Lisa’s Sleep Diary Volume 3: Six Rules to Prevent Sleep Sabotage
But I’m still running into a few roadblocks keeping me from having the best sleep experience. And I can only blame myself.
There’s always one more thing on my to-do list I’m trying to squeeze in before bed, or “self-care” in the form of a glass of wine (and experts say drinking alcohol before bed disrupts sleep), or yet another episode of “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” on Netflix to keep me up an extra hour.
Even though I was getting better quality sleep on my Nectar mattress, I was sabotaging the time I spent in bed. So I decided to create a list of “Rules to Prevent Sleep Sabotage” to help me build better habits for a better night’s sleep. Now I just have to follow them.
Rule 1. Go to bed by midnight (at the latest)
Like Cinderella, I’ve made midnight my absolute last-call bedtime, and I’ve programmed everything in my life to make sure it happens. At 11:45, Alexa reminds me that it’s almost bedtime. At midnight, she shuts off the living room lights and the TV. It’s not much fun to stumble to bed in the dark—and I have the bruised shins to show for it.
Rule 2. Block out light
Light pollution is definitely a problem in my room, which gets bright sunlight as the sun rises, and light from a streetlight all night. It didn’t seem to bother my husband, but it bothered me. This one was easy to resolve: Now I wear a sleep mask to make sure it’s “lights out” until I wake up in the morning.
Rule 3. Declutter my bedroom
With an overstuffed closet, boxes stashed in a corner, and a treasure trove of tchotkes strewn across my dresser, you could call my bedroom cluttered. Inspired by a late-night binge session of “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” I decided to pare down my stuff and donate the things that didn’t spark joy. Afterward, I was able to get into bed and not feel like my own stuff was closing in on me.
Rule 4. Cut back on caffeine
I just indulged in a brand new fancy coffee maker, and it’s been hard to resist an afternoon cappuccino (or three). The solution? I bought a big bag of decaf and some fancy herbal tea, so I have afternoon beverage options that won’t keep me tossing and turning at midnight.
Rule 5. Exercise more
Getting aerobic exercise regularly can help you fall asleep faster, and get better quality sleep, research shows—and I definitely wasn’t doing enough in that department. I started taking a bootcamp class a few days a week, and on those days, I’m often heading to bed well before 11 pm and sleeping soundly through the night.
Rule 6. Limit electronics before bed
I log more face time with my laptop than anything else—and research has shown that exposure to blue light from computer screens may disrupt circadian rhythms. Because I can’t quite quit my laptop, I’ve put it into night mode to help reduce the amount of blue light. On most days, I try to turn off my TV before Alexa nudges me to start winding down for bed.
One week into my new sleep plan, and I had seven hours of sleep for two nights in a row, and that’s better than I was doing before. A few times, I even woke up feeling refreshed in the morning without the alarm clock. I can’t say I’ll never stay up until 2am, full-caf cappuccino in hand, to make a deadline (because, admittedly, that happened). But that’s the exception, not the rule. And when siren calls or snafus occur, at least I have a battle plan and know exactly how to get back on track.
I thought getting a new Nectar mattress was the answer to me getting better sleep, but it was just the beginning of my journey. The changes I needed to make were way more internal than I expected. Three months after getting my Nectar, I can proudly say that my sleep goals are a work in progress. And for me, that’s progress indeed.