The secret to good sleep

This morning I asked Twitter if anyone knew the secret to getting a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling refreshed. Last night I had no trouble dropping off and I slept through, uninterrupted, until my alarm went off but felt no better for it. Surely if you sleep well, you should find getting up in the morning easy? People were quick to respond with tips, hints and requests that I share the secret if I found it! Phil told me he has a WakeMate on the way and will report back on whether it helps. A couple of people suggested that orgasms help you to sleep, as does the slightly more sedate option of a night time milky drink.

The ever-helpful Gert gave me a rather extensive list of things to assist the perfect eight hours of sleep: early night, no alcohol, low caffeine, unwind for an hour or two beforehand, make sure your bedroom’s cool and your mattress isn’t saggy, plus… you should ideally sleep alone. Hmm, well I can probably blame last night’s cocktails for this morning’s sleepiness, but I don’t know if it’s a list I’d be willing to adopt on a permanent basis! It seems the secret to good sleep often seems to be to have a bit less fun, but Pete offered me a very interesting explanation for the problem over on his Tumblr:

During the day, the colour temperature of the sunlight is between 5,000 and 6,500 K. These high numbers correspond to cool, bluish colours (which is initially a bit counter-intuitive, because one thinks of the sun as being a fairly hot thing, but bear with me). Once the sun sets, the light sources that we have typically surrounded ourselves with (moonlight at 4,100 K, candles and other flames at < 2,000 K) correspond to warmer colours - oranges and reds. So we’ve evolved to respond to these colour temperatures in a totally sensible way, which is that cool colours wake us up, and warm colours relax us. We’re awake during the day, and sleepy at night. So you can imagine what happens when you bombard yourself with cool colours at night time. It keeps you awake, you take longer to get to sleep, and you wake up unrefreshed.

I can definitely understand how using a computer late at night can prevent me from sleeping well, but this explanation reveals a bit more. It seems that, although my Lumie is a great idea for getting off to sleep, its sunrise function probably uses the wrong light temperature to be fully useful in the morning. Perhaps I just need a butler or maid to wake me with a cup of tea and open the blinds for me in the morning? Sounds like I’m back in dream territory again!

5 thoughts on “The secret to good sleep

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  1. Cheers for the mention. Wakemate actually arrived a couple of hours after I mentioned it, so should be able to report back in fairly short order . . .

    I've considered a wakey-uppy-lighty-thing like yours – how long have you had it? Noticed any positive benefits?

    The f.lux program that Pete mentioned in his Tumblr sounds interesting. Shame there's no equivalent for TVs or phones at the moment, though I try to avoid both as a matter of course after 10pm or so. Definitely a selling point for a Kindle 🙂

  2. I never find that caffeine at night affects me – I've been known to have a very strong coffee just before going and flumping out totally.

    Unwinding depends on your method of unwinding, really. But I'm not going to be rude. Honest.

  3. Cool room but warm duvet. The best night's sleep I had recently was when I was wrapped up in 2 duvets. My boyfriend said I was like a nuclear reactor, but I awoke very refreshed.

    The previous night I'd woken up cold (under only one duvet!) and had an awful sleep. And I totally agree about sleeping alone, that always helps!

    @Phevans For the winter, a sunrise alarm clock is a godsend!

  4. If you use a computer before you head to bed, I'd recommend F.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/), which changes the colour temp of your monitor at sunset to a warmer shade, which helps.

    Also, I find the central thing that helps me get a good nights sleep is simply to do it at the same time until the same time. After a while, instead of going to bed because it's bedtime, your brain adapts to the belief that now is bedtime and you should sleep (And, correspondingly, helps in the morning.). This may only work for my brain, but I pass it on anyway.

  5. @Phevans We got our Lumie when we moved into our current place as the bedrooms have blackout blinds which made waking up in the winter impossible! Works reasonably well, and has white noise to accompany the 'sunset' which is strangely soothing.

    @LyleD4D Caffeine doesn't affect me either. Can drive home on Red Bull and then fall straight to sleep once my head hits the pillow 🙂

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