So you’ve mastered heading to bed at a decent time and getting the recommended eight hours of shuteye, but sleeping peacefully is still a challenge. The environment you’ve created within your bedroom could be the main contributor to your restless nights. This may not seem like a big deal, but in reality, poor sleep throughout the night can cause numerous health issues like obesity, quality of life, and even life-threatening illness. Improving your sleep environment will lead to a more sound sleep at night, which can improve your overall health.
Find The Right Temperature
One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to improve your sleep is by creating an environment with the right temperature. Thermoregulation is linked to the mechanisms responsible for affecting sleep – experiencing extremely high or low temperatures while you sleep can have a negative effect on the healthiest of people. Keeping your bedroom between 60 and 67°F at night will help create the ideal sleep environment.
There are a few ways to ensure that your bedroom stays at the temperature you desire. While most people prefer their homes at a higher temperature during the day, turning your thermostat to a cooler temperature while you sleep will keep you from waking up frequently throughout the night to adjust. Opening a window or turning on a fan can also cool your room and help circulate air.
Create a Dark Environment
Creating a dark environment will enhance your sleep and keep melatonin levels high, allowing you to stay asleep longer. When there is light in the room, melatonin levels are low and keep your mind alert. Darkness helps trigger your brain to slow down and increase melatonin production. A good place to start when darkening your bedroom is with the windows. Thick curtains and blinds that don’t allow light to permeate will guarantee no street lights or headlights wake you.
There are few things worse than receiving a notification and having the light from your phone startle you awake. Be sure to put any electronic devices in sleep mode or power them off while you sleep. You may also want to invest in dimmer lights for your bedroom. It’s recommended to dim the lighting in your bedroom to less than 200 watts before heading to bed to help start your body’s sleep cycle. Certain light bulbs can filter out harmful light that disrupts your melatonin production as well. Lighting Science’s Goodnight Light Bulb emits less blue light than a conventional LED light bulb making it a great option for the bedroom.
Eliminate Unwanted Noise
Believe it or not, our minds are constantly processing sounds even while we're asleep. Some of these noises can be disruptive, while others can be soothing. Our minds need to process noises while we’re sleeping to hear things such as fire alarms or a baby crying, but often this ability is a nuisance. Eliminating noise from the bedroom as much as possible is key in creating an ideal sleep environment. Turn off any personal devices and appliances that may make sudden noises throughout the night.
As far as noises that you can’t eliminate, such as your partner’s snoring or your roommate’s constant late-night phone conversations, invest in something to help cancel them out. Sound machines can be lucrative to people who have trouble tuning out the sounds around them. Most come with the option to choose what you hear during your sleep such as white noise, fan noise, sounds of nature or meditative music. With so many options to choose from, try a few different sounds each night and stick with the one that provides the most relaxing environment for you. Another option for eliminating noise is to use earplugs. There is a wide variety of earplugs on the market, but the best for sleep are made of wax, silicone or foam.
Invest In Different Bedding
We discussed the importance of finding the right temperature for your sleep, but without proper bedding, your room temperature may not matter. Your sheets, pillows and blankets play a large role in keeping your body temperature in check while you sleep. But our bedding choices can have a greater effect on our overall health than just regulating body temperature. Some sheets and other bedding are treated with harsh chemicals that can be harmful to your skin and cause irritation or allergic reactions. We recommend investing in high quality, organic bedding to create a healthier sleep environment.
Having the incorrect mattress for your sleeping style can also have grave effects on your sleep quality. If you find yourself tossing and frequently turning throughout the night or waking up with aches and pains, it’s probably time for you to get a new mattress. There are many options out there, so doing your research based on your sleeping style, weight and height can help you narrow down what mattress will work best for you.
Allergy sufferers and people with sensitive skin may not realize their mattress could be the leading cause of their flare-ups. Most mattresses are an ideal place for mold, mildew, dust mites, and pet dander, leading to a variety of symptoms that make it hard (or sometimes impossible) to fall asleep. Eco-friendly mattresses such as EcoSleep are made with latex and wool, which are hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. Sleeping on wool has been proven to lower heart rate as well as provide a more sound sleep during REM. EcoSleep is also made with cotton which offers similar benefits to sleeping on wool and latex and increases breathability, making it great for regulating temperature.
Clean Your Bedroom
Having a messy room can create an anxious environment that is anything but relaxing. A study done by New York’s St. Lawrence University found that people who had a cluttered bedroom took longer to fall asleep than those who had one that’s neat and clean. Taking some time to declutter your room and organize will save you a lot of stress in the future. First, we recommend going through the belongings in your bedroom and getting rid of anything you no longer use. Look into places within your community that accept donations and bring your purged items there to help someone in need. Next, organize your remaining belongings so everything has a place and can be returned after use to avoid the build-up of clutter. Whether this is something you realize affects you or not, keeping your bedroom clean will give your mind one less thing to stress about while you lay in bed at night.
Add Relaxing Smells to The Bedroom
There are few things more satisfying than walking into your bedroom and getting a whiff of a pleasant scent. But did you know that there are certain scents that promote better sleep? For centuries, scents like lavender, vanilla, and jasmine have been used in the bedroom to create a calming and relaxing environment. Aromatherapy through the use of essential oils is one of the most popular ways to incorporate these scents into your sleep environment. Putting a few drops of your favorite scent in a bath before bed, purchasing an oil diffuser or even just misting your pillows with essential oils are all great ways to bring these scents into your bedroom. When it comes to picking what scent to incorporate, it may take some trial and error before nailing down which one’s for you.
Keep Your Bedroom, Your Bedroom
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary — the place you go to relax, unwind and shut out the outside stressors of the day. With more people working from home than ever before, creating separating the two environments can be difficult. As tempting as it may be to grab your laptop and work in your bed, try keeping anything work-related out of your bedroom. Studies have shown that working in bed weakens your mind’s ability to associate your bedroom with sleep.
Besides work, you should also keep food out of your bedroom. Whether it be a late-night snack or a hearty breakfast, it can be tempting to want to relax in bed while you eat, but the reality is that it can attract unwanted pests. I don’t know about you, but leaving the snacks in the kitchen is something I’m willing to do if it means I won’t be sleeping with any six-legged visitors!
Clean Your Bedroom
By making sleep a top priority, you will increase your productivity and concentration throughout the day, lower your risk of heart disease or stroke and strengthen your immune system. Improving your sleep environment can be done in many ways, but finding what’s best for your sleeping needs is important. If changing your entire sleep environment is necessary but feels overwhelming, start with one or two things at a time. Once you make these improvements, restless nights will be a thing of the past and your overall wellbeing will be better than ever.