5 Tips for Maximizing Your Sleep Environment
This guest blog post was curated for Bucky by Julie Lambert.
We all know about the importance of sleep, and yet, we still often struggle to sleep well.
One of the numerous factors that prevent you from getting good sleep is your sleep environment.
How do you make the most of it, you might ask?
Here are the five key tips that will help you turn your bedroom into the coziest sleeping space ever!
#1 Make Your Room Dark
Light is one of the most powerful external factors that influence our sleep cycles and sleep quality. Exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning can boost your alertness by inhibiting melatonin production and switching the circadian rhythms into the ‘hello, it’s daytime!’ mode.
This effect of light is also the reason why you don’t want any bright — and even dimmed — light in your bedroom at night. So, let’s see what you can do to achieve the sleep-friendly darkness:
- Invest in blackouts. Nothing feels more annoying than a streetlamp light piercing you right into the eye. A blackout curtain can easily block that and turn your room into a cozy cave.
- Ditch all blinking electronics. Gadgets are an important part of your life, but they can keep you from sleeping for hours. And it’s not only about the endless scrolling through the Instagram feed. The screens of phones and tablets emit blue specter light, which is detrimental to melatonin production and can delay your sleep. So it’s better to avoid any screens at least two hours before bedtime and keep them out of the bedroom. Or, if you cannot remove your phone from the room, at least put it away from the bed.
- Use a sleeping mask. Finally, the easiest way to sleep better even if you live in the area with massive light pollution is to use a sleep mask. Be sure to choose the one that doesn’t sleep hot and contours your face without pressing it.
#2 Upgrade Your Bed
If instead of traveling to the Land of Nod in minutes, you usually toss and turn for hours trying to get comfortable, then maybe your bed’s setup is not supportive enough for your body. According to Kansas-Sleep, here are the items you may want to upgrade:
- Mattress. If a mattress has been serving you for more than 7 years, it’s considered old. An average 7-year-old bed cannot offer enough support for your spine and is very likely to make your back hurt. To ensure a restful shut-eye, choose a mattress that doesn’t sleep hot and can conform to your body in any sleeping position.
- Pillow. A pillow is important for neck and shoulder support, and its choice is also connected to your sleep position. Stomach sleepers may need a thin, soft pillow that won’t overstretch their neck muscles, while side sleepers will benefit from something thick and firm to keep their neck aligned with the rest of the spine. Or, you can choose the pillow with an adjustable loft and change its height depending on your preferences.
- Sheets. Sheets come into contact with your skin every night. If they’re made of cheap, synthetic fabrics, they may give you irritation. Choose natural materials like cotton or semi-synthetic ones like lyocell or bamboo rayon — they wick away moisture and feel cool to the touch, which is great during summer nights.
Also, if you have difficulty falling asleep because of anxiety, consider investing in a weighted blanket. Wrapping it around yourself may help you calm down so that you can fall asleep more easily.
#3 Adjust the Thermostat
A lot of processes occur in our bodies when we fall asleep. One of them is a drop in the core body temperature, which launches melatonin production for an easier drift-off.
Turns out, you can enhance that melatonin boost by adjusting the thermostat between 60 and 67F. These temperatures will increase your body’s heat loss without feeling uncomfortably cool, thus promoting deeper sleep.
#4 Block All Noises
So, you wrap yourself in a warm blanket, put your head on a soft pillow and…
Hear the faucet dripping in the kitchen.
Or the late-night cars driving in your neighborhood.
Noise pollution is a modern plague, really. And some noises can be very annoying for you if you try to fall asleep.
The good thing is, you can easily deal with this irritant to sleep better, and here’s how:
- Use other noises. This might sound like a joke, but it’s not. Many of us use white noise generators to soothe their children. But turns out, the ability of the white noise to overlap with surrounding sounds can also be beneficial for adults. Another ‘colorful’ noise, the pink one, can help you get deeper and longer sleep by promoting stable brain wave activity. So, purchase your noise machine or download an app with noise samples — and sleep tight.
- Try earplugs. Some models can cancel up to 26 dB, thus helping you deal with annoying sounds and noises from the outside. Choose earplugs that will mold to your ear without feeling too rigid so that you could spend the whole night in them.
- Soundproof your windows. If your window lets the draughts in, it will probably let the sounds in too. Inspect the window for any holes and leaks, and reinforce the insulation around it if needed.
Adding some drapery around the windows or investing in a carpeted floor may also muffle the sounds in your bedroom, making it not only cozier but also more sleep-friendly.
#5 Add Positive Associations
You may not notice this too often, but your brain is a huge fan of categorization and associations. So, if you use your bedroom as a working space or as a dining room, your brain quickly stops perceiving it as a sleep sanctuary. No wonder falling asleep then becomes much more difficult.
Ideally, your bedroom should be used for sleep and intimacy only, so try to move other activities to other parts of your house.
Also, you can create relaxing associations by using aromatherapy or painting your bedroom walls in soothing colors that will induce calmness and aid in better sleep.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Lambert realized the importance of sleep at a very young age, as she was growing up in a home where getting enough z's was great luck. First started as a side interest, studying the science behind sleep soon became her main passion.
*Bucky does not endorse any products or practices suggested by guest bloggers. All ideas and opinions are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Bucky.