8 Hacks to Turn your Bedroom into the Perfect Sleep Haven
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or worse still, do you find yourself constantly waking up at regular intervals throughout the night? We all know how important sleep is, but we also live in a world where success is often measured by how busy we are and lack of sleep can sometimes contribute to this success. However, a lack of sleep can lower productivity, cause excessive tiredness, effect our decision making skills and moods, and lead to poor mental health.
Frequent sleeplessness, or insomnia, can affect all of us. In fact, up to 20% of us have suffered from recurring short-term insomnia and around 10% of us have to deal with chronic insomnia.
Chronic insomnia can be defined as sleeplessness that occurs at least three times per week for a period of at least three months.
Whilst this may sound a little alarming, the good news is that sleep habits and behavior can be changed and lead to a more restful and high quality sleep, therefore leading to a more productive day and a happier you.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine claims that poor sleeping behavior is the biggest reason that around 1 in 5 adults fail to get sufficient sleep. If you suffer from frequent sleep deprivation, the first thing you should do is rule out any medical conditions by making an appointment with your doctor.
In most cases, the reason behind your lack of sleep will be nothing serious and can often be due to habits that you can change yourself. Instead of reaching for a harmful bottle of sleeping pills that can have negative and everlasting effects, you can make a few minor changes to your habits and your environment for long lasting, natural results.
There is a proven link between your environment and your ability to sleep well for an extended period of time. Dr. Christina Brown from the Florida School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University in Tampa states that “In a good number of cases, getting to sleep and staying asleep is a matter of your surroundings.”
It sounds so simple, right? All you need to do is follow our list of eight ways to help you create a peaceful, comfortable bedroom to ensure a successful sleep. By taking control of your surroundings, you will be able to take control of your sleep and will soon find yourself drifting off into dreamland in no time.
Turn Down the Temperature
In order to fall into a blissful sleep (or any sleep at all really) your body temperature needs to be lowered. You can easily achieve this in your bedroom with a ceiling fan or air conditioner. However, air conditioning can be noisy and you may not want to go to the effort in installing these items as they can be costly. Simply open a window a small fraction to allow for cool, fresh air or poke your toes out of the duvet to cool down a little. Having a hot bath before bedtime will also help lower your temperature (with a few essential oils it may also help you relax).
If your room is too humid you are likely to be kept awake, and if your room is too dry your nasal passages may suffer causing snoring and congestion. Both of these are common sleep issues can lead to a poor quality sleep. A dehumidifier can help regulate the humidity if this is a problem for you.
Studies have shown that a room temperature somewhere between 62-70 Fahrenheit (around 16-21 Celsius) is the most effective in signaling the brain to rest.
You may need to experiment a little in order to find what works best for you. Try buying a small wall thermometer to help keep track of the temperature.
We live in a world full of distractions – television, e-readers, tablets and smartphones are all great for communication, but terrible for sleep. The blue screen light emitted from these devices suppresses the production of melatonin. At night time, melatonin levels are supposed to increase in preparation for sleep. This blue screen light also sends signals to the brain that it is morning time, thus time to wake up.
Try to avoid watching television close to bedtime and if you must work late (because let's be honest, it happens) we have a few tips for you. Dim your computer screed to minimize the blue light or try using a program such as f.lux to decrease the light from your screen. If you want to go all out, invest in a pair of amber-tinted glasses. You might feel a little ridiculous, but you will be able to get your work done and fall quickly into a restful sleep.
Try to avoid having devices in your room altogether to avoid the temptation of flicking on the 11 o’clock news.
If you feel you need to read before bed, opt for a ‘real book’ over an e-reader with a harmful screen. We can also suggest listening to some relaxation music or an audio book to help you wind down and drift off.
Adjust Your Lights
It can be a little tricky to just turn your body off as simply as you turn the light switch off. Invest in some low wattage bulbs or dimming lights as they are very useful in helping your body slowly unwind and prepare for sleep.
If changing your whole lighting system is a bit tricky (or simply unaffordable) a soft-lighted side lamp will help. You can even buy dimming lamps so you can slowly decrease the amount of light in your bedroom.
Once your mind and body are fully ready for sleep you will need to ensure your room is as dark as possible.
