Sleep is vital to our health. To get better sleep it's important to consider your diet, activities, routines, and your sleep environment. There are many things that can be done to enhance your sleep environment to improve sleep.
Preparing Your Sleep Environment
In addition to a regular bedtime schedule, it is important to make your bedroom a place that is conducive to sleep. The more comfortable and relaxing your sleep space is, the better your chances for falling asleep and staying asleep. Consider these tips when creating your relaxing sleep atmosphere:
- Get rid of all annoyances and interruptions.
- Control the room temperature; cooler air (between 65 and 70 degrees F) is typically more comfortable for sleep, however, set the temperature to your preference.
- Allow for room ventilation, if possible. Crack a window slightly to allow for air flow. The circulating fresh air will help you breathe deeply, and provide oxygen that is essential for good sleep.
- Use ear plugs if there are noises outside the bedroom. There are many types of plugs that are specifically for sleeping, so if at first you don’t find the perfect pair, try another.
- Mask noises with a white noise machine if you decide to not wear earplugs. Machines are designed specifically for this purpose, or you can use a fan or air conditioner to provide the background noise. This will hide background sounds such as traffic or a barking dog.
- Try listening to music using a CD player to play soothing background music. (more on that later on)
- Your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock, relies on light and dark patterns to determine when to signal your body to fall asleep. Keep your room as dark as possible to help your body settle into a sleep state. Use mini-blinds and thick curtains to block light from windows. Try wearing an eye mask to block any remaining light.
- Having a clock by your bedside might be adding to your sleep problem. If you are watching the clock all night long, face it toward the wall so that you can’t see the time. Constantly looking at the clock only makes you think about sleep, and lack of sleep, which continues the cycle of sleeplessness.
- Consider a room humidifier for winter months when the air is dry.
- Use your room only for sleeping. Remove the TV, computer, stereo. Your mind should associate your bedroom only with sleep.
- Wear the most comfortable clothing you own. Non-constrictive clothing won’t wake you in the middle of the night. Or try wearing nothing at all.
Reducing Your Evening Stimulation
The best nighttime routine is one that leaves you feeling relaxed and ready to go to bed. If you are experiencing trouble falling asleep, it may be beneficial to avoid external stimulations for an hour or so before bedtime. Stimulation, such as watching television, keeps your mind active and alert. If you find it difficult to give up television before bed, try to select shows that are calming rather than aggressive, action-packed programs.
When reducing your evening stimulation to promote healthy sleep habits, try these tips:
- Keep your bedroom television-free. This will help your mind and body associate the bedroom with sleeping only.
- Don’t exercise up to three hours prior to bedtime. Remember that exercise wakes up your body, and unless physical activity is done well before you plan to go to bed, it will work against you when trying to sleep.
- Plan to unwind when returning home from being out. If you jump directly into bed, your mind and body might not have sufficient time to decompress and slip into your evening routine.
- Try reading. Non-technical reading might help make you tired. Avoid work-related or overly complicated material.
- Consider an adult coloring book such as Color Me Calm.
- Avoid falling asleep without turning off the light. This will wake you up in the night and disturb your sleep cycles.
The goal is to define the fine line between stimulation and relaxation when deciding how to unwind. Being able to easily relax at night will be paramount to your success in falling asleep naturally.
Cut Out Distractions and Sources Of Light
It’s hard to fall asleep when you get distracted by a noise or some blinking lights just as you’re ready to drift off. Cut out as many noise and light distractions as you can from your bedroom. Get rid of electronic devices and invest in a good pair of curtains. Any source of light can mess with your ability to fall asleep.
This includes your phone or tablet. It’s one of the worst sources of light, particularly because you have the device close to your face. The illumination coming off your screen tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Turn off your phone and leave it in the other room when you go to bed.
As you can see here, there are many different tips to try to help you sleep better. Each individual has their own unique combination of elements that make up their perfect sleep environment. If one suggestion doesn’t work for you, make note and try another until you find out what works best for you.
If you would like more information about getting better sleep, please visit www.GetGoodSleep.com.