeping a running to-do list, I now will sit up in the middle of the night and jot any thoughts down that I find are keeping me from getting restful sleep. Once they’re physically out of my mind and onto paper, I find I can settle into sleep much quicker.
5. Use music to set the mood.
While we regularly blast Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” every morning as our power wake-up song, evenings are reserved for soothing classical music without lyrics. Played softly, it can actually imitate being in a spa, and helps drown out the honking and wind blowing and occasional city dweller that you can hear through the window down below. Even Augusten is well aware that when the soft music goes on, it’s time to break out the Goodnight Moon book and settle into bed. (It just usually takes us about 17 reads before he drifts off;-)
What tips do you have to get better sleep? Share below!