As those of us who live in Scandinavia know, there’s nothing more wonderful than when the sun finally comes out. Unless you’d like to go to sleep before 11:30 at night and wake up after 5:30, in which case you’re bang outta luck. If you’re finding yourself having a bit of trouble falling or staying asleep, try a few of these tips to ensure you wake up as rested as possible.
Block the Sun
…Not in a villainous C. Montgomery Burns-type way, though. Throughout the year, I keep a sleep mask next to my bed. I tend to reach for it more during the summer months and find it very useful. I use it so much, in fact, that I’m considering upgrading from my current Emirates Airline freebie to a prettier one. The Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s version is perfect for that hot-mess-meets-totally-effortless-glamour look.
But some people don’t like sleep masks or can’t sleep comfortably with them on. Instead, make sure you have good blinds or curtains on your windows. Those translucent gossamer drapes may look beautiful and sparkly during the day, but once you want to get some shut-eye they are nothing but trouble! If you control the light in your bedroom, you’ll be able to sleep much better.
Do you listen to music that you find restful? This probably isn’t the time for your usual work-out mix, but whatever floats your boat is just fine. Some listen to podcasts or books on tape; anything that sets you at ease. I love the podcast How Did This Get Made, but I’m usually laughing so hard that I can’t fall asleep with it on. One podcast that comes highly recommended is Sleep With Me, wherein a boring, droning story is told in a soothing voice to help you drift off. As one reviewer notes, “It’s weird, and it works.”
I find the smell of roses very comforting, so I regularly spray myself and my pillow with rose water – I particularly love the Mirins Copenhagen Rose Water Mist – and dust a bit of Yardley of London Red Roses talcum powder on my feet and hands. Do you have a smell or sensation that calms you? Perhaps it’s burning a candle, using a hand cream, applying a face mask, or resting on a silk pillow. Whatever it is, allow yourself to these self-soothing moments before or while getting into bed.
Cut out the screens – that blue light is only making it harder for you to sleep by stopping your pineal gland from releasing melatonin. At least an hour or two before bed, switch off your computer and try to look at your phone as little as possible. I know, I know. I struggle with this one so much. But it is possible and implementing it regularly can create a much more relaxed, restful atmosphere in the evenings.
Some ways to do this: have an alarm on your phone that reminds you to put down your devices at a certain hour. If the idea of closing your computer is simply unthinkable (we’ve all been there!), try f.lux. Once you download the software, it gradually lets off a yellow light as the night progresses, combating the blue light that keeps us awake. You can’t use f.lux on your phone or tablet, so try a Retina Shield Screen Protector on your devices, which directly blocks the blue light.
Take Your Vitamins & Minerals
It is important to surround yourself with things that make you feel comfortable before slumber as well as to make sure you fill up your body with foods that will let you get to sleep. As I’m sure most of you have experienced, foods can act for or against the will to sleep. Some foods that will facilitate sleep are: fish (especially salmon & tuna, which boost the vitamin B6 that is instrumental in producing melatonin), jasmine rice, cherry juice, kale and chickpeas.
Fermented cheeses stimulate brain activity and alcohol reduces REM sleep, so try to stay away from these foods (as well as caffeine, obviously) for a few hours before heading to bed.
We’re Not Doctors
If you’re really having trouble sleeping, these small changes may not do much for you. There have been amazing advances in sleep technology; everything from memory foam pillows to apps that measure your REM sleep, but they’re no substitute for proper medical advice. If you’ve tried a few changes to your routine and are still consistently unable to sleep, please consult a doctor. Sleep is important – take care of yourself!
Do you have tips that help you sleep through the season of the midnight sun? Let us know in the comments!