Sleep is vital to human functioning. We all know this. It's just sometimes our minds don't pay ball.
Creating ideal sleeping conditions is the first step to getting into the sleep zone. It sounds obvious, but if you do a quick scan of your sleeping environment, you might find a few anti-sleep culprits lying about.
Here are our top tips on creating the right environment for a good night's sleep.
Put. Down. The. Phone.
And iPad. And Surface. And any other device with blue light. There are no loopholes here.
Screen time and your bedroom are a no-go. Your pre-sleep habit of flicking through your social media feeds, watching just one more episode on Netflix or looking through emails is not conducive to a good night's sleep.
Solution: Ditch the device an hour before you want to sleep and pick up a good ol' low-fi book instead or soak in a bath.
In our primal bones, we all know that light affects our sleep – but how does light affect sleep? Beyond our conscious minds, tucked away in our brains is something akin to an internal clock. Light helps this clever region keep its natural rhythm, and daylight tells us it's time to be active. As the daylight gives way to night, melatonin levels rise, our body temperature drops and we start winding down.
Seems like our bodies have it all figured out, right? Well, not really. Thanks to artificial light our rhythm can get interrupted, so it's best to ensure your room is not blazing with light.
Solution: Use lights with dimmers or a low wattage on them, including your bedside lamp. You should also check that no light from outside (that goes for both sreetlights and that pesky dawn business) can peek through and disrupt your sleep patterns.
Also, if you're a shiftworker, you may find that your body has trouble adjusting and your sleep may be compromised. It's vital that you set aside enough time to sleep and adhere to these tips to help you get the best sleep possible. The Sleep Health Foundation has more ideas on how shiftworkers can get the optimal amount of sleep.
The best temperature for sleep lies between 15—20 degress Celsius. Now that is a broad brushstroke, as it does depend on the individual. The bottom line is that it is best to create a cooler (read: not icy cold) sleeping environment. Why? Our bodies naturally cool down when we sleep and then warm up near the end of our sleep to tell our bodies to wake up, so you guessed it.
Solution: Find the temperature and situation that you are most comfortable in. Here are some tips on how to keep cool in bed.
Lay it down
This is a bit of a no-brainer. Your sleeping environment could be stellar (quiet, dark, crispy cool scented with an aromatic mix of lavender and chamomile) but if your bed is not suitable to your lifestyle, or has seen better days, your hard work will be vain.
Choosing the right bed is a combination of your personal likes and dislikes and some good old common sense. Some words to the wise: measure the bed against your room to make sure there's room to move. You don't want to fall in love wit ha super king bed and then find out that it doesn't fit in your room. On the other hand, don't underestimate how much room you and your partner need. Ideally, a couple should invest in a queen or king-sized bed.
Solution: Think about the mattress you are sleeping on and whether it provides the right level of support and comfort.
Dark , cool and quiet. This trio is the foundation of a peaceful bedroom environment.
Quiet is a tricky one, as it's usually external conditions that can cause the disruptive noise. It's generally inconsistent noise that is the real deal breaker for sleep. If your bedroom is privvy to outside sound that you have no control over, you might want to invest in a sound machine or earplugs.
The above are non-negotiables when it comes down to creating a peaceful sleeping environment. Here are some other elements to consider that can help beckon the Sandman:
Colour me calm
You may have a personal soft spot for vivid, highly pigmented colours, but that doesn't mean they should be your bedfellow. If you find your vibrant wall colours a little too rousing, opt for soft naturals (beiges, taupes and whites) or pastels to make the space feel calmer.
Keep it clean
The last thing your overworked mind needs is visual clutter. To help create a peaceful sleeping environment, minimise bedroom accessories and try to keep it as clutter-free as possible.
Scents can evoke memories, stimulate us or relax us. Harness this capability and get some oil burners, candles or diffuser reeds in your bedroom. Lavender has a solid reputation as a soothing and relaxing scent, while chamomile is purpoted to have sleep-inducing qualities.
Is there anything better than climbing into a bed with fresh, clean, crisp sheets on it?