Experts Reveal How To Create Perfect Bedroom Setting For Best Night’s Sleep
While the recommendation of getting eight hours sleep per night is all well and good, it’s often much easier said than done.
Today, March 19, marks World Sleep Day; an annual celebration organised by US-based nonprofit World Sleep Society to celebrate the importance of healthy sleep.
Many people don’t struggle with sleep itself, and in fact crave the moment when they can finally sink into uninterrupted rest. Actually reaching that point, however, is a different story, and can often consist of hours spent lying in the dark, just wishing for sleep to arrive.
You might spend the time thinking about everything you’ve got to do the next day, about how much sleep you’re missing out on by not being asleep already, or running over every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done in your life. Alternatively, you might find yourself simply tossing and turning and unable to switch off your mind.
Dr. Maja Schaedel, Clinical Psychologist and Co-founder of The Good Sleep Clinic, told UNILAD there are a whole range of reasons why people may struggle to get to sleep, including effects of alcohol and caffeine, the use of phones, a lack of activity during the day, and stress.
Also, as much as we might love curling up into a ball of blankets, Maja warned that spending too much time in bed can be detrimental as it impacts our ‘sleep drive’ – the pressure that builds up throughout the day which makes us feel sleepy at bedtime and enables us to sleep well throughout the night.
When we want to get more rest we can often spend more time than usual in our beds, either by going to bed early, setting our alarms later the next day or simply not getting up until later.
The problem with this is that is impacts on how much “sleep drive” we accumulate which then impacts on how sleepy we feel the next evening or the quality of our sleep the following night.
Without a good night’s sleep, humans can experience more feelings of anxiety or depression; it can lead to poor nutritional choices, impacting our weight, and restrict muscle tissue restoration and the growth of proteins to fuel our immune systems.
Stephanie Romiszewski, Sleep Physiologist and Director of Sleepyhead Clinic, explained that actively restricting yourself from sleep – for example by trying to keep your eyes open through one more episode – steals away some of your restoration and recovery processes. As a result, you will ‘heal slower, age quicker and be more prone to mistakes, accidents and poor mood and mental health problems.’
Comparatively, just one night of good sleep can help us feel ’emotionally more robust’, with Stephanie describing it as the ‘best free internal energy source we have.’ The benefits of sleep are no secret, and both Maja and Stephanie have recommendations to help to achieve them.
When it comes to creating the perfect setting for sleep, Maja encouraged removing both TVs and clocks from the bedroom, explaining: ‘Your body needs to develop a strong association between bed and sleep and when we watch TV or look at our phones in bed it confuses our body. There’s nothing worse than checking the time and finding it’s 3am!’
Stephanie reiterated the technology ban, though she recommended getting an old-fashioned alarm clock so you don’t accidentally miss your morning work meeting. She recommended making the bedroom ‘somewhere you want to be for peace and relaxation’, and stressed that it should not double up as a place of work.
To help achieve this relaxation, Debbie Drake, Design Director at Dunelm, suggested scenting the room with essential oils, getting comfy with a comfortable mattress and breathable bedding, and making sure your bedroom is quiet and dark by drawing the blinds.
Debbie also suggested ‘cooling off’, explaining that ‘keeping your bedroom at a cooler temperature can help you stay asleep for longer.’
From the moment you begin a snooze session at night, your body naturally begins to shed warmth, reducing your core temperature to reach its lowest point around daybreak – usually about 5am.
Try keeping your sleep space around 18 degrees Celsius and swapping out heavier duvets for more lightweight blankets in the warmer months to promote better sleep.
As for the habits and behaviours that encourage sleep, Maja highlighted the importance of being active during the day to help encourage sleepiness in the evening. She also noted the benefits of cutting down on screen time before bed, and tackling stresses by writing down the things that may be causing worry.
She added: ‘It is helpful to find a time to address your worries in the day so that you don’t end up doing it in the middle of the night!’
Stephanie agreed, noting that it’s ‘better to have a shorter [amount of] good quality sleep than forcing yourself to go to bed when you are worried and stressed and toss and turn for eight hours.’
Rather than brushing your teeth and washing your face right before going to bed, Stephanie recommended getting ready an hour or so before, so that when you feel sleepy you are able to sink straight under the covers without going through a routine which may make you more alert.
One thing that many poor sleepers may find themselves doing is worrying constantly about their lack of sleep, however Stephanie revealed that it is ‘actually your reaction to a poor night’s sleep that changes your daytime behaviours and makes you feel bad.’
Rather than working yourself up about not getting eight hours, the Sleep Physiologist recommended: ‘Get up, eat well and exercise and enjoy your day – focus on the things you can control and let sleep take care of itself.’
If you find yourself able to drift off in the evening only to wake up in the middle of the night, Stephanie suggested making the most out of the situation and becoming ‘a starfish’.
Don’t ‘force’ sleep in the middle of the night if you find yourself awake… Lie with your arms and legs out and relaxed, keep your eyes wide open in a pitch black bedroom, look up at the ceiling and keep the mantra ‘I will stay awake, I will keep my eyes open’.
Often doing the opposite can have a much better affect than forcing your body to do something.
If you find that you’re still not feeling sleepy even after doing your best starfish impression, try leaving the bedroom to ‘do something relaxing’, and remember that your body simply just ‘isn’t sleepy right now’, so it’s best to give it the extra wake time it needs.
Our beds aren’t made for just thinking about sleep, so on World Sleep Day do yourself a favour and try to make your room a sleep-dedicated haven. While it might be hard to avoid one last scroll of the news feed or one last check of the clock, you’ll thank yourself in the morning!
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