If you wake up several times throughout the night — even from the slightest noise — you are a so-called light sleeper. In simple terms, you seldom reach the deep sleep phase from which sudden sounds, bright lights, and other types of commotion wouldn’t rouse you.
Since restful sleep benefits all aspects of one’s health, it is essential to understand how light sleep functions and why it occurs. In this guide, you’ll find all the info you need, as well as tips on how to stop waking up and get productive and enjoyable sleep each night.
What Is a Light Sleeper?
As already mentioned, a light sleeper is someone who wakes up easily due to disturbances in their environment. These disturbances could range from cars passing their windows to their partners shifting in the bed.
In most cases, people fall back asleep soon after being woken up. However, some may struggle with it and spend several minutes or even hours tossing and turning during the night.
Either way, being a light sleeper can have a significant effect on your overall quality of sleep. As such, it can also affect your mood and health, from making you more stressed and irritable to leading to conditions such as hypertension and anemia.
What’s more, light sleepers might also miss out on deeper stages of sleep because they keep waking up. Thus, they may not get to enjoy the restorative effects of a good night’s rest, resulting in them being tired all day long.
What Causes Light Sleep?
Although it’s a common occurrence in people of all ages, experts are still unsure of what exactly causes light sleep. According to available research, it could be a mixture of genetics, underlying health conditions, as well as bad bedtime hygiene.
For example, high-stress occupations, anxiety disorders, and PTSD can all contribute to someone being a lighter sleeper. The same is the case for diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular conditions.
Moreover, your bedroom environment and sleep hygiene can all affect how deeply you sleep. If you go to bed late, drink alcohol beforehand, or eat heavy foods, your sleep will likely be disturbed. In addition, staring at your laptop or phone right before bedtime can also contribute negatively, as can working out at night or staying up too late.
Lastly, your age can also cause lighter sleep. Namely, most people older than 60 are lighter sleepers. As such, they can be woken up by the slightest noises, movements, and even smells.
Tips for Light Sleepers: Stop Waking Up!
No matter what causes your light sleep, there are certain tricks you can use to prevent waking up at the slightest disturbance. Here are some of the most effective ones.
1. Practice Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Before getting into the practical bit, let’s discuss something that has a lot of influence over sleep: your sleep hygiene.
This term refers to a combination of habits that can make your nights easier and more restful. If you’re usually a light sleeper, establishing a healthy routine can help you feel more refreshed in the morning.
For starters, you should aim to fall asleep and wake up at approximately the same time every day (including weekends). That way, your body will get used to a precise schedule, allowing you to get the same amount of sleep each night. This habit might also aid you in sleeping more deeply.
Next, you also ought to limit your daytime naps. If you nap for a few hours during the day, you might be a light sleeper because you’re not tired enough to enter the deeper stages of sleep at night. Thus, by cutting out those midday lie-downs, you can do a lot to improve your quality of sleep.
Furthermore, it’s important to make your bedroom a true safe haven. In other words, the room should be comfortable and cozy enough to help you relax. What’s more, it should only be used for rest and sleep. That way, you won’t start associating work or stress with the space.
Lastly, it’s also smart to reduce exposure to blue light (all electronics) for at least an hour before falling asleep. By doing so, you will ensure that your eyes aren’t strained and you aren’t too distracted to fall asleep and get good rest.
2. Buy Earplugs and a Sleep Mask
If you find that you’re usually woken up by sudden sounds, you should do your best to limit their occurrences. Luckily, there are inexpensive and effective ways to do that.
For instance, you can invest in a quality pair of earplugs. Most models on the market are soft and unobtrusive, and they can fit into just about any budget. With earplugs, you will tune out most of the outside noise and even muffle your partner’s breathing or loud movements if you don’t sleep alone.
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Based on your preferences and budget, you can get different types of earplugs. For one, there are simple cotton models that simply drown out sound and should be replaced on a weekly basis.
