Getting a good night’s sleep is probably one of the most important things you can do for your health, as your body repairs and restores itself during those precious six to eight hours each night.
Yet according to the National Sleep Foundation, over 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and an overwhelming 60 percent of adults report having difficulty sleeping a few nights a week or more.
This is significant, since lack of sleep has been linked to several chronic conditions affecting the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems, as well as disrupting the metabolic functions of the body. And if you’ve ever been around a sleep-deprived person before, you know that moodiness and irritability are two of the most noticeable side effects.
Before you run to the pharmacy in search of dangerous and addictive sleeping pills or potions, you may want to take a good look at your bedroom. The atmosphere of this all-important room can make or break your sleep cycle. Here are five key changes you can make to your bedroom to ensure a good night’s rest:
1. Invest in a comfortable bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 93 percent of people surveyed agreed that a comfortable mattress played a key role in their ability to sleep well. Comfortable sheets, pillows and blankets also ranked high on the list. Make sure you invest in a quality mattress and replace it every seven years.
Also be sure that the mattress suits your needs. Do you have a partner or pets that share the bed? Do you need more or less support? Is the mattress only comfortable for one of you, and leaves the other tossing and turning? Be sure to invest in a suitable mattress for your situation.
2. Keep your bedroom dark. The presence of light interferes with your body’s ability to secrete the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin. Prepare your body for sleep by dimming the lights and turning off all electronics, especially televisions. Make sure your room is as dark as possible once you are in bed by turning off hallway lights, as well as closing blinds to block out any outside lights.
3. Dial down the thermostat. Your body temperature naturally decreases while you sleep. Before you get into bed, turn your thermostat down between five and ten degrees below the daytime setting to ease your body into slumber. You may want the room even cooler if you share the bed with a partner or pets, or if you use heavier bedding.
4. Keep work outside the bedroom. You wouldn’t sleep in your office (though you may have been tempted), so don’t work in your bedroom. Remove anything that doesn’t have to do with sleeping or implies work or stress-related activities. That means no exercise equipment, computers, telephones or tablets. There’s no need to be reminded of unanswered emails or missed workouts – you can tackle those problems tomorrow.
5. Turn down the volume. Another reason to keep your bedroom free of electronics: all of their alerts, notifications, bells and whistles can jar you out of a weak sleep cycle. Keep anything that may chirp, beep or ring outside of the bedroom, and if you need to fall asleep to the sounds of a television, be sure to set the sleep timer so it doesn’t wake you hours later.
For other noises you can’t control, try to drown them out with a white noise machine or play a CD of relaxing sounds, such as ocean waves. For those who require complete silence, a pair of earplugs may be the best investment you can make.
-The Alternative Daily