Tossing and turning? Make these simple changes to your bedroom environment
Time to hang up the phone.
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Sleep is essential to your day-to-day functioning and well-being. It can change everything from your daytime alertness, to how well your body recovers from and responds to exercise. You’ve probably heard some basic advice, like taking your phone out of your room, staying away from screens in the evening, and sleeping on a comfortable mattress.
While helpful, these recommendations aren't always enough. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation are rampant in the U.S.—one in three adults doesn’t sleep enough. These sleep hygiene tips will help you make the most of your bedroom environment to boost your nightly zzz’s.
Eliminate blue light exposure from phones and other electronics
Phones are one of sleep’s worst enemies for a number of reasons. You’ve probably heard that screens emit blue light, which can disrupt sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you drowsy and plays a key role in your sleep cycle. But looking at a phone before bed is also psychologically stimulating. Phones might be designed for efficiency during your waking hours, but the need to be constantly connected and feel available can disrupt your sleep, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Perhaps you’re avoiding kicking your phone out because it’s what you use to wake up everyday. Consider getting an alarm clock. We love the Sharp Dreamcaster, partly because it can function as an alarm and white noise machine. The Loftie is another great option for those willing to splurge. The smart alarm has white noise, sound baths, and pleasant alarm tones that made our tester happy to wake each morning. Both have dimmable displays, so the screens won’t keep you up at night.
If you need your phone nearby for fear of missing a family emergency, keep it in your room to minimize stress. (Its sleep-friendly settings may come in clutch, though don’t count on them solving everything.) And you might want to silence notifications from all but a select few contacts.
Go for other low-hanging fruit, too. Watching TV around bedtime—in your bedroom, in particular—can disrupt your sleep, and not just because of blue light. TV shows are often created to be stimulating, and could leave you feeling more alert. The toll can even affect children: Researchers found that kids with TVs in their bedrooms don’t read as much, tend to consume less educational content, and have lower grades than their peers without TVs in their rooms. We’re all for having the best of the best TV, but place it somewhere outside your bedroom to decrease disruptions and limit the temptation to watch in bed.
Manage the bedroom temperature
Ever wonder why it’s so hard to sleep during hot summer months? It’s because sleep leads to a decrease in core body temperature—a drop that begins a bit before you even go to bed. Getting the right temperature is key for better sleep quality. “Even moderate heat or cold exposure decreases sleep quality significantly,” according to one research paper.
Of course, temperature is highly personal, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Experts generally agree that the mid-60s is a good target.
Consider getting a smart thermostat, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Gen to make the most of your circadian rhythm, or the 24-hour clock our bodies run on. You can set a schedule on the device to mimic and support your circadian rhythm.
The thermostat should drop the ambient temperature close to bedtime, in keeping with your body’s natural temperature change. In the morning, let it begin to warm your space to the temperature you prefer during your waking hours. Starting this process an hour or so before you want to wake up may even help you feel less groggy.
Keep your room dark and quiet
If you’ve ever tried to doze off when a bright light is on, you probably know just how much it can change your slumber. Like temperature, light and the human circadian rhythm are intimately intertwined. A decrease of light in the hours before bed nudges your body to produce melatonin, making you feel tired. Conversely, light will cue your body to wake up in the morning.
Having a good set of curtains, or even blackout curtains, will prevent light, including morning sun rays, from penetrating your room and waking you up. They’ll also make your room dark in the mornings, so it could be ideal to pair them with a sunrise alarm. Something like that Phillips SmartSleep will wake you with a synthetic sunrise at a time of your choosing.
Moreover, sudden loud sounds can impact your sleep. A sound machine can help muffle and dampen otherwise loud noises that could wake you. We love the Adaptive Sound + Sleep machine; it even has a built-in microphone to monitor ambient noise, and adjust as needed.
If you sleep with a partner who can’t bear the thought of a white noise machine running all night, something like the Bose sleepbuds might fill the bill. Many swear by these in-ear headphones that muffle external noises. They snugly tuck into your ear and won’t bother those who sleep on their sides. (If you’ve ever tried to lie on your side wearing Airpods or Airpods Pro, you know what we’re talking about.)
Make the bedroom a relaxing space that’s designated for sleep
As tempting as it might be to watch TV or work in bed, making your bedroom a sacred space for sleep is essential. Using it for too many non-sleep activities can make it difficult for your brain to shut down and relax in the evenings when you actually want to sleep.
If you don’t have enough space to create a designated sitting area, or you live in a studio apartment, consider setting up a part of your room for soothing activities. A comfortable upholstered chair, for example, might be the perfect place to read, journal, or otherwise wind down in the evening.
Your bedroom shouldn’t provoke stress. Even choosing the right paint color could help you sleep. Blue and green are among the top choices, especially for bedrooms.
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