There’s no doubt about it—there’s nothing like the power of a good night’s sleep at the cottage. With fresh air, sunshine, and exercise in surplus, a full day spent outside often results in a deep, peaceful rest.
Want to recreate cottage sleeping conditions at home? It’s easy with these six simple steps.
1. Get fresh air, exercise, and plenty of sunshine.
When it comes to a quality sleep, what you do during the day is just as important as what you do at night.
Although you may not realize it, chasing kids, hiking, canoeing, swimming, and gardening at the cottage adds up to a lot of physical activity throughout the day. Build outdoor exercise into your day and you’re sure to fall into bed tired at the end of the night. After all, exposure to sunlight isn’t just a mood booster—it can also help to regulate your circadian rhythms and keep your sleeping on schedule.
However, if you’re falling asleep on the couch, only to wake up with a start in the middle of the night, keep your brain relaxed, but active in the evenings. Like at the cottage, going for a short evening walk, playing board games or doing a puzzle may keep you alert longer and allow you to get a better night’s rest.
Finally, it’s not just fresh air during the day that may help you sleep—our bodies prefer lower night time temperatures as well. Open the windows before you go to sleep or turn on a fan to lower your bedroom’s temperature.
2. Set a bedtime—and stick to it.
Although it’s unlikely that you consciously set a bedtime at the cottage, you’re more likely to prioritize sleep. You probably don’t let day-to-day obligations get in the way of when you go to sleep; at the cottage, there’s no laundry that urgently needs doing at 11 p.m., or evening work functions to attend. All of this means that whenever your bedtime rolls around, you’re more likely to hop under the covers.
If you’re spending your weeknights answering work emails, we’re talking to you. When it comes to bedtime, pretend you’re at the cottage, where everything can wait until tomorrow morning. Good sleep is built on routine; choose a bedtime and don’t let anything get in its way.
3. Don’t bring your phone to bed.
Nights at the cottage are usually spent gathered around the glow of a campfire, rather than the glow of a television screen. Research has demonstrated that the blue wavelength light emitted from electronic devices, including your tablet or phone, affects natural circadian rhythms and melatonin production. The result is that your brain becomes unnecessarily active just as you should be winding down.
Try to limit your gadget use one to two hours before you go to sleep and stick the cottage mainstay of a good book and a cup of herbal tea, instead.
4. A bedtime snack doesn’t hurt.
All those s’mores around the campfire? They might just be contributing to a better sleep. Going to bed with an empty stomach can result in the production of ghrelin, a hormone that indicates to the body that it’s hungry, which can wake you up.
Having a bedtime snack will stimulate the production of leptin—the hormone linked to satisfaction—which may help you sleep. After all, that’s what cookies and milk are made for.
5. Listen to the sound of silence.
There’s nothing like the mellow chirping of frogs and calls of loons to lull you off to dreamland. During sleep, our brain continues to process auditory stimulation, including soothing white noises.
At home, recreate the sound of the cottage nights by turning on a fan for white noise, or play pre-recorded nature sounds.
6. Visualize a peaceful, restful place.
Quieting your mind before bed is the ticket to a restful night’s sleep. We recommend meditating and focusing on your happy place—which we’re pretty sure is right at the cottage.