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What’s a Good Sleep Environment?

by Bill Welles

You cannot overstate the importance of a calm and peaceful bedroom environment to the quality of your sleep. Your bedroom should be your personal sanctuary for healthy, restorative slumber, but all too often, bedrooms are too bright, too loud, and too cluttered for a good night’s rest.  

The ideal sleeping environment is a cool, quiet, and dark bedroom. Ceiling fans are a great option to create both a cool and quiet sleep space. The fan will circulate air throughout the bedroom and the spinning fan blades produce white noise to help drown out the ambient tones from the outside that might keep you awake at night. Closing the shutters and turning off your phone help reduce the glaring light, but beyond that, there are 4 major factors that could affect your sleep environment: sight, sound, touch, and smell. 

Sight

The first step in creating a proper sleeping environment begins with light. A bright bedroom can be the biggest factor inhibiting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. When exposed to too much light, your brain stays on alert and struggles to regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and sleep-producing hormones such as melatonin. If your melatonin levels are low, you will remain more active instead of sleepy.  

A completely dark bedroom is best for sleep. The darkness stops the alertness signal and starts the engine that is needed for sleep. Your brain slows down and progressively begins the stimulation of melatonin. While it can be difficult to achieve total darkness in your bedroom from TV screens to streetlamps, there are a few ways to introduce the darkness into your bedroom. 

Introducing peaceful colors is the best way to start. Use color schemes that feel tranquil like soft blues, grays, and whites. These soft hues are a simple and elegant touch to your bedroom décor. Colors that are too bright can be stimulating and affect your sleep even if you aren’t consciously aware.  

Keep the bedroom lights low with dimmer switches and slowly reduce the amount of light in your bedroom as you get ready for sleep. Nightlights and motion sensor lights are another good investment so you can avoid turning on overhead lights when you need to get up in the middle of the night. If you don’t have blackout shades, make sure your curtains cover the entire window. And if appearance doesn’t matter to you, you could always bust out a traditional sleep mask. 

Ideally, you should have no screens in the bedroom at all, but if you need the sound of the TV to fall asleep or you need your tablet close by, set a timer to turn off your devices at the time you normally go to sleep. If you need your phone on your bedside table to act as your alarm clock, turn the brightness down and set to “do not disturb” mode so you aren’t bothered by alerts and notification in the middle of the night. Reading before bed is great, but if you read on a digital device, block out the blue light filters in the evening to limit the bright exposure.  

Sound

Even while you sleep your brain can process sounds. That’s why we toss and turn when our partners spend the night snoring, or we jolt out of bed as soon as we hear the baby crying. Some sounds can be jarring and disruptive, and other sounds can be soothing. The quieter your bedroom is, the more sensitive your ears become. Sometimes a bedroom that is quiet as a mouse can be just as problematic as a noisy one. The key is finding the right balance and focusing on reducing or blocking the noises in your room that are disruptive during sleep. 

You can use earplugs to help drown out unwanted sounds. Foam and silicone are the most popular types of earplugs, but it’s about finding a pair that is comfortable and fits well. Choosing the right alarm is the most important factor in terms of sound. We all need something to jumpstart us in the morning, but if you rely on an alarm, the blaring digital tones can prevent your body from waking up naturally. Softer, more delicate tones are best to wake up to so your body has time to function and you can roll out of bed peacefully. 

If you need a little more help, sound machines can be a nice touch to your sleep environment. They help you fall asleep and stay asleep through otherwise disruptive sounds. Relaxing white noise such as waterfalls, wind, thunder, or meditative music can be very relaxing before bed.  

Touch

You dive into bed each night and rest your head on the pillow, but other than that, you might not think about how touch pertains to proper sleep. But come on, is there any better feeling than getting into bed and sliding underneath freshly washed sheets? This is how touch plays an impactful role in our sleep environment. Soft, high-quality sheets and bedding that fit your climate and body’s natural temperature are key to achieving proper sleep. They feel good on your skin and regulate the humidity from your body heat. Keeping a moderate-to-cool temperature is necessary for a healthy 8 hours because we generate the most heat at night when we sleep. That’s why breathable materials like cotton, down, linen, silk, and wool are best for sleep, and synthetic materials such as polyester tend to trap heat, moisture, and don’t breathe nearly as well. 

Smell

Whoever smelt it, dealt it—the last key to creating a proper sleeping environment is the smell. Smell is one of our most potent senses which can govern our responses to emotion, memory, and hunger. These powerful impulses can trigger alertness, or they can help calm and soothe us. That’s why introducing the right scents before bed can help create a sleep-friendly bedroom. It is crucial to monitor and be aware of the air quality in your home to reduce any obstacle to your sleep. 

First things first—open the windows. This is the easiest way to welcome fresh air into your bedroom and clear away any dust or irritants that have built up inside your room. It’s a good idea to open the windows regularly to freshen the air in your sleep space. If seasonal allergies make this an impossible feat, try an air filter or purifier in place of cracking the window. 

Aromatherapy is another great aspect of scent lending its hand to a proper sleeping environment. Soothing, calming scents can help our bodies unwind naturally and get ready for sleep. Lavender is one scent that is especially conducive for quality sleep. Lavender helps increase the depth of our slumber and reduce morning grogginess. Chamomile is another great relaxing scent that promotes healthy sleep. Find a scent you like and see how it works. Odds are, if you enjoy the scent, you will feel much more copacetic before bed. 

If you are updating your bedroom to create the perfect sleep environment, remember to listen to your senses. You can create a proper sleeping space that is inviting, relaxing, and sleep-friendly every night. And if your mattress might have something to do with it, give us a call or stop by our store to shop our entire line of mattresses and sleep accessories. When it comes to sleep, comfort is always key.