Are you often left wondering why you’re not getting a good night’s sleep?... It could have something to do with your sleep environment. You should never underestimate the importance of your sleep environment, as it plays a crucial role in the quality and quantity of the sleep you get.
Your bedroom should be your sleep sanctuary! It should be designed specifically to create restorative and restful sleep. But too often our bedrooms can become cluttered, noisy and bright – creating an environment that is working against good sleep. (Dr Micheal Breus, 2017)
If sleep is important to you maybe it is time you start looking at how your sleep environment is affecting your ability to sleep properly. To ensure you are getting the best possible sleep, all while improving your health, consider the following characteristics of your sleep environment:
Noise can be a tricky one because it really comes down to the individual, but most people will find it easiest to sleep in a quiet place. Sometimes we may not even be fully conscious when we hear noise, but it can definitely result in coming out of deeper sleep stages. It can be quite difficult to enjoy restful deep sleep when in a noisy environment. But while certain noises cause interrupted sleep, soft, steady sounds can be soothing, you just have to know what’s right for you.
Similar to noise most people will prefer to sleep in a cool environment. We can become quite restless when we’re hot and bothered. Do you wake up during the night sweating or shivering? then it’s time to take control of the temperature of your sleep environment. There’s no reason for you to be sweating or shivering. The ideal temperature to sleep in is 16-18°C. Your body heat peaks in the evening then drops down when you’re sleeping, meaning temperatures over 24°C are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C will make it difficult to drop off, with 16-18°C being the perfect in-between.
The amount of light around us is what our body uses to work out when it’s time to wake and when it’s time to sleep, making it important that we sleep in darkness, as light makes our body alert rather than sleepy. Research also shows that when in darkness, your body releases a hormone called melatonin, that helps the body drift off. According to Dr. Michael Breus - The Sleep Doctor (2017) the brain takes in information about the light in your environment, that information then helps to regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Your bedding/mattress is something that often gets looked over but is one of the most important parts of your sleep environment. Your bed can be the determining factor between getting a great night’s sleep. Your comfort is a priority! and it is important to have a mattress that is just right for you. A mattress too hard or too soft is no good. It can cause much discomfort and exacerbate any health or medical issues that you are dealing with. Many professionals talk about the importance of maintaining a good sleep posture. A mattress that is too soft will cause us to slouch, while one that’s too firm can apply pressure to our hips and shoulders. Furthermore, if your mattress has lumps, sags, rips, stains, holes it may be time to replace it. Do you find yourself constantly fluffing your pillow throughout the night? it may be time for a new one.
5. Technology/ distractions
A major issue with many sleep environments is the constant distractions, our bedrooms need to be associated with sleep. By removing all distractions from the room your brain will naturally only associate your bedroom with sleep. The bedroom should be a place for rest and relaxation but unfortunately many of us think of our bedrooms as an extension of our living rooms or sometimes even office. Things like playing games, answering calls or emails, watching TV, should not be completed while in bed. Not only can TVs, computers, phones and tablets prevent us from falling asleep, but also be disruptive throughout the night. As mentioned earlier, melatonin helps us fall asleep, but the blue light from our devices is preventing the body from producing enough melatonin.
As you can see there are a number of things that can affect your sleep, but lucky for us they’re all pretty easy to change. Often the importance of your sleep environment is getting overlooked, but with these simple changes you can turn your bedroom into the sleep sanctuary you need it to be!
A good sleep environment is key in relaxing and repairing your body and mind, while allowing you to sleep effortlessly.