Sleep Well This Summer, Part 3: Keep Your Bedroom Quiet

It’s been a while since my last entry; too much going on this summer!  I hope you all are staying cool; it’s been a scorcher throughout most of the U.S. this month.

In recent entries we tackled how to keep your bedroom dark and cool.  I’m finishing off this summer sleep writing triad today with some tips on how to keep your sleeping environment quiet during these summer months.

Summer presents some challenges to sleeping in a peaceful quiet place.  It’s light out late, it’s vacation time, the kids are out of school, and the heat’s got people a little crazy.  So there are block parties, summer traffic, teenagers out raising a ruckus in their back yards, barbecues that run late . . . you know, all the stuff that’s great fun when you’re in the fun, but not so fun when you’re in your bedroom trying to get some winks.

As I’ve mentioned before, sleeping during the summer months is best achieved if you keep your sleeping environment dark, cool, and quiet.  Here are some suggestions to make for a quiet place in which to sleep.

1.  Fix broken or uneven windows and door and window frames, basically anything that can cause a draft.  Things that leak in unwelcome air will also leak in unwanted noise.  Doing so will probably reduce your energy bills too.

2.  Fortify your windows to insulate them from noise.  Try thicker glass or double-paned glass.  A cheaper and easier alternative would be to place thick, black curtains in front of the windows.

3.  Try a little “white noise,” particularly if you live in an area in which outside noise is unavoidable (train tracks, a busy intersection, or what have you).  A fan works well, because the convective effect of the circulating air cools you down as well.

4.  If you live in an apartment, request a corner apartment farthest away from the street.  And preferably as far away from loud, selfish, obnoxious neighbors as possible.

5.  Sleep in a room closest to the center of your dwelling.  The more drywall that separates you from the outside world, and the fewer windows in the room, the quieter in general your sleeping environment will be.

6.  Sleep in the basement, if you must.  Nothing like surrounding earth to insulate you from the noise and heat in the summertime.

7.  Though earplugs may be helpful, I personally advise against this, simply because you want to be able to hear potential problems around the house:  a crying baby, for example, a fire alarm, etc.

8.  If your bed partner snores substantially, discuss this with your bed partner and consider informing his or her physician.

9.  This is embarrassingly obvious, but turn off whatever beeping, pinging, whirring, droning electronic gadgets you have in your bedroom if you possibly can.

10.  Turn off TV’s, radios, and iPods.  Many people feel like they can’t sleep without background noise from such gadgets, but let me assure you that the reason why this feels this way is because of simply habituation:  your body does not biologically require such noises, but if you’ve had some sounds in the room at night for years, it feels like you need them when you don’t.  Turn off these devices and you should fairly quickly come to enjoy the silence.

11.  Particularly if you work night shifts, have open discussions with your family and loved ones about how to keep the noise of other people from disrupting your sleep.  As with most other situations, it’s always best to communicate openly and honestly about such topics!

Enjoy the rest of our summer, everyone!  I wish you deep, comfortable sleep!

 

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Woman Falls Onto Train Tracks After Falling Asleep Standing Up!

Here’s another scary recent incident in the news pertaining to sleepiness.

In Prague, Czech Republic, a woman in a train station appeared to fall asleep while standing and waiting for her train.  Take a look at this.

This video is fascinating.  From a couple different camera angles you witness this woman gradually giving in to the relentless pressure of sleepiness.  She slowly leans forward as slumber starts to overtake her.  She rights herself briefly in an attempt to regain alertness, but she then walks forward a bit and eventually leans in again, knees buckling, until her body weight finally forces her to tumble onto the train tracks.  Miraculously, she lands in the deep groove between the tracks, and  though the train rolls over her she reportedly gets up, dusts herself off, and walks away after the train departs from the station!

According to reports, upon being questioned her following the incident, this woman told law enforcement officers that she was “merely tired.”  She refused a medical evaluation and breathalyzer test.

This is a dramatic example of the inevitable effects of daytime sleepiness, regardless of cause.  You may have untreated sleep apnea or you may be simply chronically sleep deprived, but the bottom line is that a primary response of your body to poor-quality or poor-quantity sleep is that at some point you will be forced to sleep, including in inopportune times or places and in very dangerous situations.  I’ve had patients, for example, who have come to my clinic because they’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel of their 18-wheel trucks, at the controls of their motorcycles on the freeway, in the cab of their cranes, and in front of industrial saws.  No matter how much you try and no matter how bad your insomnia may be, your body will give in eventually and oblige you to sleep.  Remember, sleep is a required biological requirement; you absolutely need your sleep, and your body will make you get it one way or another.

Have a great Independence Day, everyone!