On the other hand, you can also find plugs made of silicone. They are better at canceling noise, and they last a bit longer as you can easily clean and resume them. However, this fact also makes them a bit more pricey.
If you don’t like wearing earplugs when you sleep, don’t worry — there are plenty of other options to choose from. You could try using earmuffs, earbuds, headphones, and more.
In the event that lights wake you up as well, you can also buy a sleep mask. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some even have ear covers. Look for a sturdy mask that feels soft on your skin and provides full coverage to block out light.
3. Use White Noise Machines or Apps
The next solution you might want to explore is white noise, which creates a soothing, constant background sound as you rest. There are various options to choose from, like white noise machines, fans, mobile apps, or online resources such as YouTube videos, depending on your preferences and budget.
As you set up your white noise, make sure to adjust the volume for your comfort, keeping it loud enough to mask other sounds without disturbing your sleep.
Give yourself some time to become accustomed to sleeping with white noise. While it might feel odd at first, you’ll likely discover that you sleep more soundly and are less bothered by minor noises.
4. Invest in Soundproofing Curtains and Blinds
Besides earplugs and white noise machines, you can also purchase some soundproofing curtains. Companies use thick and heavy materials to produce them, ensuring that they can absorb most of the outside noise coming into your bedroom.
What’s more, they can also block out light, be it from cars or street lights outside your window. Thus, they can do double duty and eliminate two types of disturbances that could disrupt your slumber.
Not to mention — most soundproofing curtains look extra stylish! They come in velvet, satin, or polyester, and you can find one in just about every color and design under the sun.
To complete the package, it is also a good idea to pair them up with other window soundproofing methods. For example, you could build a window plug or hang thick blinds. Both options are surprisingly effective in reducing the amount of noise and light that penetrates into your room.
5. Soundproof the Rest of Your Bedroom
In case you want to take things to the next level, you can also soundproof your bedroom walls. Adding more mass to them is a surefire way of reducing noise and guaranteeing you get quality sleep.
If your budget is small and you’d like to DIY it, it is a good idea to stop outside noise by putting a closet or a bookshelf against your wall. That way, the sound will have to travel through more layers to reach you, making it quieter and less likely to disturb your sleep.
And if you want to go all the way, you can insulate your walls using mass-loaded vinyl. This material is denser than any type of natural or artificial rubber, so it is a perfect choice for soundproofing. Also, it can go both over and under drywall, depending on your needs and the structural layout of your home.
Besides these ideas, you can also try hanging paintings, buying a carpet, blocking your air vents, or one of these DIY techniques. Simply try to identify where the bulk of the annoying noise is coming from, and then try to think of ways to eliminate that source.
6. Keep Your Pets Outside of Your Room
Lastly, here is a piece of advice for all pet parents. If your dog or cat wakes you up with 3 AM zoomies every night, it might be best to keep your door closed while you sleep. Let them play and run around in the rest of your home while you sleep in your bedroom. Although this arrangement might be difficult for them at first, they will grow used to it soon.
And if you’re considering getting a new pet, it’s important to choose a quiet one that won’t disturb your sleep. Some great options for quiet pets include small animals like hamsters, gerbils, or fish, as well as certain breeds of dogs and cats known for their calm and gentle nature.
By selecting a quiet pet, you can rest assured that their activities won’t disrupt your sleep and that you’ll be able to enjoy a peaceful environment at home.
Being a light sleeper comes with a range of difficulties that you have to deal with on a daily basis. From being woken by the slightest sound to feeling exhausted all day long, it is one of the trickiest traits one can have.
Luckily, there are also countless effective ways of reducing outside noise and making sure you sleep with no interruptions. Depending on your needs and the source of the disturbances, you can improve your room’s insulation, invest in earplugs, or buy soundproofing curtains and blinds.
As a farewell, a word of caution. If your lack of sleep and fitful nights significantly decrease your quality of life even after you’ve tried our tips, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor. They can do a thorough checkup and potentially identify a different source for your restless nights and light sleep.
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