Do you think that you sleep well enough at night? Chances are, if you are reading this right now, you suspect that you aren’t sleeping as well as you would like. But worry not, as there are simple things you can change tonight that will greatly improve your quality of sleep. While overall amount of sleep is important, it is equally important that your time asleep be truly restorative.
Itching to find out some hidden sleep traps that are possibly affecting the quality of yours? Then let’s check them out!
Not Sleeping In The Dark
The number of people sleeping with the lights on has consistently increased, with their reasons ranging from one thing to another. However, what often coincides with this exposure to light is disruption of your body’s natural circadian rhythm. In the dark, the neurotransmitter/hormone melatonin is produced, which promotes deep restful sleep.
However, artificial exposure to light breaks down this chemical, so that you are not truly experiencing the restorative effects of deep sleep. The simple fix to this is to ensure you sleep in a room as dark as possible. You should notice a difference in the way your body feels following a week of good sleep.
Sounds Wake You Often
Let’s say that your room is perfectly dark, but you are still tossing and turning due to the tiniest annoying noise. Let’s just say true silence is deafening. What can be done about that? Obviously sound proofing is a viable option, but there is one thing that is superior to that. Introducing white noise- a controlled, consistent low “hum” that tends to drown out other minor nuisances.
Take for example a fan running in the room. It is not noisy enough to be acutely annoying, but is still soothing with its ever present whirring. There also exist specialized white noise machines, which can mimic sounds such as rain, or waves gently crashing on the shoreline. This can contribute to a truly serene sleep experience.
Eating Too Much Before Bed
Those it might sound straightforward that eating too close to bedtime is a bad plan, a staggeringly large number of people still do so religiously, night after night. This poses a problem for a couple reasons.
Firstly, eating a large meal causes food to rest on your stomach for a longer time, which can cause discomfort and inability to sleep.
Secondly, with food in your stomach, the likelihood of experiencing reflux is much higher when you lay down. Many people experience nocturnal acid reflux, which can be serious if inhaled into the lungs unconsciously.
Consuming Stimulants Too Late Into The Day
Most of us drink some sort of stimulant based beverage during the day, whether that be coffee, tea or something of the sort. These are generally accepted to be safe, but can be troublesome when taken too late in the day. While caffeine is common in many of them, it does take about 4 hours to be completed eliminated by the body. So, if you go to be at 10PM every night, stay clear of 6PM if you must have one last booster.
Your Mattress Is Sub-par
When a bout of sleeplessness ensues, the first thing people seem to turn to is some sort of sleep aid. While there are good and bad sleep aids, other avenues should be explored first. Your mattress is one such avenue. If you’ve had your mattress for more than a few years, chances are it’s less efficient than it was yesterday. Springs go out of place, sponge sinks in and bed bugs accumulate- making sleep less restorative and instead a nightly battle.
6 Ways to Improve Your Bedroom To Improve Your Sleep
If you have trouble going or staying asleep, you might want to do a study of your sleeping environment aka, your bedroom. In particular, you will want to look at your:
- Ambient temperature
- Wall color
- Nighttime habits
- Mattress, pillow and bedding
According to experts, the ideal temperature range in your bedroom should be between 16- and 22-degrees Celcius. If your bedroom is too hot, there are several ways to cool it down. Aside from lowering your thermostat so the A/C runs more, installing a ceiling fan, using an electric fan or even opening the windows if the outside is cool (and quiet) are all ways you can reduce the temperature of your bedroom.
The mood you are in right before you go to bed can have a significant effect on how fast you go to sleep. If angry, it will take longer to doze off. One factor that can affect your mood is the color of your walls. Hands down the best calming color for bedroom walls is blue. Studies have shown that it is the most conducive color for sleep.
The science behind it lays with the receptors in your eyes called ganglion cells. They are sensitive to color and when they sense blue, they send a signal to your brain that you are in a calm environment. The brain in turn starts lowering your heart rate and blood pressure getting you ready to sleep.
While blue is by far the best color, there are also others than have a calming effect – just not to the extent of blue. The colors yellow, green, silver and orange all have proven to provide study participants with at least 7 hours and 28 minutes of sleep on average. Those sleeping in rooms painted blue slept 7 hours and 52 minutes.
A litre or two of blue paint is not that expensive and could be just what you need to calm you down and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. It is worth a try!
Deep inside your brain’s hypothalamus is your Suprachiasmatic Nucleus which controls your internal clock. It senses light coming into your eyes through your optic nerve and either starts the process to wake up or continues the process if already awake. If there is light coming in your windows from the outside that you have no way of controlling, invest in either blackout shades or curtains to block out that light.
As with light, there may be sounds coming in from the outside beyond your control. For some people, it works for them to have a sound machine that produces a constant sound, such as white noise or soothing noises like ocean waves, light rain, etc. If you want to block out all noise, consider using ear plugs.
Your nighttime habits can also be a source of your inability to fall or stay asleep. For example, if you use a bluescreen device while in bed, be it TV, e-reader, tablet, laptop or smartphone, the blue light emitted from these devices could be affecting your Suprachiasmatic Nucleus mentioned earlier. Keep in mind the bed should be used for two things: sleeping and sex – that’s it. If you do so, your body senses that because you are in bed, it is time to start winding down and go to sleep. Crazy as it sounds, it works!
Mattress, pillow and bedding
Another source of sleeplessness can be your bed itself. In particular, your mattress, bedding or pillow – any of which can be what is keeping you up at night.
Let’s start with the last one first – your pillow. If you are waking up in the morning with a sore or stiff neck or back on the nights when you do sleep, it could be your pillow is either too soft or hard. Try one that is opposite of what you have now and see if it makes a difference. Web MD suggests back sleepers look for a pillow with neck support on the lower one-third of the pillow, while side sleepers should use a firmer pillow that supports the distance between the ear and shoulder equally.
A worn-out mattress can also keep you awake at night because you can’t get in a comfortable position due to lack of proper support. If it is eight years old or older, it should be replaced anyway. Look for deep impressions that stay in the mattress. These can cause painful pressure points making it impossible to sleep (but you may not know that is the cause). Another sign your mattress is not supporting you the way it should is if you wake up with aches and pains and they disappear within a couple hours of getting up.
Lastly, your bedding should be comfortable. If you tend to sweat while sleeping, look for bedding made from one of the moisture-wicking fabrics. Getting the sweat off your skin will make you more comfortable. Cotton, wool, silk, bamboo and linen all qualify as moisture-wicking. However, if it is too cool in your bedroom, sheets made from polyester or synthetic satin trap moisture and keep you warmer.
In an environment where the outside ambient temperature varies, you may want to have a lighter set of sheets when it is warm in the summer and a heavier set like flannel in the winter when it is colder.
By using the tips in this report, you can make changes to your sleeping environment and enjoy a good night’s sleep over and over. Byusing the tips in this report, you can make changes to your sleepingenvironment and enjoy a good night’s sleep over and over.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.