Sleep Better at Night
- By Adam Turner
- Mar 30, 2017
Sleeping at night should be easy. What’s more natural than grabbing some shut eye? It often seems as if we spend our waking hours yawning, yearning for a nap, working toward an all-too-brief moment of rest and relaxation. Yet when the sun disappears and the night sky returns, so many of us find ourselves tossing and turning, unable to get the sleep our bodies need.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. You might find it difficult to work productively in a messy, loud environment. That analogy holds true for sleep as well: you must feel comfortable in your surroundings to achieve great sleep. Thankfully, there are many small ways to improve your sleep environment and, resultantly, sleep better at night.
Optimizing Light and Sound
As David Bowie once asked, don’t you ever wonder about sound and vision? They are arguably the two most important factors when preparing for sleep. Or, more accurately, they are the most susceptible to distract you from sleep. Here are a few tips to optimize light and sound in your sleep environment:
1) Beware of electronics. From televisions to smartphones, the artificial “blue” light that is emitted decreases melatonin production. It tells your body to wake up. As it gets closer to bedtime, consider keeping them turned off.
2) Embrace the darkness. Turn the phone off or over, cover up miscellaneous light sources, and invest in heavy, dark curtains to truly envelop yourself in the night.
3) Find your sound. Analyze what’s keeping you up at night and make a change. Crickets outside your window? A squeaking ceiling fan? Many find white noise or nature sounds to be an effective means to drown out everything else and allow you to fall into a peaceful trance.
4) Wake up to light. It seems counterproductive perhaps, but the best way to sleep at night may be to let the light in during the day. Immediately upon waking, begin introducing light into your life: walk your dog, enjoy some coffee outside, or some breakfast by a window. Spend more time outside during the day whenever possible, and invite more natural light in your home by opening blinds and curtains. When evening comes about, you can start gradually reducing light until it’s pitch black by bedtime.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable
You can fall asleep uncomfortable, certainly, but it won’t be easy. And why would you want to? With a few quick adjustments, you can make your sleep environment a place of respite and recovery, not something to suffer through night after night.
1) Set your temperature. Only you know what’s right for your body, but the consensus is mid-60s to low-70s as the ideal sleeping temperature range. If it’s too cool or too hot for you, your sleep will likely suffer. Share a bed with your partner with different preferences? Like all things in a relationship, compromise and meet in the middle with the next tip.
2) Experiment with sheets. They can be vital in keeping your temperature just right, but they can go a long way to keeping you comfortable overall. Try out some different materials to discover what works best for you. And keep them clean! We recommend washing your sheets several times a month to eliminate allergens and dust mites that can impede your sleep.
3) Inspect your pillow and mattress. If one of those is keeping you up, either from sagging or being improperly fitted to your needs, it can be a detriment to your sleep and your health. Consider visiting your local Sleep Outfitters to take our exclusive Sleep Assessment and get fitted with a solution that works for you, not the other way around.
Creating the Mood
As you turn off the lights, you may notice a stack of bills on your nightstand, next to a computer you work from, screensaver flashing. Your TV is set to the Netflix home screen, with thousands of options at your fingertips. A half empty box of pizza sits near the end of the bed. Naturally, there might be a few things other than sleep on your mind.
Now imagine that same room without those distractions. It may not be realistic for you to remove all electronics from your sleep environment, but they could certainly be turned off. You may enjoy handling some work from the comfort of your bed (and we’ve got the perfect adjustable base just for your needs if so), but it could easily be cleaned up and placed out of sight when it’s time to sleep. You may enjoy some nighttime entertainment, but it could be a book instead of a movie close to shuteye.
You can see where this is going. Ultimately no matter what you decide, your sleep environment must have the right “feel” for you. It should be your sanctuary for sleep. Remove all factors that raise your anxiety, stimulate your mind negatively, and affect your body’s readiness for sleep. Otherwise, you could be ruining your night before you even try to doze off.
Most sleeping tips are psychological in nature. You must believe in what you’re doing. If you prioritize your sleep by recognizing how important your bedroom is in the discussion, you can make significant changes to remove distractions and focus on your sleeping. Remember, sleep can be easy if you let it.