The first two parts of our Sleep Improvement Plan offered practical tips to improve the quality of your rest. Part 1 looked at the pre-bedtime ritual, suggesting ways to wind down, let go of the day and get into sleep flow. Part 2 was about finetuning your sleep approach: changing your attitude to sleep, tweaking your sleep rhythm and optimizing your sleeping space. Hopefully these tips are already helping you get the rest you need.
But sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, things don’t go right. Perhaps you’re sleeping somewhere unfamiliar, or maybe noisy neighbors gave you a restless night. How can you optimize sleep in these tricky situations? In this third part of the Sleep Improvement Plan, developed by Dr. Roy Raymann of Endel’s scientific partner SleepScore Labs, you’ll learn how to optimize your sleep when things get complicated. Read on for tips on sleeping on the move, having the perfect nap, and improving sleep through physical exercise.
Bring your own pillow
Sooner or later, travel might take you away from your bedroom. Sleeping in a new place can be tough. This is because your brain has to be sure that you’re in a safe place before it can enter deep sleep. A different mattress and pillow, unfamiliar sounds, and even new smells can all keep your body from relaxing at night. This makes such a difference in sleep quality that sleep researchers call it “the first night effect.” When conducting a sleep lab study, they typically discard any data collected during this unsettled night. Luckily, there’s an easy way to trick your brain into feeling at home: bring your own pillow with you. If you’re feeling bold (and if you have the space), you could even add a blanket or duvet cover to your luggage.
Power nap or full siesta?
Napping is a tricky thing to get right. But it can be a valuable tool to help you top up after a disrupted night. For a quick boost, take a power nap of no longer than 10–20 minutes. By keeping you in the light sleep stage, a short nap like this will have little impact on your nightly sleep, while giving you the extra kick you need. Don’t try to power nap for too long, though: if you slip into deep sleep, you’ll wake up feeling groggy and less energized.
What about when you’re truly exhausted? Perhaps a neighbor’s party kept you awake, or you’re a victim of the “first night effect” mentioned above? In this case, a longer “siesta” of around 90 minutes can allow you to cycle through all the sleep stages. This will provide more mental and physical refreshment, and you should be able to wake up from it more naturally, leaving you feeling refreshed and energized.
Exercising outdoors has two important effects on your sleep. Firstly, natural light sends important signals to your brain, telling you when to feel awake or sleepy. This is crucial for your circadian rhythm, as mentioned in part 2. Secondly, exercising uses up the body’s energy, giving you that wholesome tired feeling. Both of these factors contribute to sound and consistent sleep. If you miss out on them, you might not feel ready for bed when the time comes.
Daily exercise can start with a few simple steps: perhaps a short walk at lunchtime or after work. Endel’s Move soundscape can be your companion. Tailor-made for walking or running, it’s the optimal sound environment for your daily exercise, helping you feel grounded and connected with sounds that react to your step count.
Did you find these tips helpful? Read the first 2 parts of the Sleep Improvement Plan for more advice on getting the rest you need.