Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
And we all have our reasons — we’re busy, we’re anxious, we’ve got a big day to prepare for tomorrow.
But delaying sleep, or getting subpar sleep, poisons every other aspect of our functionality. Restful sleep is associated with juiced creativity, better academic performance, stronger muscle development, lower risk of depression, steadier blood sugar, stronger heart health, curbing weight gain, faster memory recall, and it gives the brain a chance to flush out toxins.
And even if you believe that all of those things are true, bad sleep is an epidemic sweeping the first world.
Now, there are many ways to get right about the kind of sleep you’re getting.
Taking melatonin supplements (the hormone that regulates your sleep), not drinking caffeine after noon, not eating late at night, being treated for a sleep disorder, and other methods can all contribute to a “productive” night’s sleep.
But there is a lot of evidence to suggest that your bedroom — your relaxation sanctuary, your wind-down space, your safe haven — has a lot to do with the quality of sleep you’re getting.
Optimizing its layout and features can assist you on your REM cycle route.
We’re going to look at several design elements you can implement in your own bedroom to make sure that your sleep habits are helping you, not hurting you.
Warm colors — like red, yellow, or orange — actually have a physiological effect on us. They can raise the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. That spells disaster for sleep.
Keep your room decor (walls included) cool — meaning you’re using blues, greens, purples, and grays. These colors have the opposite effect. They ease tension, level the breath, and induce calm.
If you can’t paint your walls where you leave, hang sheets of cool-colored fabric from the walls and be sure any decor you use in the room isn’t bold and bright.
The Right Mattress
Mattresses with innersprings are still the most popular form of mattress in the United States, but they yield the lowest satisfaction rating. Memory foam mattresses have a more than 81% customer satisfaction rate, and here’s why.
The heat from your body softens the foam at critical points, allowing the foam to contour to your body shape and help avoid “sleeping wrong” — or sleeping in a painful position that causes aches the next day.
It especially helps if you sleep with a partner, because you don’t feel their movements in the night and thus aren’t disrupted.
If your mattress isn’t supporting you, getting sleep will be a difficult task even if everything else about your room reflects serenity. Consider whether you require a more firm mattress, or a more giving one, and adjust accordingly.
Soft Light and Soft Scents
Unfortunately, technology is a pox on a healthy night’s sleep. Blue light from screens delays the release of melatonin, so although it may feel like binging a show is helping you relax, it’s actually keeping you awake. So they’ll have to be avoided. (If you’re worried about how you’ll fall asleep without the TV, try coloring in bed, reading, making to-do lists to assuage your night time anxieties, journaling, knitting, working on a crossword, drawing, etc.)
Make sure the bulbs in your bedroom are incandescent, so they don’t glare at you and trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime.
Use aromatherapy in the form of essential oils — not air fresheners. Because our olfactory regions are wired to send information directly to the brain’s memory and mood center, it’s crucial that your relaxing space smells right.
Get yourself an oil diffuser and try lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, sandalwood, eucalyptus, or any other essential oil with a sedative effect. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine himself, spent much of his life studying the healing, calming, and regenerative powers of essential oils.
Get Your Design Right
Try getting these elements in order:
- The National Sleep Foundation suggests that the ideal temperature for falling asleep is between 60-67 degrees. Experiment til you find the one that suits you best!
- According to the principles of feng shui, you want to be able to see your bedroom door from your bed. You also want to be able to exit it from either side, so no jamming your bed into a corner wall. Finally, ensure that there’s a solid wall behind the bed.
- Add greenery to your bedroom. They not only add oxygen (though small doses) to a room, they can also give off sedative scents and aid in purifying the air. Consider jasmine, gardenia, English ivy, aloe vera, and lavender plants.
- Clear your surfaces of CLUTTER. Allowing the eye to fall on heavily populated spaces does nothing to relax the mind.
Not everything is within our control. You may have loud roommates, or similarly loud children. You may have chronic anxiety. You may have a diagnosed sleep disorder.
But it’s important to remember to control what we can, and that starts with your sacred, secure, sleeping space.