Do you find yourself tossing and turning in bed every night, unable to fall asleep for hours? Before you turn to sleeping pills to try and get that much-needed rest, try making some small changes in your bedroom that can help to put you into a deep and relaxing slumber every night.
1. A good mattress
A good quality, comfortable mattress is essential to a good night’s sleep. If your mattress is too lumpy, hard or soft, you may be too uncomfortable to fall asleep and find yourself tossing and turning in bed at night. A mattress used for more than seven years is likely not giving you the right amount of comfort and support that you need for some solid shut-eye. As your mattress ages, it loses its ability to relieve pressure on your joints and your body – your sleep quality suffers as a result. An aching back is one of the most prominent signs that it’s time to get a new mattress.
Consider replacing your mattress – there is a wide variety to choose from according to your budget and needs, from pillow and foam mattresses to waterbeds and airbeds. Before you start shopping for a new mattress, make sure you do your research. Mattresses can be expensive and you want to take your time to choose the right mattress for yourself. Once you have a mattress in mind, be sure to test it out. Don’t be shy to lie on the mattress at the store just like you would on your bed at home. Also be sure to figure out the size of the mattress that you need – a small mattress could be the reason you’re not able to fall asleep at night, especially if you’re sharing a bed with someone.
One of the most important conditions required for a good night’s sleep is darkness. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our mind and body’s natural circadian rhythm follows the dark-light cycle. The circadian biological clock is controlled by a part of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus that respond to light and dark signals. The optic nerves in our eyes sense light and transmit a signal to the SCN telling the brain that it’s time to wake up. This explains why jet lag puts us in conflict with our natural sleep patterns – the shift in time and light cues on the brain forces the body to alter its normal pattern to adjust.
Our bodies need a dark and calm environment for a good night’s rest. Our cortisol levels are relatively low at night, allowing us to sleep, and artificial lighting at night (LAN) in the form of modern devices such as digital clocks, televisions, mobile phones and computers can disrupt this. We need to keep our bedrooms as dark as possible and avoid blue light before sleep – turn off all your light-emitting gadgets and make sure to shut those drapes and keep your bedroom door closed. As tempted as you may be to check your social media accounts or reply an email, stick to a rule of not looking at your phone or computer screen in the hours preceding sleep. An eye mask can also help to deepen darkness and protect against intrusive light.
Too much clutter in your room can cause anxiety and deprive you of your much-needed sleep. Clutter can make you feel uneasy, worrying about tripping over something when you get up in the middle of the night to visit the restroom or worrying about having to clean up the mess in your room when you wake up the next day. Your mind is probably already full of the day’s clutter so it would be best to keep your bedroom neat and tidy and create a calm and relaxing environment for yourself.
A peaceful bedroom means a peaceful mind, and a peaceful mind means a peaceful night’s sleep. Start small by making your bed every morning. Once that becomes a habit – it only takes 21 days to form a habit – you can move on to bigger things like laundry. There are also a variety of storage options that you can look out for when you go furniture shopping that will help to store your items and make your room feel more spacious. Also, make it a habit to always put your belongings back in their place. Not only will this make it easier for you to find your things, it will make your room more inviting and create a more conducive environment for a good night’s sleep.
4. Calming colours and soothing scents
The colours with which you paint your bedroom walls can actually affect how well you sleep at night. Studies have found that the colour blue is the most soothing shade, with light blue having the strongest link to tranquillity. Cooler shades are always better choices for the bedroom – have you noticed that waiting rooms in clinics are usually painted in cool shades? The soothing tones help to keep people calm as they watch the clock and wait their turn. You might want to consider painting over your brightly coloured bedroom walls with muted blues, greens and pastels instead. Keep the bright colours to a minimum, as accents on your pillows or in artwork.
Aromatherapy can also help to relax your mind and body and allow you to have a restful night. Fill the air with soothing scents such as lavender which has been shown to decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. Lavender can also help with mild insomnia and provide a better quality of sleep. Essential oils can be diluted by water and diffused into the air, or a few drops can also be gently rubbed into acupressure points on the body to promote better sleep. Some essential oils that can help relieve stress and transport you to your dreamland are bergamot, ylang-ylang, jasmine and chamomile.
While more serious sleep disorders may need special medication, lifestyle changes or medical equipment, these tips can help the rest of us design our bedrooms to invite the best sleep of our lives. Make these simple changes to your bedroom that can help to improve the quality of your sleep and enjoy the resulting benefits in all areas of your life. Sweet dreams!