Sleep is one of the activities I attach utmost importance to. Over the years I even convinced my husband of a much better sleep routine. Now that we have a baby, we value our sleep even more. So I talked to Rich and we came up with our 5 top tips for a great night’s sleep.
I can only speak for Rich and me, but we work much better if we get enough sleep. We are less grumpy and more effective during the day. Also, our energy lasts longer. Even now with the baby waking us up several times per night, we alternate in feeding her so that each of us gets a good amount of sleep. These are our secrets of a perfect sleep routine (with or without baby):
1. Know how much sleep you need and act accordingly
My perfect amount of night sleep is 9 to 9.5 hours. While that might sound a lot, I have also learned over the years that actually many adults need that many hours. Most only don’t want to admit it or take the time for that much sleep.
Figure out how much sleep you need and get that much sleep for several nights in a row. You should feel a big difference in your overall well-being.
2. Always get ready for bed earlier than you think
As we have found out that we need quite a lot of sleep, we go to bed rather early. This is actually one positive thing we learned thanks to the pandemic: initially we were so bored in the evening that we just went to bed earlier. Now we get up at about 6.30 a.m. So, counting back, we try to be in bed by 9.30 p.m. latest.
Even though we know these times, we still need to enforce getting ready for bed at 9 p.m. That usually takes longer that you think. There are always things we just then remember to do (even if it is only feeding the cats one more time). I also find that brushing teeth, taking off my makeup and putting on creams always takes a while.
3. The quality of your bed(ding) is important
Now that is not as easy as you might think – esp. in our bicultural household. While we easily agreed on a bed frame and our bed in a box, we still argue about the right duvet situation. I (the German side) need exactly one duvet. Rich (the American side) needs one bedsheet plus one blanket plus one comforter. Unfortunately, I find all those layers confusing and get totally entangled. So we have one duvet. We also spent more money for great pillows. In our case we love plump memory foam pillows.
As you spend many hours of your life in bed, invest in bedding of great quality. Get that memory foam topper. Buy the pillows and blankets you prefer. Try a weighted blanket – we both love them during the colder seasons.
4. Make sure your bedroom is dark
I simply cannot sleep in a bright room. Unless it is for an afternoon nap, in which case my body doesn’t care. When we moved into our apartment last summer, I was awake for almost the whole first night. That was because the offices in the building across from us left all their lights on. Plus, of course, the sun rises early in summer.
In general dark bedrooms are considered better for a healthy sleep. While Rich sleeps well with an eye mask, I hate anything on my face at night. So we purchased blackout shades. Those do not only keep out any light, but also noise (also important to us in the City) and heat in summers as well as the cold in winters.
5. Relax before falling asleep
I know it is not always easy, but it definitely helps to power down at least an hour before falling asleep. That includes that we try not to play or work at a computer anymore because the light is too bright and these kind of activities keep us too busy. Instead we usually watch a bit of TV until 9 p.m.
Once we lie in bed, we chat for a bit. But don’t start any big discussions or touch upon topics that agitate you. It should be some mellow talk. I then always read a few pages and fall asleep reading. Only because I read e-books – try it, but make sure you turn on the yellow light so that the screen doesn’t keep you awake. Oh, and I do light reading at night, nothing exciting.