Surprising Sleep Stealers

by Jennifer Kelly Geddes

The AC hums, your husband snores and garbage trucks clank outside the window. Add in kids, work, housekeeping — even a dog — and it’s no wonder you’re unable to properly rest.

If you’re faced with an uphill battle at bedtime, it’s time to take a closer look at your environment. How you set the stage for slumber is as critical as powering down your laptop and nixing caffeine late in the day.

Here’s 5 important considerations when trying to get the best sleep.

The windows:

Contrary to what you might think, complete darkness isn’t the right choice for everyone.

For some people, the tiniest glimmer of light from the window can be a disruption, while others sleep well (and wake up refreshed) with opaque coverings — or even with the blinds wide open. Experiment to see which choice works best for you.

The clock:

Are you staring at it all night long? If you’ve set it—just forget it.

But if you can’t keep from checking the time, put the clock in the bedside table drawer or place it under the bed (though still within arm’s reach). Or have your partner take charge of the alarm and keep the clock across the room on the other side of the bed.

The sound:

All kinds of things go bump in the night, something you already know if you’re a light sleeper. But even if you’re not, trying out a pair of earplugs might make a big difference in the amount of sleep you get.

You’ll block the radiator’s hiss, the dog’s jingling tags and car alarms that invariably go off in the middle of the night.

The dog:

And speaking of dog tags, if Fido is a regular member of your nighttime nest, consider making a change.

Putting aside issues of hygiene, dogs (and cats) tend to groom, scratch, turn in circles, jump around, cry to be fed, walked or put outside—all at 2 AM. Of course it’s cozy to snuggle up to a pet, but if yours is preventing you from catching zzz’s, put your pooch in another room.

The stress:

If you’ve addressed all of the above and still can’t seem to drop off to sleep, count the number of the balls you’re juggling and find a way to reduce the load.

Taking on too much (school committees, volunteer work, pet duties) can weigh on the psyche and interfere with much-needed rest.

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