With endless talk about extreme weather and impending climate change, knowing that you’re doing your part to help the planet just might help you rest a little easier at night.
Here’s six simple ways to do Mother Nature a solid and green your evening routine. Bonus: Almost all of them will help you sleep better, too.
Buddy up for your commute.
Carpool with a coworker rather than drive home alone, and help the atmosphere breathe a little easier. By simply carpooling once a week, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint by 20%. That’s about the same as what’s emitted by flying round-trip from Boston to Wichita, or leaving your TV on for 8 hours every day of the year.
But a group ride home isn’t just good for the planet. Getting to take advantage of the coveted carpool lane means less traffic, so you get a faster, more pleasant commute.
You’ll also get the chance to unload about stuff that’s bugging you—a crazy project, or worse, a crazy client or supervisor—to your colleague, who probably understands your work situation better than anyone else.
All of which adds up to less stress and a more restful night’s sleep. (And since more sleep=more creativity and fewer errors, the quality of your work just might skyrocket. See how everything’s all interconnected?)
Go meatless for dinner.
You know the epic drought that’s wreaking havoc in the Southwest? You could make a small difference by feasting on a tofu stir-fry instead of one made with meat. That’s because it takes a whopping 1,850 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef, but just 39 gallons of water to produce a pound of vegetables. Crazy, right?
That lighter meal will probably help you doze off easier, too. Experts have long known that loading up on heavy fare in the evening can tax your digestive system, which can make sleep harder to come by. Plus, eating a diet high in saturated fat—and meat has plenty of it!—has been shown to mess with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
Take a post-meal stroll.
We know. After a hard day at work, the temptation to plop down in front of the TV and give you brain a break is almost too much to overcome.
But if you can muster it, stave off the urge for at least a little while and take a walk first. Do it every night, and you’ll save a not-inconsiderable amount of electricity over time—which amounts to less CO2 spewed into the atmosphere. Every little bit helps, right?
Plus, you’ve probably heard all about how exercisers tend to snooze better than couch potatoes. So go on—lace up those sneaks and get moving.
OK, watch TV for a little while. Then unplug.
After your walk, you deserve to watch your favorite show for an hour. But then turn off the tube, and resist the urge to turn to your laptop or tablet for more digital entertainment.
While you’re at it, you might want to unplug your electronics altogether. Even when they aren’t in use, plugged-in devices continue to suck energy out of the outlets in your walls, says the Alliance to Save Energy. An easy fix? Keep the plugs for all of your devices in one central power strip, then unplug that when you’re offline.
What’s more—and you might be sensing a theme by now—skipping the gadgets at night will do wonders for your sleep routine. In fact, one recent study found that the blue light they emit is sort of the caffeine equivalent of the device world: They boost alertness and stave off fatigue. And you wouldn’t down a cup of coffee an hour before bedtime, would you?
Open the windows.
Fall is not too hot and not too cold. In other words, the perfect time of year to keep your bedroom’s temperature comfortable simply by leaving the windows open. Do so, and you’ll slash your home’s CO2 output by more than 20 pounds a month. (Not to mention save up to 5% on your monthly energy bill.)
And if you’re too chilly? Believe it or not, the ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees, with temps on the colder end being linked to deeper sleep. But if you’re shivering at the thought, just throw on an extra blanket before turning in.
Conk out on an eco-friendly mattress.
You knew this one was coming, right? Considering that we spend nearly a third of our lives in bed, it makes an awful lot of sense to keep gnarly chemicals like formaldehyde and flame retardants (yum!) from wafting out of your mattress and into your lungs—and the surrounding environment.
And while it might not be a change you can make this very night, finding the best mattress for you and the environment (and at a reasonable price, no less), is easier than ever.
What other things have you done to make your evenings more eco-friendly? Do you focus on being green while you sleep? How do you keep your bedroom as green as possible?
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.