It’s 11 pm and you’re ready to sleep. You take a shower, change into your pyjamas, set your alarm for 7 am the next morning and slip into bed, ready to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to seize the day the next morning.
One hour later, you’re still wide awake, staring at the ceiling in the hope that you’ll fall asleep soon and avoid feeling tired once you wake up. From the ticking clock in your living room to the temperature, everything around you feels like a distraction.
Your sleep environment has a huge effect on the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and, once you fall asleep, the quality of the sleep you get. When you sleep in an uncomfortable environment, something as easy as relaxing becomes far harder.
If you struggle with insomnia or low quality sleep, improving the environment you sleep in is a great way to enjoy better, deeper sleep. In this guide, we’ll share seven tips that you can use to make your bedroom a more sleep-friendly environment.
Drown out traffic and other noise with a white noise machine
Whether you live in a suburban home or an inner-city apartment, noise is often a problem that prevents you from getting to sleep. Traffic, neighbourhood pets and even the ticking of a click can all keep you awake in bed for hours.
It might sound somewhat counter intuitive, but the best way to reduce the effect of noise on your sleep quality is by creating more noise. More specifically, white noise – a type of noise that drowns out other background noise and helps you relax.
White noise is ambient sound – calming, simple and repetitive noise that’s just loud enough to drown out the sound of barking dogs and ticking clocks, but quiet enough to help you sleep comfortably.
White noise helps me sleep; it helps distract my mind from everything that happened in the day and let’s me slip off to sleep.
— MARK THOMAS (@CAPTURETHECAP) July 10, 2011
You have two options for creating white noise. The first is to purchase a white noise machine that runs while you sleep. The second, cheaper option, is to listen to a white noise track using your notebook computer or stereo while you sleep.
Use high quality bedding that feels soft against your body
Low quality bedding can often have a far greater negative effect on your quality of sleep than a noisy sleep environment. Sheets made from artificial materials such as polyester can often cause you to itch and sweat while you’re in bed.
Sheets made from natural fabrics such as silk, linen or even cotton – particularly in a high thread count for extra softness – tend to feel more natural and make it easier to fall asleep without itching or tossing and turning.
Another factor that can affect your bedding’s comfort level is its cleanliness. Try to clean your bedding once a week – less often and it will become dirty, while cleaning it more often can cause the laundry soap to affect its softness and comfort level.
Choose a mattress that provides the right level of support
An important mattress is to healthy sleep what a comfortable pair of shoes are to healthy feet. You’ll spend about a third of your life in bed, making your mattress a serious investment in your health and quality of life.
Choose a mattress that provides a good level of support so that you don’t sink into your bed when you lie down. A mattress should be soft enough to feel comfortable, but firm enough to provide you with enough support to sleep soundly.
As well as choosing a mattress with the right level of firmness, it’s important to use the right size of mattress. Our custom mattresses are perfect for people that need a little extra length, width or support in order to get a good night’s sleep.
Keep TVs, computer monitors and tablets out of the bedroom
Do you watch TV or browse the Internet before going to sleep? This one habit could be preventing you from falling asleep quickly after getting in bed, and even keeping you up for several hours.
This is because LCD screens like the ones used in tablets, laptop computers and TVs emit blue light – a form of light with a specific wavelength that blocks production of the hormones, such as melatonin, that make you feel tired and ready to sleep.
If you have a TV in your bedroom, make sure it’s switched off at least an hour before your bedtime. Keep your tablet, laptop computer and even your smartphone out of reach for at least an hour before bed so as not to suppress your melatonin levels.
Too hot? Switch on the air conditioner for the right temperature
Temperature has a huge effect on your ability to fall asleep quickly. When you’re too hot, your sweat can make finding the perfect sleeping position uncomfortable. When you’re too cold, the relaxation required for sleep can be difficult to come by.
Research shows that the optimal temperature for deep, refreshing sleep is between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. If you live in an area with a higher average temperature, set your air conditioner to this range to keep yourself comfortable while you sleep.
Need a little warmth before you get into bed? Taking a warm bath before you sleep can increase the natural drop in temperature that occurs when you’re ready to fall asleep, helping you feel drowsy faster once you get into bed.
Before you get into bed, slow down and increase your relaxation
Switching from deep concentration to pure relaxation is very difficult, meaning you probably won’t fall asleep quickly if you leap into bed after a lengthy study session or review of your personal finances.
Spend the hour before your typical bedtime relaxing, slowing down your activities and just being plain old lazy. Sit down in bed and read a book so that the stress and worries of your normal routine drift away.
If you have a lot on your mind, jot down notes on a piece of paper or in a notebook to review the next day. This way, all of your important tasks will be waiting for you in the morning instead of keeping you awake at night.
Make sure the rest of your home is sunny and comfortable
It might sound ridiculous, but your living room’s comfort level has a huge effect on how well you sleep at night. Studies have proven that exposing yourself to daylight improves your quality of sleep, making a well lit living and work space essential.
During the daytime, switch off your home’s artificial lighting and open the blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible. If you work in a building with large windows, do the same thing there – keep artificial light limited and natural light maximised.
This sets your body’s circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle that signals your brain to feel energetic or tired – into the natural cycle of the sun, helping you feel awake and energetic when the sun rises and tired and ready to sleep in the hours after it sets.