Hello, 2:37am. My old friend.
Once again, I was awake in the middle of the night. This time, it was because a wayward cat decided to jump on my pillow. Sometimes, it’s simply the sound of the wind. Or some message from the universe telling me it’s time to get up and start thinking…
We’ve all been there and frankly, it sucks. According to the CDC, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic that contributes to car crashes, industrial disasters, and medical errors. So you’re certainly not alone when you’re lying awake counting sheep. Again.
So if you’re tired (literally) of trying to get the elusive 8 hours of sleep you desperately need, it may be time to try a less conventional approach.
Regulate Your Air Quality
It’s too dry. No, it’s too humid. We feel like Goldilocks trying to get our air quality just right.
Unless you live in a perfectly controlled living environment, you probably have different air quality issues at different times of the year. Here in the north, we often add humidifiers during the winter months to offset heaters that dry the air. Yet, trying to achieve the perfect air quality for your home isn’t as easy as buying a humidifier.
Depending on what time of year, the air quality of your home, and your allergies, you may need a humidifier, a dehumidifier, or an air purifier. According to Sleep Solutions, “People with asthma and allergies are especially prone to complications when breathing in air that contains dust and other allergens”. On the other hand, too much humidity also causes issues for those with asthma. So you may need to try more than one air system to find the right balance for your home.
Use a Noise Maker (droning voices work too!)
My son’s trick is to listen to rock all night long. This doesn’t work for me.
Along with guided sleep meditations and white noise machines, there are other less conventional sleep aids out there. My current favorite is the Sleep With Me Podcast which claims to be “The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep – A Lulling, Droning, Boring Bedtime Story to Distract Your Racing Mind”.
And it is a boring, hour of rambling that puts you to sleep. With episodes like Nuns in Space #6 and Protector of Oakland’s Stonefruit, this is the most boring thing I’ve ever listened too. They even have a set of podcasts called Superdull about superheroes who wait around.
I understand this one sounds crazy. I used to listen to audiobooks if I couldn’t get back to sleep in the past. That worked sometimes, but sometimes I would get interested in the story. There is no way to get interested in these boring stories told in a monotone voice.
Don’t knock this crazy suggestion until you try it.
Start Measuring Your Sleep Habits
Fitbit researchers analyzed over 10 million users and found that the average person is restless for almost 26 minutes every night. This isn’t surprising, but the study also looked at the average time people went to bed. “The body loves regularity. When you have a regular bedtime, your sleep biology can train itself around that time – your body knows when sleep is coming, so it can optimally prepare” says Michael Grandner, PhD, and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
While devices like Fitbit can measure the time you sleep (and also how many steps you take each day), they can also help you establish daily sleep habits that may help create a better sleep schedule.
It’s Time to Try Something New
Used sleep medication? Check. Tried exercising more? Check. Tried ear plugs, special temperature controlling blankets, and light-blocking curtains? Check, check, check…
It seems like we’ve all tried everything to get a decent night’s sleep. Yet, this isn’t something that will go ever away. Your health is directly impacted by the quality of sleep you achieve, so this is something can’t ignore.
Instead, try something new. Maybe regulating the air quality in your home will do the trick. Maybe listening to the most boring podcast in existence will help. The idea is to keep trying until you find the right combination of sleep aids that work for you.