Swift | Silent | Deadly

Some Tools to Help You Sleep More and Better

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I have talked and written before about getting enough sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important. I will talk a bit about why getting a good night’s sleep is so important, and I will talk about some tools to help you sleep that have helped me get more and qualitatively better sleep.

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Why Sleep is Important

Sleep is not given its due in the United States, or perhaps in the mod ern world generally. Your body goes through some incredible changes while you sleep. The idea of “burning it at both ends” is a very popular one, and we idolize the guy who gets four hours of sleep to chase money. This is an incredibly unhealthy way to live. Sleep is not a “crutch,” it is a necessity for health and high performance.

Sleep improves your health in inestimable ways, and “short sleep” (less than 6 hours a night) is now considered a carcinogen. Chronic sleep deprivation is closely correlated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, all forms of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, plenty of good sleep improves your physical performance. It helps build and maintain muscle. Sufficient sleep significantly reduces your risk for diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Getting plenty of good sleep improves your sex drive and performance. Cognitive function is drastically impacted by sleep.

For an entertaining and in-depth look in to sleep, read one of my favorite books: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD.

Basic Sleep Hygiene

Getting better sleep is mostly a result of behavioral changes. If you’re serious about improving your sleep (and you absolutely should be!) you probably need to make some of these changes. Some of them are:

  • Limit Caffeine Intake: Though we take it for granted because it is so common, caffeine is a powerful stimulant. For better sleep (and to restore the punch that it once gave you) don’t drink caffeine after noon.
  • Limit Alcohol Intake: I really enjoy bourbon but when I got serious about getting good sleep, I cut way back. Cut back on the booze and try to get your drinks in well before bedtime (ideally no later than 6 PM).
  • Cut Back on Electronics Before Bed: Try to get ride of the stimulating electronics and blue light before bedtime. TV is better than phones and computers, and books are better than TV.
  • Sleep in a Cool Environment: Your body is programmed to respond to a drop in nighttime temperature. I turn the heat down to 55 at night. That’s pretty chilly, but I sleep like a stone.
  • Sleep in a Dark Environment: light is the enemy of sleep, period. Make your room as dark as possible. More on this in a moment.
  • Reserve Your Bedroom for Sleep and Sex: don’t watch TV, don’t scroll social media, don’t hang out in your bedroom. If your room is reserved for sleep and sex ONLY you prime your brain for sleep when you go into the bedroom.
  • Set a Bedtime Routine: Create a ritual around bedtime, and get up at the same time every morning.

You can also listen to me and Rich Brown talk about sleep hygiene on our Across the Peak episode on same.

Tools to Help You Sleep

As we have seen, a lot of the factors around getting a good night’s sleep are behavioral, but some are environmental. You can improve your sleep environment by giving it a little care and attention. I highly prioritize sleep, and below are some of the tools I use to help me get a good night’s sleep.

Gorilla Tape

Gorilla Tape is in all of my survival kits and lists of things you should have on hand for an emergency. But did you know it is also one of my favorite tools to help you sleep? Obviously there’s the old joke that, “silence is golden, but duct tape is silver,” but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Modern bedrooms are full or annoying light sources. TVs, power strips, chargers, and everything else seems to have a glowing LED, letting you know it is on and/or charging.

All of these LEDs add up to a lot of light in your bedroom. Darkness is really important for good sleep, so I used Gorilla Tape to cover these LEDs. This one, single step will make your bedroom darker and probably modestly improve your sleep. I like Gorilla Tape specifically because it is very sticky and it blocks light well.

Light Blocking Curtains

Darkness is critical to good sleep! The darker it is, the better you will sleep. I moved to a new place recently, and although it is waaay out in the country and surrounded by cow pasture, there is a “security light” on a light pole in my driveway. This made the bedroom very, very bright. I put up regular curtains but this didn’t help much. Next, I tried several things and finally went for broke with 100% blackout curtains.

I ordered some FEQO Blackout Curtains and have been extremely satisfied. In fact, this is the single biggest tool I have employed to help me sleep. This isn’t so much a curtain as a piece of material that you stretch out over the window. Silver on one side to reflect light, and black on the other, this material makes my room VERY dark.

The silver isn’t super noticeable from the outside, and with a standard curtain on the inside you don’t notice the blackout material, yet it keeps the room in near-total darkness. The material was easy to cut to the fit of each window and hanging them was easy with the provided adhesive Velcro tabs. Gaps were filled with – what else? – Gorilla Tape!

Noise Machine

Generally quiet is preferred over noise, but white noise can help you sleep. White noise can help cover up and smooth out sounds that would keep you awake, like passing traffic. It can also be a boon in very quiet environments where the slightest sound will snap you out of your slumber. I recently embraced this due to how eerily quiet it is at my new place out in the country.

I bought a MagicTeam Sound Machine and it has become one of my favorite tools to help you sleep, and what gave me the idea for this article. Since I’ve had it I’ve yet to sleep a night at home without it. It has twenty sound settings, including a babbling brook, ocean waves, and fans running. I happen to really like the rain-on-the-room setting. I did find that this sound machine had several LEDs that, in the pitch darkness of my room, were way too bright. That was an easy fix with some of my Gorilla Tape.

An Excellent Mattress

Yes, I sleep on a mattress purchased through Amazon. it’s fairly inexpensive (as mattresses go) but it is really comfortable. My mattress is the Casper Sleep Element Mattress. It is a foam mattress that is not too hard or too soft. Mine is a king, but it also comes in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, and California King. It sits on a Casper Sleep Box Foundation.

Couple your new mattress with excellent pillows, a down comforter, and some high-quality sheets (hey, it’s 1/3 of your life!) and you’ll be good to go!

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