The quantity and quality of our sleep affects our overall sense of wellbeing, our relationships with family and friends, and our performance at work. With adequate sleep we memorize better, we repair and heal faster, our energy is restored and our daytime mental capacity increases.
But, the way you've designed your bedroom as well as your nighttime habits might be affecting your sleep. Learn how to fix it with these expert tips.
1. Bedroom Design
How you design and decorate your bedroom can dictate how easily you fall asleep. Creating a restful environment starts with the right color palette.
Research has found that above all others, blue is the sleepiest color. In a survey of over 2000 people, it was found that those sleeping in blue bedrooms got the most shut eye — clocking in at an optimal seven hours and 52 minutes. A further 55 percent of those sleeping in blue bedrooms even reported waking up happy.
"Traditional rules for picking colors for your bedroom suggest sticking to muted blues followed by muted greens, but really, any light, muted neutral could suffice to create a soothing environment," says Lisa Rickert, founder of specialist paint company Jolie Home. "It's important to remember that the brighter the hue, the more stimulating the color will be. Red and purple are the worst offenders when it comes to causing a disruptive sleep, followed by primary colors in their brightest forms."
The Goodnight Co. co-founders, Shea and Danielle, also suggest keeping clutter to a minimum. "Your mind is already full of the day's clutter, so keep your bedroom decor simple and your accessories to a minimum to create a calming environment rather than one overwhelmed by stimuli. Making the bed the focal point can also help you streamline the room."
A comfortable bed and the right supporting pillows are by far the most important items to help you drift off with ease. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends keeping your head in "neutral alignment" — the way you would when standing up with good posture.
Invest in a good quality pillow that provides the right support. The outside edge of the pillow is slightly firmer than the rest, so your head floats but your neck is supported in any position. It also has a "high side" and a "low side" to cater to different preferences and a gel-infused memory foam to conduct heat and moisture away from your head. We're drifting off just thinking about it!
3. Bed Linens
Much like your mattress and pillows, the sheets you sleep in can have a surprising effect on the quality of your sleep. "Prioritize quality bedding that is simultaneously practical, beautiful, and affordable to promote a good night's sleep," says Bed Threads founder, Genevieve Rosen-Biller. "Anyone who's ever spent all night tossing and turning in sweaty sheets knows temperature control is one of the most crucial factors in a good night's sleep."
When choosing linens, go for fabrics with built-in cooling systems to keep you comfortable all night.
4. Weighted Blankets
Speaking of bedding, weighted blankets are another sleep solution many people swear by. We can certainly see how the cocooning pressure and cozy touch could help to soothe you to sleep or at least help you to relax. Basically, wrapping yourself up in one of these "calming blankets" feels like a big hug!
Did you know light can inhibit the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that acts like your body's natural sleep drug? Total darkness is most conducive to a good night's sleep, so invest in blackout curtains or blinds.
Dimming the lights in your home and room a few hours prior to sleeping will help you wind down — consider lamps, fairy lights, or dimmers.
Exposure to any light stops the production of sleep-inducing hormones, so try a sleep mask if you can't block all light out of your room.
Use smart lighting that helps to regulate your circadian rhythm. Connected to an app on your phone, you can tailor the brightness and temperature of your lights to compliment your day, whether that's relaxing your body so it's ready to sleep or waking you up with light that mimics the movement of the sun.
Another major highlight of King Living's survey was the impact that technology and devices have on our sleep.
Although we are constantly told not to use our phones or computers at least an hour before bed, when it comes to bedtime respondents admitted to loving their tech even when they are trying to sleep. 74 percent of respondents still choose to sleep with their phone at their bedsides, and 30 percent described their sleep as interrupted throughout the night to check their mobile devices, while 50 percent watch TV and videos in bed before they go to sleep.
Put the phone down, people! If you must have your phone in the bedroom, aim to put it to the side and stay off social media and emails at least an hour before bed.
TV's do not belong in the bedroom — plain and simple. Watching TV before bed will overstimulate your brain and make it harder for you to switch off and unwind.
7. Exercise and Diet
Exercising for just 30 minutes a day has been shown to increase relaxation and improve our ability to sleep.
A full stomach is counterproductive to sleeping well. Eat a light dinner combining complex carbohydrates, calcium-rich foods, and a little protein to ensure supply of the amino acid tryptophan. This is used by the brain to manufacture the sleep-inducing neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin. The classic bedtime drink of warm milk and honey provides all these elements.
A diet providing plenty of calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, B-group vitamins, biotin, folic acid (folate), and zinc is ideal. Excessive amounts of vitamin A in your diet, or lead or copper in your environment, are hazardous to both sleep and good health.
Waking, sleeping and eating at consistent times helps to regulate our circadian rhythm or body clock. This is the system responsible for regulating our sleep/wake cycles and it thrives on routine.
8. Stress Less
Do you lie awake at night thinking about work or what you have to do the next day? Stress is one of the most-common sleep disruptors and the hardest to combat.
Clear your mind of the 'must do' lists well before heading to bed. Try writing a list so you feel on top of things are know exactly what needs to be done.
A warm bath or shower before bed can help induce sleep. This is because body temperature plays an important role in our ability to fall asleep.
9. Slow Breathing Technique
Anxiety is the enemy of a good night's rest and can make going back to sleep impossible. The breath is a simple and effective tool for calming the mind and body.
If you practice a slow breathing routine, you may find it very useful for returning to sleep and reducing anxiety. Breathing costs us nothing, it's always available, and it's invisible — these are all good reasons to learn to use our breath to affect positive change in our physical and mental health.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.