You know that glorious feeling of getting into a freshly made bed, complete with crisp, clean sheets? And you know how much more refreshed you feel when you wake up the next day? What if we told you that you could get that much joy from your bed every day?
Your sleep environment – that is your bed and the room and contents that surround it – plays a significant role in the quality of your sleep. Most of us only really appreciate this when we experience the pleasure of getting into a freshly made bed, but there are plenty more ways you can optimise your sleep environment for the best night’s rest – it starts with paying attention to your senses.
A great night’s sleep can depend on the visual conditions of your sleep environment. Just as daylight tells our bodies when to rise and shine, darkness is our brain’s way of knowing when it’s time for some shut eye. It’s for this reason that we recommend avoiding the bright lights of technology before bed – but don’t worry, we’re not about to ask you to live by candlelight from sundown each night. Here’s what you can do though…
- Consider low-wattage, incandescent lamps at your bedside to help you wind down in the hours before sleep
- If you’re a shift worker, or your bedroom is simply light prone, you may want to consider blackout blinds or an eye mask to make your room dark while you sleep.
- If you go to the bathroom during the night, do so by nightlight, instead of turning on stronger overhead lights.
Your bedroom should also be aesthetically calming. Start by de-cluttering your bedroom to create a clean and restful space. Arrange your furniture in a way that feels natural and visually pleasing to you. If you want to go all out you can even re-decorate for a peaceful space. Everyone has different colour and decorative preferences, so choose colours and finishings that suit you.
Hearing is one of our senses that remains alert during slumber, so it’s important to minimise the disruption of noise in the bedroom. If you share your bed with a partner, you’ll know that not all noises disturb people in the same way. While you might find the sound of a clock ticking irritating, your partner might find it soothing. Likewise, you may be a ‘light sleeper’, prone to waking at the slightest sound, while your partner may have more luck sleeping through disturbances.
If noise is something that disrupts your sleep you might want to consider creating a constant background noise such as white noise or the sound of a fan or air purifier. Having a hum in the background can help to distract your ears and block out unwanted outside noise. If all else fails, keep a stash of earplugs in your bedside table.
An often underestimated contributor to your sleep quality is temperature. During the course of the day, your body’s temperature rises and falls naturally. As it nears bedtime, your body temperature goes down, and reaches a low at around 5 a.m. before climbing back up in time for the morning. If your bedroom is too warm, it can interfere with your sleep by messing with your body’s temperature (ever woken up in a hot sweat? This is the reason!)
Keeping your room cool – especially in the warmer months – can be the secret to a solid night’s sleep. Of course everyone has different optimal temperature for sleep, so experiment with keeping your room cool and find what makes you most comfortable.
What you breathe while you sleep can affect how you feel the next day, so don’t leave your nose out of the picture when creating your sleep environment. Studies have proven lavender to be a calming scent that decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in the perfect relaxed state for a sweet slumber.
Surrounding yourself with a scent you like could help you drift off. Keep your room clean and use laundry detergents and other scented products such as candles or air fresheners with a pleasing smell – or no smell at all if that is your preference.
This one is a little less about your sleep environment and a little more about your general sleep hygiene. What you eat and drink before bed can have an impact on your quality of sleep. We all know that caffeine can be a culprit in keeping you awake, but that’s not the only thing that can thieve your sleep. Alcohol is another sleep disrupting substance, along with foods and beverages that may overwork your digestive system and cause you to need the bathroom during the night.
In the hours before bed, avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods. If you’re a late night snacker, try foods rich in carbohydrates such as a few whole wheat crackers with a small amount of peanut butter, or cereal with milk.
So, there you have it – a guide to optimising your bedroom for the best night’s sleep. Have you ever noticed how your sleep environment affects your sleep?