10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Sleep Environment



By Kyla Miller, R.H.N.;

Most of us know what happens if we don’t get enough sleep. We’re tired, cranky, and every task seems harder than usual. Additionally, studies have shown that sleep deprivation can actually lead to weight gain. You most likely have heard the recommendations to exercise, avoid eating before bed and practice deep breathing in order to improve your sleeping habits. These are all excellent suggestions that should be considered if you are having trouble falling and staying asleep. Something else to consider is your sleep environment. Getting a great night sleep can be as simple as changing the environment in which we sleep. To get you started, here are 10 easy ways to improve your sleep environment.

1. Keep it dark

Darkness acts as a natural signal that tells our bodies that it’s time to sleep. When we’re in darkness, our body releases a hormone called melatonin that relaxes our body, which in turn, helps us drift off to sleep. Light, however, suppresses melatonin. Even in the middle of the night, your room can be lit up by street lighting or even a full moon. So consider investing in some good curtains or indoor blinds that filter the light out. It goes without saying that nightlights should be avoided where possible. The darker your environment, the easier it will be for your body and mind to fall asleep.

2. Add noise to taste

Everyone reacts differently to noise when falling asleep. Some can’t have any noise, while others sleep best with recurring noises such as rainfall or a fan. Recurring noise can be effective because it can give your brain the opportunity to associate the sound with sleep. Whatever your preference, take note of how you feel and make sure that it has a calming effect.

3. Comfort is a must

There are not many of us who love a hard mattress, but a bed that is too soft can be bad for our posture and in turn our sleeping habits. One of the best mattresses we have found is made of memory foam. It is a firm mattress that moulds around your body for complete support. If investing in a memory foam mattress is too expensive, a memory foam topper would also be beneficial. In addition to the comfort of our mattress, we must also consider our pillow. A pillow has two main purposes - to provide comfort and to correct sleeping posture. A good pillow supports your neck and head, putting them in the correct posture, preventing stiffness and muscle pains in the neck, back, head, and shoulders.

4. Natural vs. Synthetic

What about our sheets? The type of materials that touch our skin can have a direct effect on our sleeping habits. Synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic and nylon have been known to irritate the skin and cause allergy in some individuals.  Natural materials such as organic cotton or hemp are much better choices for they do not have any fragrances or fire retardants leaching into our environment which can overtime affect our nervous system, and thus our ability to sleep.

5. No TV in the bedroom

Having a TV in the bedroom makes it that much easier to turn it on before bed. Most television is negative and can leave us feeling anxious or irritated. Additionally, the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) given off from the TV, can bounce around in our body and cause free radical damage. Sleep is a time for healing and rejuvenation, not more damage. Additionally, the light projected form the T.V. does not allow you body to produce melatonin. It leaves us feeling both drained and excited - as one part of us want to fall as sleep, and the other is stimulated to stay awake.

6. Get grounded

This suggestion can also be applied outside of the bedroom. Getting grounded means touching your bare feet to the earth. When we do this, EMFs that have accumulated throughout the day are taken out of our body and deposited into the ground. The way we can bring this into our bedroom is by purchasing a grounding sheet. These sheets plug into an outlet that is grounded and transfer the currents though silver threading. When your bare skin touches the sheet, it is as if your bare skin was touching the ground. Releasing EMFs at night allows for a deeper sleep and well resting feeling when we awake. Furthermore, getting grounded helps our body recover quicker through the uptake of essential minerals and negative energy, thus enabling us to get a better quality sleep. For more information on grounding, please see our previous article.

7. Use your bedroom/bed only for sleeping

When you think of your bedroom, what do you think of? Do you think of work, entertainment, or sleep? Ideally, your bedroom should be a place to sleep and nothing else.  However, even if your bedroom is used for other things, ensure your bed is used only for sleeping. This means not using it as a chair, table or anything else. It must be kept for the sole purpose of sleeping. By using your bedroom or bed only for sleeping, your brain will begin to naturally associate your bedroom with sleep. As it does this, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep each night.

8. Add the smell of lavender

A few drops of lavender essential oil in a handkerchief or a homemade lavender linen mist sprayed on your pillow has been known to be an effective aromatherapy remedy for insomnia. Breathing in lavender vapours has been cited to help with relaxation and in turn a sleep aid. One to two drops is all you need, otherwise lavender can actually turn into a stimulant. Although this does not work for everyone, in our opinion, it’s worth a try.

9. De-clutter

Have you ever walked into a room and immediately felt anxious due to the clutter that surrounded you? This is the opposite of what you want to feel when you enter your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a haven for relaxation and rest - an area of your home where you can rest your mind and body. Having an organized, clean, clutter-free bedroom will help you relax as soon as you step through the door.

10. Invest in an air filter

It is important to have clean air when we sleep. By investing in a good quality air purifier, it will help rid the air of airborne toxins, microorganisms, and allergens. Further to this, it will also help regulate the temperature of you room. Ideally, it is best to have the temperature of your room set anywhere between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit so that it can keep your brain cool during sleep. In the summer months however, you may also open your window to let in a through breeze. If you prefer, you may also invigorate your room with plants. Not only do they bring much added colour and peace, but they also filter the air naturally.
A good night's sleep is vitally important for our health. If you're not able to fall asleep and stay asleep, try out some of these suggestions and let us know how they work for you. Visit our previous article for other tips on how to sleep better.

Your question: In what other ways have you improved your sleep environment? (post your comments below)

Sources:
http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm
http://sleepdisorders.about.com/od/howcanisleepbetter/a/The-Importance-Of-Your-Sleep-Environment.htm
http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips 
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About the Author : Kyla Miller is the co-founder of guidinginstincts.com. She has overcome illness through dietary/lifestyle changes, and practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and is currently studying to become a Reiki Master.

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