July 07, 2022 4 min read
Summer is here, and so are the hot nights, where we’re tossing and turning and waking up constantly, unable to fall back asleep. OneEarth recently published a study showing that with climate change, sleep will be more negatively impacted, especially in hot locations, for the elderly, women, and those in lower-income countries (Minoret al., 2022). So what should we do to reduce how badly we are impacted by these changes (other than solving for climate change)?
Optimizing my sleep environment has been one of the most accessible and significant changes to have a higher quality of life and more consistently refreshing sleep. We sleep for about one-third of our lives, so it is just as essential to ensure this part of our life is as healthy as other elements, including our nutrition, exercise, mind, etc. The American Heart Association just addedsleep as a factor for heart disease (Northwestern 2022).
High quality sleep is imperative to good health, and large-scale studies have shown that poor sleep impacts productivity loss and employers' costs (Rosekindet al., 2010). I’ve looked into various remedies and ways I can improve my sleep and wanted to share a few tips and tricks that have helped me personally have higher quality sleep.
1) Optimize your lighting.
Have you ever noticed yourself getting sleepy right at sunset? This is our circadian rhythms in action. Light dramatically impacts how we function, and irregular light environments lead to circadian rhythm and sleep problems, even negatively impacting mood (LeGateset al., 2014). While we may need light during the night before sleep, there are ways to trick ourselves with lighting to prepare ourselves for better sleep. The Philips Hue lighting is a smart lighting control to start dimming your lights depending on when you set your bedtime. This allows the environment to become more yellow and slowly dim to prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Other methods include having “night mode” on your phone or using apps like f.lux. for your computer and night shift for your smartphone.
When you’re actually ready to sleep, darkness is essential! Whether through eye masks or blackout curtains, making sure there isn’t light coming through allows your body to produce melatonin, helping your circadian rhythm and staying asleep. I also use black electrical tape on overly bright electronic lights.
2) Keep the optimal temperature.
Research has shown that having optimal body temperature during sleep will allow for high-quality sleep by fewer wake-ups or wake-ups at the incorrect time (Lacket al., 2008). Our body requires cooling on average of 2 degrees Fahrenheit during sleep. We must keep that temperature low during sleep and slowly warm the body to wake up most smoothly. If these temperatures are off, this can lead to poor sleep. Smart temperature control systems, like Moona, a smart cooling pillow pad, allow for temperature personalization and control based on the body’s needs during sleep. Because a large portion of temperature control in the body is through the head and neck, the Moona device has been phenomenal for keeping my head cool and ultimately helping me feel a reduced body temperature throughout the night.
3) Put your phone distractions away.
I have a “do not disturb” setting on my phone every night to ensure I am not receiving notifications as early as one hour before bed. You can actually preprogram these schedules on your phone ahead of time so you don't need to think about it every day. Better yet, not to be texting or scrolling through social media and grabbing a book to read instead. Luckily spam callers haven’t been too active at night, but unnecessary distractions can cause us to become alert, impacting our ability to fall asleep. A study found that an increase in bedtime mobile phones are associated with more fatigue and later rise times in younger people less than 41 years, and shorter sleep duration for those 66+ (Exelmanset al., 2016). It’s essential to keep these phone distractions away and focus on the task at hand…getting good sleep!
4) Minimize noise.
Living in the hustle and bustle of the city provides noise in environments that are not directly in your control. Noise can create objectively poor sleep through more awakenings, shortening sleep, altering sleep stages, and even reducing one’s perception of sleep quality (Muzet, 2007). I'm not a fan of ear plugs, but white noise machines have been a great way to flush out the noise and provide a calming sound to allow for better sleep. White noise has a positive effect on sleep for those complaining of high levels of environmental noise and have difficulty, in a2021 study. I use my Moona with the smart white noise setting to keep the audio levels consistent throughout the night.
5) Control the humidity in the air.
The air can be more or less dry, depending on where you live. I'm in Southern California, and it's definitely drier during the summer months, causing my skin and eyes to feel irritated at night and even when waking up with the redness in my eyes (not ready to show my face in a morning Zoom call). Humidifiers have been a great way to ensure moisture throughout the night, especially if the air is still dry or the air conditioner is drying out your room. Just be sure to not humidify the room too much or you will get dew and moisture build up. I use my Moona to track the humidity and ensure that the settings on my humidifier are in the right range (30-50% according to theSleep Foundation).
I hope some of these five tricks will help you as you’re trying to set up the optimal environment this summer! Would love to know your tips on how you create optimal sleep conditions.Send us a notewith your thoughts orlearn more about how Moona can improve your sleep environment.