Getting a good night’s sleep is important to our health and well-being. So how can we create a sleeping environment to increase our odds of getting to sleep quickly, and staying asleep for a good night’s rest? There are a lot of things that you can do to your environment, your actual bed, your bedtime habits and your body to promote a good sleeping environment. Below is a list of options that you can try and see how they help your individual lifestyle. Everybody has unique needs, so try a couple of options on the list to see what ideas will work for your best night’s sleep.
Create the perfect sleeping environment
- Lower the room temperature – As you fall asleep your core body temperature decreases and your hands and feet experience an increase. Setting your room thermostat to a temperature between 60 and 75 degrees for sleeping will help your body to make the transition easier.
- Daylight and darkness – Light influences our body’s internal clock, and that is what helps us to regulate our sleep and waking patterns. Having your bedroom have both options throughout the day and night will cue your body to make the change at bedtime to feelings of sleepiness. If your room is too light, consider adding blackout curtains to reach the right amount of darkness for your sleeping style.
- Hide the clock from view – It’s normal to wake up during the middle of the night, but ideally we want to get back to sleep as quickly as possible. Having a clock which easily shows the time when you have more sleep to accomplish can be detrimental to getting back to sleep quickly. Turn the clock to a position that you can’t see the time, but can still hear the alarm. That way you won’t start doing the math in the middle of the night, trying to figure out how many more hours of sleep that you could get, that gets your brain working far too early to get back to sleep.
- Lower the lights gradually – Approximately 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep, start lowering the light levels in your bedroom. The level of light in your environment affects your sleep hormones and can stimulate your brain, delaying sleep.
Create your dream bed
- Clean sleeping – Your sleep can be affected by things you can’t even see such as dust mites, pollen, pet hair dander or other toxins such as mold. Using the right type of protectors can help you to eliminate these health risks.
- Weighted blanket – A weighted blanket puts pressure on the muscles of the body. This pressure sends a signal to the brain that is similar to when you are being hugged (happiness and connection). Most adults should choose a blanket weight that is between 8% and 12% of their total body weight.
- Adjustable beds – These beds allow you to change the angle of your upper body and your legs. If you have a medical condition such as lower back pain or acid reflux the way that you customize your bed could have a big impact on your well being by promoting circulation and ultimately improving comfort.
- Comfortable pillow – A pillow can affect the curve of your neck while sleeping, as well as controlling temperature. Determine what kind of pillow would work best for you; orthopedic, feather or memory foam. Continue your clean sleeping by adding a pillow protector to your choice of pillow style.
Develop good bedtime habits
- Get on a schedule – Your body has it’s own regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This works as an internal clock and will tell your body to feel energized and alert during the day and then sleepy and restful during the night. If you establish a schedule to go to bed at the same time each night, you will be able to rely on your own body to help you regulate sleep.
- Turn off electronics – Studies are showing that the light you receive from your smart phone, tables and other electronic devices are inhibiting your bodies ability to produce melatonin which is the hormone that helps you move into a sleeping state. If you need to use your electronics close to bedtime, consider using the night shift mode on the device which changes the color of the light from a blue hue to a warmer tone based on the time of sunrise and sunset (or you can define the time yourself).
- Aromatherapy – Using essential oils as part of a bedtime routine can have a calming effect on the body and help you prepare for sleep. You can use a diffuser to scent the air, use them in a bath or on your pillow. A variety of scents have been successful in relaxing such as lavender, vanilla, sandalwood, damask rose, ylang ylang and chamomile.
- Journaling – Focusing on positive thoughts of gratitude just before going to bed can help you wrap up the day and start a good night’s rest. Taking the time to write down 3 things to be thankful for will downgrade any stressful thoughts and relax your mind.
Relax your body
- Listen to music – Music that has a slow rhythm of 60 to 80 beats per minute can help you to relax and fall asleep faster. Listening to music for 45 minutes before bed has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – The National Sleep Foundation recommends a relaxation method that tenses and then relaxes muscles in your body that is called the progressive muscle relaxation. The Mayo Clinic includes instructions for this technique as well as several others in this article Relaxation Techniques. This exercise helps you to experience the difference between relaxation and muscle tension which give you the control of how to relax your body.
- Breathing Exercises – Here is a breathing exercise that is promoted by best-selling author, Dr. Andrew Weil that is said to help you fall asleep in under a minute. The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise relaxes you by increasing the amount of oxygen that is traveling through your blood stream, slowing your heart rate and releasing more carbon dioxide from your lungs.
- Find your sleep position – How you position your body during the night can determine the quality of sleep you receive. There are three main sleeping positions: back, stomach and side. Individual preference has a big impact on the sleep position that you choose. When you are ready to go to sleep, moving into the position that is most comfortable for you can promote the perfect sleeping environment.
This list includes a lot of options for you to try adding to your bedtime routine to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Some things may work for you, and others may not. Go ahead and try different options until you find the combination that works best for you. I would love to hear about any ideas that you have in the comments below!