Print Blog Article

5 Tips for a Better Sleep Environment

Sun, Oct. 22, 2017 Posted: 03:14 AM


Sleep is one of the foundational elements of good health. Along with diet and nutrition, exercise, and emotional support, it’s one of the most influential factors in short-term health and long-term well-being. Sadly, most people don’t get enough quality sleep.

The Importance of Sleep Quality

The average person understands their need for sleep, yet is misguided on what constitutes quality sleep and home remedies for depression. They’re so focused on reaching a quantity – such as eight hours – that they fail to realize time isn’t the most important factor.

According to a report published in Sleep Health, the key determinants of quality sleep include:

• Sleeping for at least 85 percent of the total time spent in bed
• Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
• Waking up no more than once per night
• Being awake for 20 minutes or less (cumulative) after first falling asleep.

In other words, quality sleep is about falling asleep quickly and staying asleep, which allows you to go through the restorative stages of sleep – particularly slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

“The percentage of sleep time you spend in these two phases largely determines the quality of your sleep each night, and plays a major role in maintaining your overall health,” says Kathleen Alleaume, an exercise physiologist and nutritionist.

Among other things, quality sleep helps repair muscles and cells, improves memory, reduces inflammation, spurs creativity, sharpens attention and focus, suppresses appetite, and lowers levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

How to Improve Your Sleep Environment

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and awake refreshed. These include limiting stress, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, exercising, and not eating immediately before bed. But your sleep environment also plays a role. If you want the best possible sleep, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Achieve Total Darkness

Light is not a friend of sleep. Exposure to artificial light before and during sleep can reduce the quality of your sleep by suppressing the secretion of the hormone melatonin – which helps you fall and stay asleep. One of the best things you can do for yourself is attempt to achieve total darkness.

If you’re someone who goes to bed while there’s still daylight – or happens to have streetlights near your bedroom window – you could benefit from blackout shades and curtains. It’s also wise to remove alarm clocks with bright numbers, to achieve total darkness.

2. Remove the Clutter

“Nothing kills a peaceful, restful mood like a clutter-y mess,” design blogger Shifrah Combiths writes. “Too often the bedroom is the first dumping ground and the last place we set in order because it's the room that's least frequented by others. But it's time to take our bedrooms back, to turn them into the sanctuaries they should be and keep them that way.”

The first step to a simple, minimalistic bedroom is to take away all of the junk that doesn’t belong – such as papers, laundry, dirty clothing, books, and toiletries. The next step is actually to simplify the design of the room. Clean, soft colors like whites, beiges, greys, and light blues are ideal for paint. It’s also a good idea to limit wall art and stick with simple, functional furniture – such as dressers and end tables.

3. Ditch Electronics

One of the worst bedroom habits you can have is falling asleep with the TV on or scrolling through social media on your phone. Not only does this emit blue light, which signals to your body that you aren’t ready to sleep, but it also prevents your mind from relaxing.

Whether it’s watching the news, a TV show, checking your Instagram feed, or playing a video game, electronics cause your mind to process information at a time when it should be winding down for the day. This is the time to relax and spend time in your own thoughts.

4. Maintain a Cool Temperature

“As nighttime approaches, our body temperature naturally drops, signaling that it’s time to slow down and get some rest. By keeping your bedroom cooler, you’re reinforcing your body’s natural instinct to sleep,” Jill Thompson writes for The Sleep Advisor. “If the room is too hot, it could potentially block that signal and cause it to take longer for you to fall asleep.”

It’s best to keep your room temperature in the range of 60 to 68 degrees, which helps stimulate the production of melatonin. You should also try wearing less clothing – and even sleeping naked. This prevents trapping excess body heat and lessens the likelihood of awakening in the middle of the night.

5. Find a Comfortable Mattress

Research shows that 92 percent of people find a comfortable mattress to be important to a good night’s sleep. While it’s tempting to save a little bit of money and purchase a middle-of-the-road mattress, higher-end mattresses that provide ample support are worth every penny. Shop around and find out what works for you. If you and your sleeping partner have unique preferences, you may need an adjustable mattress.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night of sleep is about more than laying in bed for eight or nine hours. If you want to wake up refreshed and enjoy the health benefits of restorative rest, you need to create a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom. Hopefully the tips and techniques discussed in this article will provide you with some tangible action steps.

Lynn Joesph