Even after a good nights sleep I can be a bit of a kraken upon waking up, so imagine what I’m like after a poor night’s sleep, or even worse . . . after a string of them. No sleep leaves me snarky, short tempered, dippy, uncoordinated and unable to function as a writer (or at least a coherent one). So I’m very protective of sleep, very in favour of anything that improves it (with the exception of hard drugs) and have built up a few life-hacks that really help for getting sleep while house sitting.
Why is house sitting special you ask? Well, you have an unfamiliar mattress, pillow, covers, environment, temperature range, and so on. Basically, you combine all the potential problems of staying in a hotel room but without a maître d' you can pillow fight into a better room.
Here are my tips to optimise your sleep while house sitting. Because sleep is sanity and no amount of laying in bed whining about how tired you are will make it better!
So, here are the Kraken’s Sleep Tips for Minimising Morning Apocalypses, Armageddon’s and Assholery:
One size don’t fit all! (Sleeping with another person)
Assuming there is at least two of you in the bed (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) there is absolutely no reason to force both of you to manage sleep the same way. We’ve noted that in about 50% of sits, the host’s sleep in separate beds. It removes so many sleep problems, accommodates odd work hours, or routines where one person has to get up much earlier than the other to serenade the llama’s and so forth.
In the context of a sit, there will probably only be one bed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t each have your own private empire of duvet or blankets tailored to how hot you sleep relative to the room. It also minimises disturbances if one person comes to bed earlier or later or spends most nights tossing around like a whirling dervish on red food colouring. This is especially important if the bedding and mattress are different sizes (which can happen) or if one of you tosses and turns to get comfortable (i.e. on an unfamiliar bed). So stake out your territory and double up on the covers!
Delete the universe
You never quite know how well the curtains will block out light, especially in northern/southern countries where the days can be long in summer. Also, there might be an errant street light that sneaks though a crack in the curtains, or your partner might have to turn on the lights to go to the toilet, or you might be house sitting glow worms, whatever.
Either way invest in some good quality eye masks, I currently use a manta sleep mask as I have long beautiful eye lashes that get smooshed by the usual kind. They’ve lasted pretty well so far (both the mask and my eyelashes) so have been well worth the investment compared to the crappy collection that I’d slowly acquired from business class flights from back when I was a corporate drone.
The tyranny of the duvet
I’ve stayed in a hell of a lot of hotel rooms over the years and I can tell you that I’ve grown to hate duvets or whatever you call the puffy things. They are only any good in a very narrow temperature range, which is all well and good if you are somewhere climate controlled, but mostly you aren’t. Hotels use them as they are cheap, there is only one item to maintain and you just have to change the cover. Somewhere back in the 70s we got it in our heads that they are fancy (cos hotels have them), they’re not.
Anyway, a simple solution that won’t offend your host... take the cover slip off the duvet core, and sleep with just a sheet, the duvet cover slip and a blanket or two. Put the duvet core somewhere safe and at the end of the sit return everything back to how it was (after a wash of course). We do the same thing in hotels, but dial the aircon back from absurdly cold to normal and just use the cover slip.
The fluffy sandbag pillows shall be purged
I like a foam pillow and really hate fluffy sandbags, you know, the kind hotels get and pretend are full of goose down or caramelised fairy dandruff or unicorn lint. As of yet I have no solution . . . we tried some memory foam travel pillows, but they ended up being too bulky in the suitcase and too thick to sleep on. If I work something magical out then I’ll let you know. I just feel like ranting.
So hey, in conclusion three out of four isn’t bad for a non-morning person writing in the morning. Now go burn down a feather down pillow factory for me. If possible nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.