There’s a reason ‘sleeping like a baby’ means getting good deep sleep. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to let go of the day’s concerns and slip into a comfortable and restful sleep. When you can’t sleep, your mind churns and your body never quite settles. You find yourself having fitful dreams about being at work and never quite seem to really get that REM sleep you need to energize for the next day. While there are dozens of sleep guides in the world, here are a few tips for the green lifestyle enthusiast that will help you ease your sleeping mind and live greener at the same time.
1) Bedroom House Plant
Oxygen is one of the most important elements of human existence. When the air you breathe has a high oxygen level, your thoughts get clearer, your blood is more oxygenated, and you can relax more fully. Many workplaces put fill break rooms and recreation areas with potted plants as a way to raise mood and morale and you can do the same thing for your sleeping time. With a (non-allergy-causing) leafy plant placed near your bed at night, it will massively increase the air quality of the room and, in effect, also improve the quality of your sleep.
2) The Right Belly Contents
What’s in your stomach when you go to sleep matters a lot to how well you sleep and how you feel when you wake up. It’s best to eat a few hours before bed because the REM cycle actually shuts down your stomach so any undigested food will sit like a lump until morning. Make sure to eat things that are healthy, comfortable to digest (not Mexican), and enhance sleep (like turkey). If you want a snack before bed, instead have a cup of sugared herbal tea which will warm and relax you.
3) Take a Relaxing Bath
A successful bedtime that results in deep sleep is all about relaxing your mind and easing your busy thoughts before bed. A hot bath has a number of beneficial effects. The hot water will relax your work-tense muscles so you can sleep more comfortably, Epsom salts and a little-scented oil can promote skin health and blood flow, and the time to sit and float will prepare you for sleep. To top it all off, the act of cooling off after the bath will actually make you quite sleepy as your body associates cold with time to sleep. Why is the bath green? Because most people take a shower, and a long sleepy shower uses a lot more water than a single delightful steaming bath.
4) The Right Bedtime Snack
What you eat before bed can have a huge impact on how well you sleep. No doubt, you’ve heard jokes about bad dreams and indigestion from before-bed pizza and most adults have found at least a few things they know better than to eat as a bedtime snack. However, the same rule can work in the other direction. Healthy, light-weight snacks like honey flavored greek yogurt, a banana smoothie, crunchy cereal with milk, or a peanut butter sandwich with whole wheat bread can settle your stomach and prepare your body to relax into sleep.
5) Keep the Air Moving
You may have noticed that it’s easier to sleep in a room that would be uncomfortably cold to your waking self, preferably snuggled under a blanket. Especially if you live in a warmer climate, it can be tempting to crank up the AC at night in order to sleep more comfortably. However, you can save yourself a significant amount on your monthly power bill by switching to a fan instead. Simply by keeping air flowing through your bedroom, you should be able to achieve cool, comfortable sleep without the HVAC power drain.
6) Fewer Bedroom Electronics
Finally, the number of lights around you when you go to sleep has a notable effect on how deeply you can drift away. The more lights, the harder it becomes to shake your daily thoughts. If you have a computer, a console, digital clock, DVR, or other collection of electronics with little lights on in your bedroom, consider turning them off or even unplugging them when you go to sleep. This can both increase your depth of sleep and decrease your power bill over time.
7) Cool Pajamas, Warm Blankets
Your body temperature when you sleep matters a great deal, as does your ability to cycle through hot and cold. Ideally, you want both pajamas and sheets that are light-weight and breathable so that if you sweat in the night, it will evaporate and cool you down rather than getting clammy. For most people, 100% cotton is the best way to ensure that the fabric is both soft and breathable. If where you live gets cold in the winter, wear light-weight cotton flannel pajamas, breathable sheets, and a warm layer of blankets instead of stacking on warm PJs, warm sheets, and warm blankets which can cause overheating and stuffiness as your body changes temperature throughout the REM cycle.
Getting good sleep is mostly a matter of tricking your body into understanding that it’s safe to drift away. A cool dark room with plenty of airflows and a healthy supply of oxygen is exactly what you need to enjoy your next night’s sleep. Perhaps you won’t achieve the dreamless sleep of an infant, but you just might get the best dreams you’ve had in months.