As you’re probably already aware, sleep is vital for your physical and mental wellbeing although many of us don’t get nearly enough of it.
Unfortunately, just like knowing you need to eat healthily and keep your weight in check, simply understanding the importance of sleep is only half the battle; we actually need to make sure our sleep environment is conducive to a good night’s rest too.
It’s difficult to overstate how important your bedroom environment is when it comes to nodding off and staying asleep. Ideally, it should be your sanctuary for restful, restorative sleep but all too often bedrooms are noisy, light and cluttered which can inhibit sleep massively.
For the perfect night’s rest, here are a few simple steps you can take:
Make the room dark
Too much light streaming in and you’ll struggle to sleep. When your brain takes in information about the light around you, it uses it to regulate your body’s sleeping-waking cycle. It also has an effect on the release of certain bodily chemicals, including the “sleep hormone” melatonin. When your bedroom is very bright, melatonin levels remain low which tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and you’re supposed to be awake rather than sleepy.
Darkness on the other hand triggers the brain to slow down and increase its production of melatonin, making you feel tired. Don’t forget that bright screens have the same effect, so put your phone, tablet or laptop down long before you turn in, and store them out of your room.
Keep the noise down
Your brain actually carries on processing sound even when you’re asleep, which is why your partner’s snoring can wake you up even when you’ve been spark out for ages. However, whether a sound actually interrupts our sleep or not depends on the nature of it. Some are loud and jarring and make us jump awake (baby screaming anyone?), whereas others are soothing and restful, like waves on a beach or the sound of rain. It’s worth remembering too that a bedroom that’s too silent can actually keep you awake just as much as a noisy one can. The key is to focus on reducing and blocking the sounds which are disruptive to sleep as much as you possibly can (earplugs are your friend!)
Comfort is key to a great night’s sleep. There’s nothing nicer after a long hard day than slipping in a pair of fresh pyjamas ready for bed. In fact, the sense of touch plays a crucial role in our sleep experience and it’s well worth choosing comfortable bedding and nightwear that is soft and good quality. Try not to get too hot or too cold and go for breathable fabrics such as cotton, down, wool, silk and linen. Avoid synthetic fibres such as polyester, which don’t let your skin breathe and tend to trap moisture and heat.
Make sure your mattress is right for you
If your mattress is too hard or too soft you may well end up with aches and pains which disturb your sleep. Also if it’s very old or the springs aren’t as good as they once were you’re probably not getting the right support for your back which could be keeping you awake. If this sounds familiar, consider getting a new mattress to help get the restful sleep you need, and make sure it’s the right size too (feet hanging off the end just isn’t comfortable). A mattress topper is another alternative, and will provide added comfort.
Check out your bedding
Nothing is more annoying (or sleep depriving) than an under sheet that keeps slipping off or a blanket that’s too itchy. So make sure your bedding is as fresh, new and clean as it possibly can be and that everything fits properly.