How to Fall Asleep
Controlling Your Sleep Environment
Excess Light and Sleeplessness
Light tells your body it's time to wake up, so the darker your bedroom, the better. If an outdoor light shines into your room at night, purchase shades or curtains to block it out. Use a night light, if necessary, but keep it away from your immediate sleeping area. When traveling, eye shades can be useful in shutting out unwanted light.
Noises and pets can keep you awake all night unless you learn how to control your sleep environment.
White-out the Noise
Our sleeping environment is rarely sound-free. It may be plagued by the chugging and whistles of trains, the roar of planes overhead, the clamber or loud music of neighbors, even the incessant cawing of crows in the early morning. The best solution, of course, is to eliminate the noise, but that's often easier said than done. So instead of trying to eliminate all nighttime noise pollution, try masking the noise with a white-noise machine.
White-noise machines are sound-producing devices. With the push of a button, a white-noise machine makes a soft, whooshing noise that can drown out many of the sudden and unpredictable noises that can disturb sleep. The white noise is easy to get used to and is actually quite soothing. More sophisticated models can produce the sounds of rain, wind, waves or other nature sounds, although these may be too stimulating or distracting for some folks.
Unlike the television or a radio, the noise produced by a white-noise machine does not tend to awaken you from sleep because the volume is constant and the sound itself is unchanging. White-noise machines range in price from $50 to $150 and are available from specialty shops, mail-order catalogs and even some department stores.
Put Pets in Their Place
In this country, pets are often considered part of the family. In many households, that means Fifi and/or Fido share their owner's bed. While this sleeping situation can be comforting to both human and pet, it can also disrupt sleep.
Some pets like to nuzzle up during the night. As you move, they move with you. By morning, you may find that you have been herded onto a tiny patch of the mattress while your pet has sprawled out freely on the rest. And, like people, pets change position various times throughout the night, which can awaken you. Add another person to the bed along with a pet or two and you have enough movement to simulate eight hours of earthquake aftershocks.
Then there are pets that wake their owners just for company. (Ever awoken to find one of your pet's favorite toys on your pillow?) If any of these scenarios sounds familiar, it's time to bar your pet from your bed. If you must, keep the door to your bedroom closed when you sleep to keep your pet from wandering in.
Moving your pet from the bed may be painful. You might even feel this is an act of betrayal. In truth, your pet will not love you less, but you will live together in greater peace and comfort. And you will get a better night's sleep.
Leaving the familiarity of your home environment can add to your sleeping problems. The next page tells you how to get a good night's rest away from home.