Every time we go camping I sleep like the dead. When we traveled around Australia between Toughest and OCRWC24, I must have gotten a solid nine hours per night of restorative sleep. This despite the fact we were crammed into hard little beds in a camper with poor shades and too few blankets.

Part of it is likely the fact that in nature, your hormones become intimately connected with the sun and the coolness that sinks in after it sets. For most of human history we fell asleep without clocks after all.

Back in Metro Vancouver however, I always have to work a little harder for solid shut eye.

Here’s what I do…

Temperature

Your body temperature naturally drops around bed time. This drop is all part of your body’s natural rhythm. Too often, people take a hot bath and then load up the flannel to try to comfy themselves to sleep. But that rarely works. Instead, try having a nice hot bath, but turn the cold on to rinse. Then pull in under a reasonable amount of covers.

Light

Have you ever slept outside in the middle of the forest? There is no light. None. It’s crazy unnatural for us to be exposed to light at 2am. Aim for NO light. I cover clocks, pull my blackout shades tight and wear a mask when travelling.

You’ve also likely heard by now that the blue light emitted by screens is the worst. And it’s totally true. You can get a blue light screen diffuser for your phone or change the settings to night time mode. But realize these strategies are just mitigating the issues. Try to power off if possible.

Sound

Most people respond to a totally sound sterile environment… but recently I had a ton of stress in my life and my mind would just race. To shut if off, I started listening to sleep aids at a barely audible volume. There are tons of different noises… and even podcasts and audio recordings where speakers drone on in attempt to lull you to sleep. They’re just interesting enough to make you want to follow them… but not interesting, or cohesive enough, to keep you awake. One go however, I got hooked on a piece about sheep breeds and it actually kept me up. I now frequent the Sleep with Me podcast. Man is that guy boring.

Just make sure to keep your phone on airplane mode with the screen off. There’s good evidence that having a cell signal so close to your body at night is bad news. I personally even try to minimize the amount of electronics plugged in to my bedroom.

Pillows and Linens

I’m a big fan of a firm but soft mattress and a body pillow. Perhaps a throw back to when I broke my back and had to stay side-lying 24/7, the body pillow would allow me to totally relax in the c-spine position. I still feel like it totally relaxes me when I sink onto it.

There are a myriad of different linens and pillows. Find the combination that makes you sleepy.

As a side note, I used to wake up with a crooked neck every few weeks until I started sleeping with a water pillow. It literally changed my life.

Smell

Ever woken up to the smell of coffee? Like really woken up? Scents can have a more profound impact on you than you imagine. I infuse lavender and even rub some on my eye mask when I travel.

Nutrition and Hydration

I make sure to have my last meal about three hours before bed. Similar to a track workout, I don’t want to be tummy-rumbling hungry, but I don’t want food sitting in my stomach stealing digestion energy either.

Similarly with water, you don’t want up go to bed thirsty… but well… we’ve all chugged a litre of water before bed at some point…

Routine

So you’ve figured all these pieces out! Yeah! Now you have to put them together into a nightly routine.

I generally start with a hot tub, bathe the kids, have a cold bath myself, read them books while infusing some lavender and drinking a small cup of chaga tea, then nodd off. It helps to keep the same routine at the same time each night.

I’d love to hear about how you enhance your sleep. Leave a comment below 🙂

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