This is the second and last part of a short series on suggestions for improving sleep without spending a ton of cash. I published part 1 yesterday. We’re continuing with the second half of suggestions provided by Melinda Fulmer from MSN Money. Here are the remaining tips.
6. Set your thermostat between 60 to 68 degrees. A cool, but not cold, temperature helps most people to sleep better.
I always liked to sleep with the thermostat at 72 degrees. In college, my girlfriend liked it much cooler to snuggle under multiple layers of blankets. I preferred not much covering of any kind. I’ve grown to enjoy the layers but I still prefer “freedom.”
7. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. Don’t watch television, read or fill out paperwork in bed.
I moved the computer out of my bedroom a few years ago and I haven’t had a television in my bedroom since the time my only room was a dorm. I do read in bed occasionally, but that hasn’t caused much of a problem. I often just pick up the latest personal finance book I’m reviewing and in many cases a chapter or two gets me in the mood to doze off.
8. Eliminate as much as noise and light as you can from the room. Close the blinds, turn off the TV and tell that snoring spouse to roll over on his or her side. If you have a fan, turn it on to drown out street noise.
I don’t let my girlfriend snore, and hopefully I don’t snore too much, either. When my downstairs neighbors decide to party until 5:00 am, I get them to quiet down eventually.
9. When your head hits the pillow, imagine a relaxing setting or favorite memory, rather than thinking about sleep.
I have no idea what I’m thinking about when I fall asleep. My mind wanders, and it’s usually not relaxing.
10. If that doesn’t work, try a relaxation exercise, such as tensing and relaxing each section of your body from head to toe as you breathe deeply. Or try counting backward from 100.
The counting backward doesn’t work for me, but I have perfected a relaxation exercise. It’s similar to the suggested one above, but they have the technique reversed. You must start from your toes and go all the way to your head (including down your arms when you get to your shoulders). You must tense and relax each muscle twice and picture a relaxing scene. The scene I use for myself is a beach at night. By the time I get to the top of my head, I’ve lost my sensation of gravity. It can be a very relaxing and effective technique, and usually results in floating and sinking feelings. I’ve administered it to others with much success.
I really believe sleep is important to a full-functioning mind and body. In the past, I’ve had a boss who disagreed with me completely. He was happy sleeping 2 to 3 hours each day and believed that sleep was a waste of time when that time could be better spent working on great projects that help kids and save the world.
Since then, he’s discovered that balance is needed once in a while and humans are designed to require sleep.
What techniques do you use when you’re having problems sleeping, and how much would you spend to fix your sleeping habits?
Updated May 8, 2008 and originally published May 4, 2006.