Kristina Held, assistant professor of Interior Design at the Art Institute of Charlotte, a campus of South University suggests using blackout curtains. They easily block out any light from the moon, street lights and passing cars. Blackout curtains also help with insulation and noise reduction which is particularly handy if you live in an urban area. When morning comes you simply pull back the curtains to let in the natural daylight. This natural daylight can also be used to wake you up. Held recommends positioning your bed so that it faces the east, this way the sun's rays will help you rise and shine.
Remember to avoid the light given off by screens on various electronic devices – these also count as light! Do not answer late night emails from the comfort of your bed. Dr Michael Breus, author of 'Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-week Program to Better Sleep and Sleep Health, points out that the sooner you can create a physical and psychological separation between work and sleep the sooner your bedroom will become more relaxed.
A more relaxed bedroom means a more relaxed sleep. Keep your work out of your bedroom! If you have a bright, digital alarm clock by your bed turn it the other way to help create that dark soothing environment. In fact, any artificial light should be eliminated from your sleeping environment. This type of light interrupts the body's natural sleep cycle - waking you up when you should be winding down - and will making falling into a restful sleep rather difficult.
Red may be your favorite color, and whilst it is perfect for a pair of high heels it won't do much good in your bedroom. It can contribute to keeping you awake and there has even been suggestions that it may make some people aggressive. Instead, opt for space creating natural hues of beige, white and cream, or calming colors such as shades of blue and green.
A study performed by Travelodge in 2013 found that people who slept in rooms furnished with blues and greens get the most sleep. A second study in the United Kingdom where 2,000 participants where surveyed, showed that those who sleep in blue bedrooms sleep an average of 7 hours and 52 minutes.
This is significantly longer than their purple-roomed sleeping counterparts who only get around six hours. This is perhaps due to the fact that there are specialized receptors called ganglion cells that are found in part of our eyes. These are more sensitive to blue colors and feed information deep into our brains whilst we sleep that can affect how we think and feel during the day.
Adding colors found in nature such as blue and green you will not only be sleeping better, but performing better throughout the day. You can add these colors in the form of the paint you put on the walls, but also the color of your bedding and furnishings. When it comes to paint, it is best to ensure that your chosen paint is VOC (volatile organic compound) free to create a chemical-free space.
Check Your Bedding
We spend around one third of our lives in bed, so it makes perfect sense to make it as comfortable and safe as possible. Upgrading the quality of your bedding is a simple and effective first step to a successful sleep.
We have all heard of celebrities that insist on hotels providing them with Egyptian Cotton sheets with an incredibly high thread count, and maybe they are on to something - scratchy and stiff sheets not only cause discmofort and itchiness, they can be bad news for allergy sufferers.
Luxurious bedding is good for both your physical and psychological well-being. Once upon a time, high end bedding was reserved for those who could afford it, but now there are many more affordable options to cater for just about any budget.
Bamboo bedding is becoming more and more popular, and with very good reason! It is actually softer than cotton and also uses less water in the growing process. It is environmentally friendly and sustainable due to the fact that it grows quickly and can thrive without harmful chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, it filters toxins from contaminated soil, it absorbs around 12 tons of carbon dioxide for every hectare and it produces 30% more oxygen than a hardwood forest of a similar size! Good for planet earth and good for you!
Bamboo sheets require no special care, so you can wash them regularly without causing damage. It is recommended to wash your sheets and pillow cases every week. Using bamboo sheets will not only help keep your conscious clear, but also offers natural thermoregulation and its incredible wicking properties mean that you will be kept cool in summer and warm in winter.
They last a long time, making them a worthwhile investment when creating your ideal sleeping environment. Bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic, antibacterial and chemical free which will allow you to rest in comfort, therefore meaning you are more likely to remain asleep all night.
In order to get the best possible sleep, you need the best possible mattress. The firmness and style of the mattress will depend on personal preference and personal needs. Tamara Robbins Griffith of IKEA Canada suggests consulting a specialist when it comes to purchasing your mattress in order to accommodate your weight, favored sleeping position and other sleeping habits. You should also ‘try before you buy’ – head to the store and lie down for a reasonable amount of time on a range of mattresses before making your final decisions.
Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein of Harvard Medical School suggests you “lie on your favorite one for as long as you need before you buy to make sure it's comfortable.” We think this is good advice, after all, you will be spending a significant amount of time on your mattress.
Once you have purchased your mattress your should cover it with a hypoallergenic cover to help repel dust and minimize allergic reactions. To have a good night sleep buying a bamboo mattress is a good start. Bamboo is a great material for mattress covers as it is free from chemicals and will help naturally regulate your body temperature.
The final step in creating the ideal bedding environment is an appropriate pillow. Your neck and head muscles need to be sufficiently relaxed in order to sleep comfortably. Side sleepers are more likely to need a high pillow to provide adequate support to the head and neck with back and stomach sleepers needing a medium and low pillow respectfully.
Like mattresses, pillows should also be covered in a hypoallergenic cover such as one made from bamboo fabric and then finally covered with a high quality cotton or, even better, a bamboo pillow case.
Remember to wash pillow cases once per week, maybe more if you have oily skin or hair.
Become a Minimalist
We're sure you've heard of the saying ‘less is more’. This is definitely true when it comes to creating a calm and successful sleeping environment. When it comes to furnishing your house and bedroom this is often known as a ‘minimalist’ look. It is no longer considered trendy to have your house piled up with clutter and trinkets. However, this doesn't mean you need to get rid of all your favorite keepsakes and hide away items that show off your personality.
Try to cut down throughout the house, but pay particular focus to your bedroom. If you have an abundance of photos, memorabilia, books, DVDs or piles of clothes do your best to remove them. If you need to keep certain items try and relocate them to other rooms in the house and keep only the bare essentials in your bedroom. By having less you will also find it easier to keep your bedroom clean which in turn will have a hugely positive affect on your sleeping patterns. A tidy bedroom will create a sense of calm allowing you to drift off into sleep and stay there all night long.
Get Back to Nature
Nature plays a big part in developing successful sleeping habits. Just like natural colors such as blue and green will help you fall into a deep slumber, natural elements themselves can help.
A few small plants will do the trick nicely, as will pictures of plants if you're not so much of a green thumb. If plants are not really your thing, then any image or print of natural elements can help. Waterfalls, lakes and mountains are all useful in creating feelings of relaxation and calm.
Natural elements can be extended to scents and smells. It probably obvious that the smell of dirty socks will not help you to relax, but many essential oils will.
Try burning lavender, chamomile and rose in a diffuser for wafting calm. If you choose to use scented candles (they give off a low, calming light too), make sure they are fully extinguished by the time you fall asleep.
Follow Feng Shui
Feng Shui may seem like a load of garbage to some, but it can have a surprisingly positive impact on your sleeping environment. Many of the items we have spoken about such as color and lighting fall under the Feng Shui umbrella. For extra effectiveness, we have a few more suggestions. Firstly, remove anything form under your bed. It may be a useful storage space, but all that excess clutter can hinder your sleep. Next, move your bed away from the wall. A bed that only has entry from one side tends to block positive energy. This may be tricky in some bedrooms, but even the smallest of spaces can make a world of difference. Finally, remove or cover up any mirrors. Katherine Anne Lewis is a Feng Shui master and points out that “mirrors that face you while you’re in bed pull energy away from you–making it hard for you to fully reap the benefits of sleep. The solution? Either reposition the mirror or cover it up with fabric at night.” The need for a high quality sleep is so important that following Feng Shui guidelines is surely worth a try.
Overall, you bedroom décor needs to be inviting and it should be a place you feel relaxed and calm. Invest some time in rearranging your room, maybe even follow some Feng Shui practices to promote positive energy. Invest a small amount of money in quality bamboo bedding, some appropriate colors and get busy decluttering!! Your bedroom and your bed should be reserved for sleep and intimacy only – it is not an office. Refrain from doing work sitting on the bed and keep TV and movie watching in the living room. If checking your phone in bed is a bad habit (trust us, you are not alone on this one) keep it in another room overnight to avoid the negative effects the harsh blue light of the screen can cause.
When you have a restful sleep you will wake feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day. You will be more productive, have more energy, make better decisions and generally feel better about yourself.