Insomnia, or trouble falling or staying sleeping, is usually a symptom caused by stress, anxiety, depression, pain, illness, medications, poor diet, or sleeping disorders. However, it could also be caused by a sleep environment that is not conducive to restful slumber. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 48% of Americans report short-term sleeping difficulties, while 22% experience chronic insomnia.
If late night talk shows have become a part of your routine, survey your sleep zone to see if any of these qualities are missing.
1. Dark Matters - Light is a cue for the body to awaken and disturbs melatonin production; darkness signals relaxation and sleep. If you are unable to install blackout shades in your bedroom, wear a sleep mask. Be sure to face the clock toward the wall so the light is diverted and there is no temptation to check it all night long. Remove any other sources of light, no matter how tiny they may be.
2. Cool and cozy – A range of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature to snuggle under the covers and rest peacefully without night sweats or chills. To save on air conditioning, use a fan, a great source for white noise (see #4), which might help drown out other disturbing noises.
3. Exclusive – Use the bedroom only for sleeping and intercourse. This “stimulus control” helps make a strong mental connection between your bed and sleep. In addition, limit the amount of time spent laying in bed once the alarm goes off or prior to bedtime. Avoid napping.
4. Peace and quiet – Strive for a soundproof slumber. If you are a light sleeper, the tiniest peep might disturb you. White noises help mask out disturbing sounds with a light, soothing sound. Fans, pre-recorded soundtracks, ocean waves, or rain are just a few options you could try.
5. Consistent schedule – No matter whether it is a weekday or the weekend, go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. A routine helps set your body’s rhythms, eventually allowing your body to run on autopilot – sleeping when appropriate and rising when necessary.
6. Create a ritual – Each evening, prepare your body to wind down and anticipate bedtime. Soak in a warm bath; listen to soothing music, read, or meditate.
7. Journal – A day’s work is never complete. Before you attempt to lie down, jot down your worries and reminders for the next day, so your mind can rest, too. If anxiety keeps you awake, add journaling to your bedtime ritual or keep a pen and pad by your bed to note any last minute thoughts.
8. Get comfy – We spend 1/3rd of our lives sleeping – in an ideal world! Invest in comfortable bedding, a quality mattress, and a variety of pillows (one can be placed between or behind your knees). This is one of the best ways to create a healthy foundation for a good night’s sleep.
9. Unplug - Electronics and television should NOT be allowed in the bedroom. The light and electromagnetic radiation has been shown to cause un-refreshing sleep.
10. De-clutter – Make your bedroom your “den of zen.” By creating a peaceful space without constant reminders of “to-dos” and stress, you may keep those sleepless nights away. Unfolded or dirty laundry, unpaid bills, unfinished work, piles of Post-its, and pets take up space in both your bed and your mind.
Need more help? Here’s a cute visual with some more helpful tips!