Anxiety, stress, jet lag, a medical condition – all could be causes of a sleep disorder or impairment. While treatment of such problems will vary from person to person, a good sleep environment is never a bad idea.
By creating such an environment, it could prove the necessary first step on your road to a better night’s sleep (and all the positive effects that come with it). Here are five essentials to keep in mind when creating your own “good sleep environment.”
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Keep the Bedroom a Place of Rest
These days, many of us have notebook computers, wireless Internet, Kindles, iPads, mobile phones, and other devices that make it possible for us to transform any room into an office.
But if you suffer from a sleep disorder, make sure you keep your bedroom a bedroom – a place of rest away from work and play. Don’t allow the bedroom to become an office, a playroom, or a TV room. Those who suffer from sleep disorders need to eliminate all distractions in the form of noise, light, or activity.
Consider charging your phone in another room. You won’t be tempted to check it during the night. And there won’t be light coming from it when alerts come through.
When creating a good sleep environment, you need to make sure you minimize any discomfort. Being too cold or too hot can disrupt a comfortable sleep and, once disturbed (for a person with a sleep disorder), it may be difficult to get back into a deep slumber.
Keeping the room at a constant, ideal temperature will help you get and stay asleep. While it’s debatable as to what the best temperature is, it can be agreed upon that anything about 75 degrees Fahrenheit is too warm, and anything below 54 degrees is too cold.
Try a median between 60-70 degrees (I like 66) as a compromise, but the deciding factor should be you and what you find to be “ideal.” If you keep kicking the covers off or shivering yourself awake, adjust the temperature until it’s just right – and make a note of what that number is for you.
Many find that a weighted blanket helps. These are great especially for those with anxiety or sensory disorders. You feel like you are being hugged or held with the heaviness of the blanket. I know my sister has made these for her husband and kids.
One symptom of a sleep disorder or impairment is tossing and turning during the night. One reason you may be restless is that your mattress is uncomfortable.
As with most anything in life, what’s “right” for you (and your back, your posture, your comfort) is specific to your body. However, research has shown that supple mattresses may be more conducive to a good night’s rest versus a firmer one.
Avoid sleeping on a lumpy mattress if at all possible. A new mattress may be in order if you’ve outgrown your current one, either in size or comfort. If you have a spouse who prefers a different type of mattress, consider getting the type of bed where each of you set the mattress to your perfect number.
A memory foam and innerspring hybrid mattress may be the right choice. It combines the traditional innerspring support with the soft memory foam top.
Keep the Clock Out of Sight
If you can, try to keep your clock out of sight. Set your alarm and then put it somewhere else or turn it away from you – out of your general view. For instance, instead of having the clock on the nightstand, put it on the dresser in the far corner.
If a clock is visible, you may find yourself staring at it or waking up periodically to look at it. Make an effort to create a good sleep environment; it means that you’re aware of an impairment.
Trying to break the cycle of sleeplessness? Then it’s important that you don’t focus on time. Seeing how early it is or how little time has passed, can only lead to frustration.
You may even want to consider the Wake-Up Light with Sunrise Sunset Simulation Alarm Clock. It has settings to mimic sunrise as well as sunset. The sunset option can be set for 15, 30, or 60 minutes. The light slowly dims during that time frame to help you to relax to get a good night’s sleep. The sunrise option starts 30 minutes before your alarm is set to go off to help you gradually wake up.
Remember that a dark bedroom can help your body “know” it’s time for rest. Light triggers a lot in us and is associated with our waking hours. To adjust the body to a regular sleep cycle, make an effort to distinguish between daytime and bedtime.
When it’s time to sleep, keep light sources to a minimum, including when you get up to go to the bathroom. As with a TV, computer, or video game, you’ll want to avoid anything that can stimulate your brain or body out of rest. Even if your eyes are closed, light in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep.
Invest in light-blocking shades or curtains. We bought cordless blackout cellular shades for our bedroom. It helped cut out the light coming in from the street lights.
We discovered essential oils recently. I have found it very soothing to have a pleasant scent when going to sleep. We have this InnoGear Diffuser we use (one in the bedroom and one in the family room). Usually, we use either ylang ylang (great for anxiety) or a sleep & relaxation blend.
Having too much sound or the wrong kind of sound makes for a restless night. Many people choose to use a white noise machine to block certain noises. I’ve always heard these were expensive, but I just found one on Amazon for $20!
Another option? If you have a ceramic heater, it might have a fan-only setting. This ceramic heater is very similar to the one we use.
Earplugs could be used as well. I don’t recommend it, especially if you have small children. I like to be at least able to hear big sounds (although canceling out thunder would be great).
If these steps are taken, in addition to a few other considerations, such as making a separate sleeping area for pets (that are used to sleeping with you) – then you should be on your way to eliminating some of the factors that may be contributing to your persistent sleep problems.