Is there anything more frustrated than waking up in the morning feeling more tired than you did the night before? You know how important sleep is to your mental and physical well-being yet it often seems futile to do anything about it. The good news is that it often takes just a few tweaks to our environment or routines to make a big impact on our sleep.
1. Keep screen time out of the bedroom. Televisions, smart phones, tablets and laptops all emit light that fools our body into thinking it’s time to be awake. Best practice is to avoid screen time for at least an hour or two before bed, but if that’s not possible, at least avoid using them in bed. Instead, try reading in a comfy chair by lamplight to get your body ready for rest.
2. A tidy, organized bedroom can help you relax. You’re definitely not alone if you tend to let your bedroom get cluttered and stay that way. After all, nobody but close family members ever sees it! A clean serene bedroom not only looks nice, it can be a retreat from the day’s stress and not another thing that you really should get to. Once you’ve cleaned, maintaining it can be part of your daily routine.
As an added bonus, a clean, uncluttered room will reduce the amount of dust you are breathing in at night, which is particularly important if you have allergies.
3. To piggyback on number 2, if you have allergies or asthma, do take measures to keep your bedroom as free of allergens as possible. Get rid of rugs and carpets and wash bed linens in hot water regularly. Use allergy free mattress and pillow covers to reduce dust mites. Keep pets and outdoor shoes out of your bedroom. An indoor air purifier can also be helpful, particularly during hay fever season.
4. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible at night. If you use an alarm clock, position it so that it’s not shining into your face. Use motion activated nightlights instead of ones that are constantly one. Blackout curtain liners can be helpful if you live in a place that gets almost constant in the summer or if your bedroom windows are near streetlights or brightly lit buildings. Many people find that an eye mask can help if blocking out all light is impossible.
5. At the same time, do try to let in the early morning light to help you wake up gradually. If it’s not possible to arrange your blinds or curtains to let some light in, look for alarm clocks that emulate the rising sun. If you live in an area that gets very little sunlight in the winter, talk to your doctor about using light therapy to help you wake up fully in the morning and feel more energetic during the day.
6. Keep your bedroom cool at night. Most people sleep poorly in hot, stuffy bedrooms. Be aware that air conditioners and furnaces can dry out the air and make breathing more difficult, which impacts the quality of your sleep. Consider using a humidifier if the air in your home is too dry and causing you (or your spouse!) to snore, sleep with your mouth open causing sore throats or are waking up with painfully sore or bleeding nostrils.
If you tend to be cold at night, consider using a programmable thermostat or a safe space heater with a timer to keep the room warm until you fall fully asleep.
7. A white noise machine can be useful for blocking out sounds so that you can relax and fall asleep. Some people find that the constant sound of a ceiling or floor fan also provides enough constant, predictable noise to allow them to ignore outside sounds. Talk to family members or roommates about ways that they can be considerate about noise late at night, such as using headphones to watch television or keeping doors shut.
8. Be mindful of the products you use to clean and scent your bedroom. Many people react poorly to strong scents from cleaning products, scented candles and sprays. Try using unscented laundry detergent and cleaners and avoid scented products if you find that you have frequent headaches, rashes or nausea. Washing your bed linens frequently, dusting and vacuuming and keeping laundry out of the bedroom will go a long way towards keeping your bedroom smelling fresh and clean without sprays or candles.
9. Invest in a new mattress if you wake up with aches and pains or if it have been using it for longer than seven years. Take your time and do your research to find a mattress that works well with your body type. A good quality mattress probably won’t be cheap, but careful comparison shopping will ensure you get the best deal possible.
As the father of five young children, Jacob Maslow understands the value of a good night’s sleep. He’s also the marketing director of AllergyBeGone a top online retailer of allergy bedding and air purifiers.