Not getting enough sleep? You’re not alone.
According to a recent study, more than one-quarter of the U.S. population isn’t getting enough shut-eye. Couple that statistic with the fact that the windows in your new city digs are right above the noisy street corner, and you and your roommate are probably in for some long, sleepless nights.
The good news? It’s absolutely possible to take back your night by making a few tweaks to your sleep routine. Here’s what sleep experts had to say about getting more shut eye when you live in a loud city.
1. Invest in blackout curtains.
Dying for another excuse to redecorate? Now you have one. If you’re being kept awake by the tacky bright lights from the 24-hour diner across from your building, you’re in luck. Wellness coach Jamie Logie says blackout curtains not only block out super bright lights that interrupt your body’s ability to produce sleep hormones, but they also keep the city noise out.
“They’re dark and heavy enough to help block sound,” he says. “The darker the room, the more melatonin your body secretes naturally to improve your natural circadian rhythm and overall sleep quality.”
More on how redecorating can help you get better Zzzzs here.
2. Try white noise.
Replacing sound with sound might seem counterproductive, but behavioral sleep specialist Dr. Richard Shane has found that many of his city patients respond well to white noise machines.
“A white noise machine is a neutral background sound that masks other distracting sounds and makes sleep easier,” he explains.
No worries if this fancy gadget is out of your budget. Shane recommends downloading MyNoise, a free app that offers close to 100 sounds, including white noise and rain sounds to lull you to Dreamland.
3. Turn off your electronics.
The noise outside your building might be what wakes you up at 4 a.m., but according to board certified sleep physician Dr. Robert Rosenberg, having devices with bright lights in your bedroom are likely preventing you from falling back asleep easily. Get the blackout curtains, yes, but make sure you’re putting the lights out indoors too.
“Keeping your bedroom dark helps your body create melatonin,” he says. “That means you have to turn off the laptop, iPad and iPhone, and don’t fall asleep with your TV on.”
So you can Netflix and chill all you want — just make sure it’s not in your bedroom.
4. Get earplugs.
As much as you love the hustle and bustle of city life during the day, it’s totally okay to admit it’s a nuisance at night. You’ve probably found yourself putting your pillow over your ears in hopes of blocking out the street noise, but there’s a better way. Shane says that there are earplugs specifically designed to help with this issue.
“Earplugs are usually made out of foam rubber or silicone,” he says. “However, the foam rubber earplugs are usually cylindrical shaped, so they can poke into your ear if you lie on your side. Silicone earplugs are soft like putty, which shape to your ear like custom-fit earplugs.”
5. Set the right temperature.
You get it: It needs to be dark and quiet to get good sleep. But another simple modification you can make to your bedroom to help you stay asleep is to set your thermostat to an optimal temperature, suggests Rosenberg.
“A drop in body temperature is a major signal to the brain to enter sleep. Most studies have shown that a temperature between 62 and 70 degrees is best for sleep. If the room is too warm, our core body temperature will not drop.”
If you’re stuck dealing with an overheating radiator in the winter or a lackluster A/C in the summer, crack open a window or invest in a fan to circulate the air. Falling asleep in a city that never sleeps doesn’t have to be a struggle. Use these tips to create the ideal sleep environment so that you and your roommate can get the sleep you need each night and worry about the real problems.