We all have a lot to juggle in our day to day lives; work, family, and socializing. It’s admirable that we dedicate so much time to the things we believe matter, but nothing should be more important than your health. Along with eating well and exercising often, sleep is the best thing you can do to keep yourself healthy.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety. The healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels is directly aided by getting enough sleep. In fact, ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Getting enough quality sleep at the right times also helps you function well throughout the day. People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. If you’re not getting enough rest every night, you’ll notice that it takes you longer to finish tasks, your reaction time is slower, and you make more mistakes. After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two.
The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. You can read more about the benefits of sleep in this guide to good sleep.
If you’ve found that you’re not waking up feeling refreshed and rested, you first need to look at your lifestyle habits. Drinking too much coffee or caffeine products makes it difficult for you to shut off your brain and get some sleep. Checking your emails, social media notifications, or playing games on electronic devices late at night often results in you staying up later than you intended. Also, using your bedroom as a second home office can make it nearly impossible to relax. Your bedroom should only be used for two things; sleep and intimacy. Inviting work into your personal space only makes it harder to switch off in the evenings.
However, if you’ve eliminated all the above possibilities, then the source of your unrest is probably your bedroom. Sleep experts recommend that your bedroom be a cool, dark place to ensure optimal sleep conditions. If you’ve woken up repeatedly in the middle of the night due to bright lights, loud noises, or because you’re too hot, then you need to make some adjustments in your bedroom to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
The first step to creating the perfect environment is to put up a good pair of blackout curtains. Nowadays, we are surrounded by cars, streetlights, or even neon signs if you live in the city. These are all powerful indicators that tell the brain it’s time to be awake, which prevents you from getting the sleep you need. Blackout curtains block out the lights, thus silencing the cues to the brain. This function is especially useful first thing on a weekend morning when you want a lie in; really good blackout curtains will block the worst of the offending sunlight. As an added bonus, some curtains will keep out the drafty air, keep heat in to reduce your energy bills, and even reduce the noise from your outside environment.
Outside noises are the biggest interruption to sleep if you live in a big city. Cars rushing by, clocks chiming every fifteen minutes, and people just getting in from a late night out can abruptly jerk you out from your dreams. The worst case might be noisy neighbors who live directly above you. Since you can’t do much about these noises (except maybe the neighbors), you just have to put in decorations that will muffle the sounds. Your new blackout curtains will help reduce most of the noise that comes from outside. The best thing you can do to nurture blissful silence is to throw a lot of textiles around the bedroom; thick rugs, plush cushions, fabric lampshades, and valances will absorb the sound waves and leave nothing but silence in your room.
Install a ceiling fan
Most people find it difficult to sleep when they feel hot and stuffy under the bedsheets. Experts agree that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 64 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 21 Celsius). But don’t kick your partner out of bed just yet. Simply install a ceiling fan to keep your room at the perfect temperature. An added benefit of a ceiling fan is that it’s cheaper to operate than an air conditioner, so you won’t be sacrificing your energy bills for a good night’s sleep. If you suffer from allergies and are worried about dust being blown around, look for a model whose blades are coated with nanoparticles to prevent dust buildup.
Ceiling fans also create a whispering white noise while they spread the gentle breeze. The two combine to make a lullaby of sorts, which will also help send you off to dreamland. If you can’t install a ceiling fan in your rented accommodation, just open the window a few hours before you go to bed so the room will be cool before you fall asleep. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to keep it open all night. Try sleeping under a fleece blanket if it gets too cold. If the open window brings back your noise pollution problem, you’ll have to invest in some good foam ear plugs.
Upgrade your bed
You don’t need to be an expert in mattresses to know that a comfortable mattress is essential to a good night’s sleep. But the wrong mattress – or a mattress that’s simply too old – can be the cause of more than that crick in your neck or your low back pain. The lack of sleep caused by a bad mattress can lead to obesity, stress, or even a weak immune system. An older mattress also has a higher chance of being home to dust mites, which can irritate your throat and lungs, and aggravate allergies.
If excessive tossing and turning is becoming a regular occurrence, it might be time for a new mattress. When you’ve found your perfect mattress, brighten up your bed with some new hypoallergenic bedsheets. Even if you don’t have allergies, these sheets will prolong dust mite infestation.
Avoid stimulating furniture
As stated above, a bedroom should only be used for sleeping and intimacy, If you bring in any stimulating furniture, such as an office desk or your electrical devices, then you are more likely to lie awake thinking about your to-do lists than sleeping. First, stop using your bedroom as a home office, because it will make you unable to relax once it’s time for you to sleep. Second, get rid of any decorations that could potentially remind you of anything stressful. You may have installed a television in your room, or set up a nook specifically for charging your devices overnight. Maybe you’ve taken up exercising and have installed a treadmill in your room to encourage you to exercise first thing in the morning. Put all these items in a different room, charge one device in your room as long as it’s set to ‘To Not Disturb,’ then enjoy the blissful silence of your mind.
Try a little Feng Shui
When the time comes to repaint your home, try painting your bedroom in soothing colors such as pale blue or lavender. If you don’t have permission to paint the walls in any color other than white, then spray some homeopathic scents, such as lavender or chamomile, around the room. These smells will promote rest and relaxation when it’s time to go to bed.
Next, get rid of anything in the bedroom that isn’t conducive to relaxation or romance. This includes any charging stations for electronic items. Instead, decorate your bedroom with plants, art, or photos of nature to create an ambiance of serenity. Remember, a clean bedroom is a calm bedroom.
The goal is to make your bedroom feel so comfortable and cozy that you have no choice but to nod off once you crawl into bed at the end of the day. Use linen sheets instead of cotton to decorate your bed; linen is textured enough to be cozy in winter and light enough to keep you cool in summer. Also, it’s always artfully wrinkly, so you don’t have to worry about getting out every little bump when you’re making the bed. Use a bedside lamp so you can read with a gentle glow instead of the harsh ceiling lights. If you have the funds for it, go one step further by adding dimmer switches to recreate that feeling of coziness when your mum tucked you into bed.