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10 tips to promote a healthy sleep environment

Sleep is important for our physical and mental health. If you want to get a better night’s sleep, you need to have a quiet mind, relaxed body and sleep friendly environment. In this article we will explore 10 tips to create the perfect sleep environment to help quieten your mind, relax your body, and help you towards a good night’s sleep.

1. Find your ideal mattress

Did you know that, on average, we spend a third of our lives sleeping? The surface you sleep on has by far the most significant impact on whether you get a good night’s sleep, yet many people overlook the importance of investing in a mattress ideal for them.1

Choosing a mattress can sometimes be overwhelming with so many choices from the level of firmness to the different types of mattress such as foam, innerspring, latex, hybrid, airbeds and water beds.1 If you are not sure what level of firmness of type of mattress is right for you, it can help to try the mattresses until, like Goldilocks, you find one that’s just right for you.

2. The right pillow

Choosing the right pillow is as important as finding the right mattress.2 The wrong pillow can lead to poor sleeping posture which can result in a sore neck, shoulders and back.2 Selecting a pillow is a very individual process. Finding a pillow that is right for you can depend on fabric, size and even your favourite sleeping position.2 For example, side sleepers may need a firmer pillow and a pillow on the thicker side; stomach sleepers may need a soft pillow, or no pillow at all; and back sleepers may need a flatter, soft pillow to keep the head and neck in alignment.2

3. Declutter your bedroom

To create a healthy sleeping environment, it can help to declutter your room of items and gadgets that serve no purpose in a bedroom. Your room is not your gym, office, or cinema. It is important that you only use your bedroom for sleeping and sex, as using your bedroom for other activities can negatively program your mind to associate your bedroom with other activities.

Move the treadmill that acts as a clothes horse to another room, and do not use your bedroom as an office as this can make your mind associate your bedroom with work and stress.

Getting rid of the TV in your room can also help improve sleep for many. It is easy to find yourself in the habit of watching TV in bed and binge-watching your favourite show can rob you of precious sleeping hours.

4. Ditch the devices

For the same reasons you should not have a TV or computer in your bedroom, you also shouldn’t have a phone, tablet, laptop, or game console in the room either. Most of these devices have content that keeps us engaged for hours, making us de-prioritise sleep. But, did you know these devices emit light that can confuse your body into thinking it is still daytime resulting in the reducing the release of hormones that help you fall asleep? What is more important, your social media feed or getting more sleep?

5. Reduce your light exposure

All light, be it natural or artificial, can impact your body’s natural sleep cycle.3 Our eyes have special sensors that detect the light sending feedback to the brain that it is daytime making it harder for us to fall asleep.3 To create the perfect sleeping environment, it is important to reduce your exposure to light close to bedtime.3 We can do this by investing in blackout blinds, heavy curtains, or eye masks to eliminate the outside light. To eliminate the inside light, we can choose to leave our devices in another room or keeping our devices face-down so when they receive notifications the light doesn’t disturb you.3

6. Quiet bedroom

Noise is a common sleep thief. According to a survey of 20,000 people in the UK, noise was the 2nd most common physical factor for a disturbed night’s sleep.4 Sleeping in a noisy space disrupts the quality of your sleep and can also leave you feeling less satisfied with your overall sleep experience.5 Where possible you will want to minimise any noise in your bedroom.9 Ear plugs can be helpful in minimising noise, whereas white noise machines may be helpful for others. White noise works by reducing the difference between background noise and jarring sounds (called arousals).

7. Bedroom temperature

To create the perfect sleep environment your room needs to be the perfect temperature.6,7 You may have found yourself in the past sticking your leg out of the bed covers because you are too hot with the covers on and too cold without them. Your sleep cycle is linked to your body temperature, and sleep is more likely to occur when your body temperature decreases.6,7 This is why many sleep experts recommend a cool bedroom makes a better sleep environment, approximately 18 degrees Celsius (65 Fahrenheit).6,7

8. Scents for a good sleep

Aromatherapy can help create a relaxing, calming sleep environment to encourage a sounder night’s sleep.8 Using scents can also be helpful in creating a cue for your brain to let it know that it is time for sleep.8 Essential oils with lavender, cedarwood and bergamot which have calming or sedating effects.8 There are scents that you should avoid because they can promote wakefulness than sleep such as rosemary and sandalwood which have been shown to elevate pulse and blood pressure.8

9. Hide your alarm clock

Have you ever found yourself watching the clock, spending your time calculating how many hours sleep you will get? The presence of your alarm clock can create a sense of anxiety that can affect your sleep quality and quantity. If you are going to use an alarm clock to wake you in the morning, then place it out of sight. If you wake up mid-sleep then try to resist checking the time. If the alarm hasn’t gone off, then there is no need to check the time.

10. Design a sleep friendly room

The design of your room should make you feel relaxed and calm.9 You will want a room that is clean, tidy, decluttered and welcoming.9,10 Did you know that even the colours on your walls can set the tone and mood of the bedroom?11 Vibrant colours may be appealing but they are not conducive to sleep.11 Colour influences the receptors in our eyes and the colour that has been shown to be most helpful is blue. However, if blue is not your colour then relaxing shades, like greys, silvers, and neutrals since these cool colours have also been known to help lower blood pressure and heart rate.11 Warm colours, like pale yellow, may also work, since they can help create an inviting, cosy feel.11

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