BUILD A BAT CAVE TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT
Creating an optimal sleep environment can increase the quality of your sleep significantly. One of the first lifestyle modifications I make when working to improve athlete performance is to improve the sleeping environment. Most of our clients seem to understand the need for sleep but seem to have very little knowledge on how to set up their sleep environment.
I was fortunate enough to learn from Charles Poliquin early in my coaching career. He introduced me to the Bat Cave concept way back in early 2008. Having a good understanding of this concept has directed the decision-making process regarding sleep hygiene in our household for over a decade.
WHAT IS THE BAT CAVE?
The concept of the Bat Cave is geared to mimic the cold, dark caves that our ancestors slept in long before the industrial revolution and the discovery of electricity. A good Bat Cave setup will eliminate distractions that could wake you up, enhance the quality of your sleep, and reduce harmful electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.
Here are a few key takeaways that have improved our sleep after we implemented them with our athletes and in our home.
1. BLACK OUT YOUR BEDROOM
You should aim to sleep in complete darkness or as close to it as possible. This means using black out shades to cover your windows. Even the smallest amount of light in the room can mess up your daily biological processes and affect your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which will have a negative effect on your sleep. Avoid flipping on the lights if you need to use the restroom overnight by using red night light in your bathroom.
2. LOWER THE TEMPERATURE
The colder the better. Start anywhere between 68-72 degrees and gradually work your way down to lower temperatures. Caves were cold & dark and your room should be too. The colder environment will allow you to use a heavier blanket which will improve your sleep as well. The pressure from the blanket will increase serotonin and melatonin, the hormones responsible for relaxation, and decreases cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress.
3. ELIMINATE ELECTRICAL DEVICES
Remove unnecessary devices or at least unplug them overnight. The EMF radiating from the electrical devices in your bedroom are reducing the amount of melatonin you produce. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our sleep and wakefulness. The happens because the pineal gland (the organ that produces melatonin and other hormones) interprets the electrical nature of the EMF radiation as a source of light. Thinking that it is still light outside, or in the room, it limits our melatonin production in an effort to combat this.
The first step in this process is to get the TV out of your bedroom. Your bedroom is for two things, and watching television isn’t one of them, so get it out of there. The intimacy between you and your partner may improve as well, no need to thank me.
4. REMOVE YOUR CELL PHONE
Get your cell phone out of the bedroom! In addition to the EMF radiation emitted we referenced earlier, there is a significant amount of research supporting the link between cell phone use and cancer. Keeping your phone by your head overnight will only increase the probability that you will be impacted down the road.
At the very least you should remove it from your nightstand and place it in the nearest bathroom. Set it to Do Not Disturb until your alarm goes off in the morning. Placing it on Wi-Fi Mode is even better and should be switched anytime you are home. (Set up Wi-Fi-Calling if you haven’t done so already). Having to get up and walk to the phone in the morning to shut your alarm will also ensure that you don’t sleep through it.
It should be noted that any sleep monitor application the requires you to keep your phone under your pillow, or on your mattress while you sleep, is a waste of money and is doing more harm than good in my opinion.
5. USE A SOUND MACHINE
White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a "peak" sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house. We purchased our first Marpac Sound Machine for our son’s room just after he was born. We now have one in every bedroom in our home.
Interested in learning more? Contact Us to book to a consultation!