Getting serious about getting a good night's sleep
Sleep is such an important part of living a healthy life. Like, maybe one of the most important. Every holistic health expert out there lists getting enough good quality sleep as one of the top things you can do for a healthy body and mind.
Yet many people still have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep for the full eight hours. I'm fortunate that I'm not one of them, but I have family and friends that struggle with this problem so I know how real and frustrating it can be.
Setting up your bedroom for quality sleep is crucial, and yet it’s something that’s often overlooked. Our environments play a large part in our health and wellness, so paying attention to how you set up your bedroom is vitally important in this part of being healthy.
9 ways you can prepare your bedroom for better sleep
Remove ALL electronics from your room. Yep, all of them, including the TV, phones, tablets and computers. The blue light, EMF’s and the mental distraction of electronics can truly mess with the quality of your sleep. Keep a central tech charging station somewhere else in the house, outside of bedrooms. You might even consider turning off your wifi at night to reduce the EMF’s in your whole home.
Ensure total darkness. Darkness is vital for regulating circadian rhythm and sleep patterns, and the presence of even a small amount of light in the bedroom can reduce melatonin levels and disrupt sleep. Don't keep an alarm clock that shines bright - choose one where you can turn the light setting off, or better yet keep it outside of the room altogether (this Wake-Up Light Alarm from Philips is genius). Put tape over small lights like the one on the smoke detector. And make sure your blinds or drapes are room-darkening and cover as much of the window as possible so that streetlight or moonlight can’t shine through (covering up your window at night also subconsciously feels more secure and reduces anxiety). If you have a child that wants a nightlight but has trouble sleeping, try getting them to move it farther and farther away until it's out of the room.
Block out noise. It's not so much sound itself that prevents sleep, it's the inconsistency of sound or silence that can be disruptive. So if you have trouble staying asleep you need to work at keeping noise at a constant level. Keep your door closed and sleep with earplugs if you've got a snoring mate.
Get the temperature right. Research has shown that the optimal temperature for sleeping is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15-20 degrees Celsius. When you sleep your body temperature goes down and then starts to warm up towards the end of your sleep as a signal to wake up. So if you sleep in a cooler room you'll be less likely to wake up during the night. However, sleeping at a temperature that is too low isn’t great for you either. If your room is too cold or you don’t have enough blankets, your body might try to lock in heat by shivering and narrowing the blood vessels in your skin. Not great either. Everyone's sleeping temperature is different, so you'll need to find exactly what's right for you. Wear socks if your feet get cold. Sleep with blankets on your side only if your partner gets too hot. Open a window if possible.
Remove all clutter. Seeing visual clutter induces a cluttered mind - even if only subconsciously - which is disruptive to sleep. Feng Shui says that clutter blocks the flow of energy, so your bedroom should be clear of stuff stored under the bed, clothes lying everywhere, and exercise equipment taking up floor space. Even if you’re not a minimalist, clearing your bedroom of all but the essential furniture is wise for this space.
Make it calming. Your bedroom is your sanctuary - it should make you feel relaxed and peaceful the moment you step in it. Arrange your furniture in a way that feels natural and visually pleasing; if you don't feel right with your bed in a certain spot, change it. Feng Shui says not to position your bed in front of a window, or facing a large mirror or the door, as this can disrupt energy flow. It also says that having two of everything (two pillows, two nightstands, two lamps) promotes loving and harmonious energy. Choose a wall color that elicits calm - like a soothing off-white or soft, muted blue or green. Put artwork on the wall that soothes and comforts you (but keep decorations to a minimum). Finally, keep a Himalayan Salt Lamp in your room to create a restful and toxin-free environment.
Invest in the right bed for you. A king size bed is, in my opinion, a must for couples so that you both have the room to get a good night’s sleep without disturbing the other. Investigate your options for the best mattress for the way you sleep (ie. soft, firm, side sleeper, etc). Investing in an organic and/or hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial mattress is also a good idea if yours is ready to be replaced soon. Do your research to find one that has little or no off-gassing to ensure a low-toxic bedroom.
Choose organic bedding. Organic sheets, blankets, pillows and duvets are important since we are exposed to them for a lot of hours each night. Choose from natural fibres such as linen, hemp, bamboo, wool, down, 100% organic cotton or buckwheat. If you don’t have an organic pillow, put an organic pillow cover over it. Same goes for a mattress cover. Making your bed comforting and healthy will be good for the air you breathe in and feel good on your skin.
Make your nighttime routine easy. Creating a nighttime routine that you do every night at the same time will help your body get ready for sleep. It’s easier when your bedroom is set up for it. Create an area for meditation in your bedroom so you can enjoy quiet time before bed. Use essential oils in a diffuser in your bedroom - lavender is known to decrease heart rate and lower blood pressure, and jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood are also good for relaxation and sleep. And set up a bedside table that’s free of everything except a lamp, a book, a tray or bowl for reading glasses and lip balm, a journal and a pen so you can jot down everything on your mind that you’re worried about and not let it keep you up at night.
Want more ways to bring calm to your whole home? Download my free Quickstart Guide to a Calm Home for practical ideas you can implement this weekend.
If you’re more than ready to get more sleep and begin thriving once again, choose one or two things on this list and see how you feel after a week. Then try some more. And let me know how it goes - I’d love to hear from you.