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My college roommate has always said about me, “You are the most sleep-deprived person I’ve ever met!”
This is unfortunately probably more true now as a mom of four kids (who all never slept well) and a small business owner than it was in college.
As much as I read about the importance of getting more sleep, to me it always means getting less done. I’ve even said to people, “Sleep is about to become the new kale.” But I’m not on board yet personally. Knowing I might be sleeping all wrong isn’t new.
To optimize sleep and be a healthier human being, people always say to
All 3 of these would be various circles of hell for me, and so even when I am falling asleep reading my preschooler a book, when I realize I’ve been staring at the same sentence on my computer for five minutes without making any progress, or when I snap at my kids because I was very short on sleep two nights before, I still think, “I can handle it. I can get by on less sleep than is recommended so that I can get more done than the average person.”
That’s how it works for me, by the way, never super-tired on day one after a night of less than 4 or 5 hours of sleep, but pretty much a hot mess of anger, droopy eyelids and foggy brain on day two.
But I read and listen to enough about the importance of sleep that I’ve been willing to make some tiny baby steps…just don’t ask me to actually sleep more or do some sort of 15 to 30-minute wind-down before climbing under the covers. I don’t have time for that! <<This is bad advice. Don’t do what I do! See “sleep-deprived” and “angry” above.
Today let’s talk about sleep quality tools for rookies, and by rookie, of course, I mean those slightly angry, head-nodding people who are in the denial boat with me.
None of these five tools will cost you more than $20 or take more than 30 seconds of your time. You’re welcome.
If you can’t view the video above, click 5 Tips to Improve Sleep WithOUT Spending More Time in Bed! to see it directly on YouTube.
I don’t actually have trouble falling asleep (see “most sleep-deprived person I’ve ever met,” above). It’s easy to fall asleep when your poor body is at such a deficit!
Recently, however, I started doing some simple things to take care of my circadian rhythm, since it will be with me for the rest of my life and has been so sorely neglected for the first 30 plus years.
Blue light blocker glasses, with the super attractive orange lenses, were my first foray into the world of better sleep.
Whenever friends tell me they have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night, this is the first thing I recommend. See my full review here.
Your circadian rhythm, of course, is designed to oscillate, to go up and down just as the sun does. In the daytime, the sunlight oscillates your circadian rhythm in one direction, and when that light goes away, (at night for most of human history,) your circadian rhythm winds down as well.
Enter electrical lights and screens.
Now our circadian rhythms are very confused because somehow the sun is still “up” no matter when we go to bed, even if it’s midnight or one in the morning!
The light emitting from your lamps, smartphones, computer and TV screens tells your eyeballs to tell your brain, “It’s still daytime and time to be awake!”
Most specifically, it’s the blue light part of the spectrum that mimics sunlight the most.
That’s why wearing orange glasses cancels this blue light and convinces your eyes that perhaps the sun really has set.
Note that even if you have no apparent trouble sleeping, your circadian rhythm may be becoming off bit by bit, until suddenly you have a serious sleep problem. Just like consuming a food or putting a personal product on your skin containing a carcinogen doesn’t result in stage 4 cancer within the next five minutes, affronts to your circadian rhythm might build up over time. You need to care for your circadian rhythm all the time and try to prevent buildup of disease.
So can you create a habit of putting orange glasses on when the sun goes down?
I tend to put them on after I tuck my youngest children, ages 4 and 7, into bed. It took a couple of months to build the habit into a daily one, but now I almost feel odd at night if I don’t wear them. I’ve even worn them out to restaurants and to visit friends!
You could also try setting a reminder on your phone…ironic, right?
Blue blocker glasses are available in quite inexpensive versions, which typically look like safety goggles from a factory in orange, or a bit more expensive, but still not prohibitive, for the more sexy, you just look like you got new glasses, variety.
An even easier step before investing in orange glasses is to install f.lux software on your computer and turn on night mode on your smartphone.
These programs shift the temperature of your screen to reduce the blue light in synchronization with sunrise and sunset.
Best news? You don’t have to remember anything after the initial installation. If the hue gets a little orange, you found the right one.