Can’t get to sleep? Your bedroom could be the cause of your insomnia, leaving you feeling groggy, irritable and not operating at peak performance. A few quick fixes and lifestyle shifts can make your bedroom a more ideal place to catch some zzzs tonight.
Keep It Dark
Our bodies are designed to rise and fall with the sun, but with artificial light everywhere, we’ve been able to trick ourselves into staying up later then we should. Keep any artificial light in the bedroom soft and minimal (think lower watt lightbulbs) and minimize where light might flood through with blackout blinds and a non-electronic alarm clock. Your bedroom should be completely dark when you’re falling asleep. If you’re struggling to keep the light out of your bedroom, wear a sleep mask to bed to block out the last vestiges of light.
Cool It Down
As you drift off to sleep, your body naturally cools down as it enters rest mode. Encourage a quicker wind down by keeping your bedroom somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees. Studies have found that this is the optimal range for quality sleep.
Ditch The Electronics
Most electronics, from phones to alarm clocks give off an underlying blue light which is known to affect brain activity strongly. This makes drifting off to sleep nearly impossible, particularly because a lot of us spend that last hour of our day browsing our phones in bed. To combat this problem, a good rule of thumb is to have a strict ‘no electronics’ allowed policy in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be designed for sleep and sleep alone, not other activities like surfing the web, catching up on e-mails or watching TV. Opt for a traditional, battery operated alarm clock and leave your phone or ipad in the living room when you go to bed. Trust us, your e-mails will still be there in the morning. If you’re struggling with doing nothing before bed, opt for low-stimulating activities like reading to soft, yellow-red light (consider candle light) or listening to relaxing music.
Noise is another huge factor when sleeping that can be a little trickier to control depending on where you live. If you’re environment is noisy or you live with a roommate that stays up later then you, try using a fan, humidifier or white noise machine to drown out background chatter with some light, soothing noise instead.
Design your bedroom to maximize sleep-inducing comfort. Opt for soft sheets that don’t irritate your skin, calming scents like lavender and chamomile and the right mattress and pillows for the way you sleep. Look for medium firmness mattress to offer the right amount of support without forcing your body in a stiff position. When looking for a mattress, spend a good 15 minutes lying on it before you make your decision. If you sleep on your back, look for a thinner pillow so your head and neck are not positioned too far forward. If you sleep on your side, look for a firmer pillow that can stabilize your neck and head, and make sure to tuck your pillow in the negative space under your neck, not under your shoulder which forces your body into an awkward position.
There are also some light stretches and movements you can do to mentally and physically prepare your body for sleep. These easy to do moves can be done on your own or they can become a family ritual, it’s never too early for little ones to learn a healthy evening routine. As with any pre-bedtime ritual, focus on allowing your day to melt away, as anxiety and stress are a deep sleep’s worst nightmare. Instead, focus on how the stretches make you feel.
Elevating your legs encouraged blood circulation and helps reduce varicose veins. This is especially necessary for people who are on their feet for long periods of time throughout the day, or chronic leg-crossers, although everyone and anyone can benefit from this practice for about 10-15 minutes. Simply line your bottom up with a wall (place a blanket or yoga mat for comfort) and lean your legs against the wall, with the pads of your feet facing the ceiling. This one is particularly fun to try with kids as it usually induces giggles.
Twists promote healthy organ function and proper digestion. Lie down on your back with your legs bent, heels on the floor and arms outstretched in a T-formation. Slowly let your knees fall to one side, while turning your head to the opposite side for a few minutes, then alternate. For additional seated twists, click here.
Photo courtesy of: flickr.com