Around 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems. The good news is that there are things that they can do to fix them.
Are you suffering from sleep problems? The issue might stem from having a bad sleep environment.
Your bedroom should be a peaceful oasis that you escape to after a long, hard day. Unfortunately, far too many people are guilty of using their bedroom for just about everything.
From eating and gaming to watching television and even working, the line between a quiet, calming space for sleep and a beehive of daily activity becomes increasingly blurred. These guidelines will make it easier to maintain sleep hygiene to improve your long-term health. This can make it difficult for your brain and body to transition from being awake and alert to feeling tired enough for sleep.
If you suspect that your bedroom environment is negatively affecting your sleep quality, this article’s for you. Keep reading for useful tips on creating the ideal sleep environment so you can fall asleep more easily, stay asleep, and wake feeling rested and rejuvenated.
Limit Activities and Screen Time
Let’s start with the things you shouldn’t do. As tempting as it may be to have a snack in bed, scroll through social media, or play video games, these activities may be sabotaging your sleep. For one thing, they’re tasks that you normally perform while awake or during the daytime. When you perform these activities in your bedroom, your brain and body start to associate this room with being awake and alert.
Using digital devices only increases this confusion. The blue light from things like a smartphone or laptop stops your brain from releasing the sleep hormone melatonin and tricks you into thinking you should be awake. Light and darkness are what regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, also called your sleep-wake cycle. Darkness triggers the release of melatonin as your body prepares for sleep. Overexposure to artificial lights at night can interrupt this natural process, making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep.
Another tip is to avoid lying in bed awake for more than 15 minutes. If you can’t fall asleep, get up and exit the bedroom to perform a relaxing activity that doesn’t involve your phone or TV. Have a warm cup of tea, perform a meditation, or simply walk around your house until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. Then, and only then, should you return to your bedroom. This technique is known as stimulus control and helps establish the connection between the bedroom and sleep. It’s a popular method used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi).
Reduce Light and Noise Disturbances
Light from screens and digital devices aren’t the only things keeping you up at night. Take inventory of your bedroom and see where outside light may be coming in and disrupting your sleep. Use room darkening shades or a sleep mask to block out any intrusive light coming from the street or neighbors.
Noise is another common culprit that may be sneaking into your bedroom and disturbing your sleep patterns. Keeping your windows tightly closed and sealed can prevent some of this. You can also invest in a sound machine to help block out roommates, neighbors, or street traffic. A pair of sleep headphones can achieve the same thing and most provide a selection of soothing sleep sounds or music to choose from. An oscillating fan is another option and can provide much-needed white noise.
Declutter and Get Organized
A messy bedroom is more than just an eye sore. It may actually be a hurdle to getting the quality night’s sleep you need. When your bedroom is filled with miscellaneous objects and random items, it can be overwhelming for your brain – even if you don’t realize it. Research suggests that people faced with a cluttered or disorganized living space have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than those who live in a clean and organized home.
If stress or anxiety are keeping you up at night, it may be time for some much-needed spring cleaning and purging. Clear the surfaces of your dresser, desk, and nightstand. Pick up any clothing or other items from your floor and store them where they belong in the closet or drawers. Remove any garbage, boxes, or other items that don’t belong. Anything that catches your eye or seems misplaced probably is and should be relocated. If anxiety is keeping you up at night, the thing you should keep close by is a journal. Try writing down your anxious feelings and your racing thoughts. Make a list of things you want to accomplish the next day or reflect on the current day. This can help reduce your anxiety, making it easier for you to fall and stay asleep. If your anxiety persists, certain medications like Klonopin can help to reduce anxiety while also improving sleep.
Splurge on Quality Bedding
You deserve to treat yourself. And if you’re going to make an investment, it should be in your health and sleep quality. Everything from the mattress you sleep on to the pillow you use and even your sheets can either support a good night’s sleep or sabotage it.
Firm mattresses and pillows are best for stomach sleepers and those who overheat during the night. If you wake up in a sweat or toss and turn all night fighting with your blankets, you may benefit from a firmer mattress. These types of mattresses and pillows also provide sufficient support for those with neck and back issues that could cause chronic pain – a major cause of insomnia. Soft mattresses, on the other hand, work well for side sleepers and anyone who likes that “sinking” feeling when they climb into bed. A soft pillow also offers benefits like letting your head settle closer to the mattress for ideal spinal alignment.
When it comes to your sheets and comforter, think lightweight. The optimum sleeping temperature for your bedroom is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body temperature naturally rises at night, which is why a cooler bedroom is more comfortable and promotes more sound sleep. Avoid sheets or bedding that are too heavy, especially in the summer months. This can trigger night sweats and cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night to toss off your covers and cool off. This same theory applies to pajamas. Lightweight, breathable pajamas are best.
Create a Dream Bedroom
The perfect bedroom is clean, comfortable, dark, and quiet. It’s also an area reserved for relaxation and calm. The only two activities you should ever perform in bed are sleeping and having sex. Once your brain recognizes your new ideal sleep environment as the perfect place for catching some much-needed Z’s you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your sleep quality and duration.
Be sure to check out our health and wellness pages before you go for more tips and information on living a happy, healthy, and productive life.