How to sleep better in the city that never sleeps
Logging at least eight hours of sleep every night is tough when you live in NYC. But after spending the past six months studying the importance of shuteye and the dangerous effects sleep deprivation has on the brain, the aging process, and our overall health, sleep has definitely become more of a priority for me. Here are some ways even the most restless New Yorkers can sleep better in the city that never sleeps.
Use blackout curtains.
If you’re sensitive to light, hanging blackout curtains on your windows is a great way to turn your bedroom into a dark, peaceful sanctuary. This tip is especially helpful for any night owls who work on the other end of the clock and do most of their sleeping when the sun’s up. Blackout curtains are also handy for blocking out the glare from street lights, neighboring buildings, and random sirens that flash by in the middle of the night.
Block out the noise.
Speaking of sirens, NYC is renowned for its noise pollution – definitely a hindrance when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Invest in some comfortable ear plugs or a pair of noise cancelling headphones to silence those FDNY firetrucks, construction workers, or your roommate’s boyfriend who likes to blast the television while you’re trying to drift off to dreamland.
Give meditation a try.
Meditation isn’t exactly synonymous with the stereotypical NYC lifestyle, but it’s a habit more and more people are starting to adopt. A restless mind is one of the main reasons that people toss and turn throughout the night, and spending just a few minutes each day to refocus and calm your thoughts can make a huge difference. If you’re not sure where to start, try a guided meditation app like “Headspace” to get you started with quick 10-minute sessions. There’s even a guided meditation session specifically for commuting––perfect for those subway rides to the office.
Get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, and one of the side effects is sleepless nights. Try to get as much exposure to natural sunlight during the day. When winter arrives in NYC, supplement those limited sunny days by purchasing a specialized UV lamp –– a handy gadget that simulates the effect of the sun to ward off seasonal affective disorder. And when the weather is nice, take a stroll around your neighborhood, have a picnic, or walk along the water to soak up some rays.
Limit late-night noshes.
New Yorkers have mastered the art of artisan lattes, happy hour specials, and 2 a.m. trips to the neighborhood diner. But our coffee habits, after-work drinks, and late-night foodie sessions can wreak havoc on our ability to go to sleep at a decent hour. As a rule of thumb, avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. and don’t drink or eat too late in the evening. The last thing you need is your system working throughout the night to digest a heavy meal or process that extra round of cocktails.
Turn off the electronics.
Be honest –– do you have a habit of watching TV, reading online articles, or scrolling through your phone in order to wind down before bedtime? It’s time to unplug and put the electronics away. While it may seem like a good way to relax, the glare from those screens actually stimulates light receptors in our skin, which signals the brain to stay awake (the same way natural sunlight helps us wake up). So turn off the television, close your laptop, and put away your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and tuck yourself in with a book or magazine instead.