5 Ways to Make Your Room a Better Sleeping Environment
Even when you know you're tired, it can be hard to fall asleep at night. And once you get to sleep, you can still end up tossing and turning all night. Not getting enough, or good enough, sleep can have real-world consequences. Besides the unpleasantness of just feeling tired, lack of sleep makes you sluggish and less productive at work. It also makes it harder to focus on whatever you're trying to do. If you're having trouble sleeping, one solution that may help is to improve your sleeping environment. Here are some ways to do that:
1: Cut the lights
The average home literally glows at night. In addition to plug-in light sources such as night lights, there are all those little LEDs on electronic equipment. Street and yard lights shining through windows add to the glare. Deliberate or not, these light sources tell your body to stay awake – especially since many LEDs contain considerable levels of blue light, which suppresses production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. The solution: unplug or cover as many light sources as possible, and close the drapes.
2: Hide the clock
There are a couple of problems with one particular kind of light source: the modern digital clock. The bright LED numerals are an especially disruptive source of light. For one thing, just like any other light source, they fool the brain into thinking it may not be night after all. For another, they show how much time is left before you have to get up. Just thinking about that can get you wondering whether you'll be able to get back to sleep before the alarm goes off. And once you start wondering, you probably won't. So cover the clock, or turn it so you can't see it.
3: Spritz a relaxing scent
Adding a soothing scent can transport your mood to laid-back places. Some scents are widely recognized to be especially effective at making you feel like sleeping. Lavender is by far the best known of these. Other popular relaxation aromas include vanilla, valerian, and jasmine. On the other hand, if you find yourself sleepy in the morning, the smell of peppermint wafting through the air might perk you up. In all cases, make sure you use a spray, a scent in a jar or a plug-in dispenser. Avoid scented candles, because of both fire danger and the carbon dioxide and other fumes they emit into the air.
4: Keep your smartphone and computer off
Checking social media or the news online gets your mind wound up, not relaxed. Also, such electronic devices are another source of anti-relaxation blue light. You should avoid both for at least 90 minutes before bed. And if for some reason you need to use your smartphone – to use it as an alarm, for example, or for soothing go-to-sleep music – make sure to use Night Shift or another method of warming up the screen colors from wake-up blue to relaxing orange.
5: Keep it cool
Lowering the temperature in your room to between 62 and 68 degrees helps your body follow its natural pattern of cooling during sleep. Everyone will have a different optimum temperature, so you'll need to find yours by trial and error. Once you've got it, turn down the thermostat 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime to get the cooling started as soon as you hit the pillow. At the same time, make sure you wear socks and light bedding to make sure your feet don't get uncomfortably cold.
After you've optimized your room for sleep, a good next step is to schedule a massage. The relaxation benefits may seem to need no explanation, but there's solid scientific rationale as well: “Massage interrupts the neurohormones connected with sleeplessness and almost manually imposes sleep on you,” according to therapist Belleruth Naparstek, M.S., as quoted in a book by Michael Wenkart.
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