The ideal sleeping environment is pitch black and dead silent. The lack of light makes sure that melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep, is not suppressed, whereas the lack of noise makes sure that you are not woken up in the middle of the night.
If you don’t have the luxury of having such a dark and quiet environment, then a sleeping mask and earplugs can do wonders for your sleep.
To determine if you need a sleeping mask, simply look around your bedroom for any external lights, uncovered glowing screens, blinking LEDs, etc. Also pay attention to any light coming in from your window at night. If you aren’t able to cover, turn off, or otherwise block out all of these lights, then you need a sleeping mask.
Noise level is a bit trickier to assess, since it often changes throughout the night. If you’re often woken up by sudden noises in the night (e.g., traffic, pets, thunder, etc.) then earplugs are definitely a good investment. Even if you don’t recall being woken up in the middle of the night, it’s possible that ambient noise is reducing the quality of your sleep. This means that, in most cases, earplugs are a great precaution.
Fortunately, both sleeping masks and earplugs are fairly inexpensive, and you can even get a matching pair in the Marketplace.
An alternative option is to simply create your own sleeping mask and earplugs. You can simulate a sleeping mask with a bandana, towel or piece of clothing, and you could replace earplugs with cotton balls. However, if you do use cotton, you must be very careful and gentle so that you don’t end up with bits of cotton stuck in your ears.
Also be aware that these do-it-yourself solutions may not be as effective as an actual sleeping mask and earplugs, so consider upgrading if they don’t seem to help.
Finally, remember that the whole point of wearing a sleeping mask and earplugs is to reduce the amount of light and noise in your bedroom. You could also accomplish this by getting blackout curtains for your windows and covering all lights and screens in your room with cloth. This combination should effectively remove all light from your bedroom.
Similarly, you could get a white noise machine, which is a device that generates a consistent soothing noise (like a fan or light rain). You might even accomplish this by using a real fan or other device that produces a similar noise. This white noise should normalize the sound level in your room so that you don’t hear any sudden noise changes throughout the night.
As you can see, there’s a lot of ways you can create a pitch black and dead silent sleeping environment. If you need help getting started, you can also sign up for the free SimpliFit mobile app to get coached through developing this and other lifestyle-improving habits.
Written by Kevin Packer
- How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? – National Sleep Foundation, http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
- Melatonin Overview – WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tc/melatonin-overview
- Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep – BioMed Central, http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/cc8965.pdf
- Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yewtreehouse/3270472478