Do you ever wonder when you crawl under the covers at night, why you can’t fall asleep right away? One reason might be that you haven’t created a relaxing sleep environment. Your brain takes certain cues to get sleepy. So use these tips to clue your body in as to when it’s time to hit the hay.

1. Keep the bedroom and bed for “bed specific” activities. As tempting and as comfortable as it may be, don’t bring your work into the bedroom. You want your body know that once you are in your bed with the lights out, it’s time to rest.

On that same note, when it is time to get up, don’t lie around in bed watching television or checking your phone. Get out of the room to a place where your brain realizes it’s time to start the day.

2. A dark room. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that helps our body sleep. While melatonin is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists, it’a clear that it helps to tell the body what time of day it is. Melatonin is also thought to be more active at night, or in the dark. This is likely the reason why we can get sleepy in dark theaters or on cloudy days. To take advantage of the power of melatonin, try to find dark shades, especially if there are street lights outside of your window, or wear a comfortable sleep mask.
Along the same lines, it’s also important to get sunshine at the start of your day.  Sunshine signals the body’s hormone system as to what time of the day it is, promoting healthy sleep cycles.

3. The proper temperature. Although there is no exact agreed upon temperature by sleep specialists, the general rule of thumb is to keep the room cool. Disturbances in sleep are typically noted when the temperature is lower than 54 degrees and higher than 75 degrees (which is around the universal “room temperature”).

For me, the perfect temperature at night in the summer (where I don’t feel I am draining the bank cooling the apartment, but also don’t awaken toasty and cranky) is 71 degrees. Experiment with the thermostat to find the right temperature for you! I figure if I’m spending a little more money to get better sleep during the summer, I will make up for it in the winter months.

4. The proper noise. Just as we all prefer particular sleeping temperatures, we all prefer a particular level of noise (or lack of noise) that helps us sleep. In high school I lived in a room right by our laundry room, so I often fell asleep to the sound of the whirr of the dryer. I’ve since found it difficult to sleep when it’s dead silent.

I found a simple sound machine a few years back to help with this issue AND to block the noise of my roommate who woke at 3am for work. Not only did I sleep better, I wasn’t irritated at my roommate for her early rising.

I’ve also learned that earplugs can be helpful for trips, and they’re small enough to not be a burden when packing. As a side-sleeper, I put one earplug in the ear that is away from the pillow, that way I can hear my alarm clock going off if necessary. The key is finding what works best for you. If random noises are keeping you up at night OR it’s too quiet, take the appropriate action.

5. Turn your phone on silent. It can be hard to “unplug,” but even if our electronic companions aren’t notifying us of an incoming message, we are probably slightly more alert just in case it does. I have a separate setting on my phone for bedtime where all notifications are silent and it only makes noise when someone is calling. Text messages can wait until the morning. If it is serious, they will make an actual call.

6. Get comfortable. Rest is a key component to a healthy lifestyle, but how can you get  rest if your sleeping arrangement is waking you up at night? Make sure you (and your partner) have enough room to move around without kicking each other. Choose a mattress that is comfortable and won’t leave you with aches and pains.

The perfect, peaceful sleep environment contributes to a good night’s rest which will in turn contribute to better overall health. 

Questions:
Do you prefer silence or white noise when you sleep?
Do you have a hard time keeping work out of the bedroom?

You Might Also Enjoy:
How Getting More Sleep Changed My Life
Sleep in Times Past: 4 Hours at a Time
Blue Light, A Red Light for Sleep

Sources: Sleep Disorders, The Sleep Environment

Originally posted 2013-08-13 09:00:00.

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