There’s no question our bedrooms are our sanctuary.
They’re our escape from the outside world. They’re a place for relaxing, sleeping, dreaming, making love, meditation… and sometimes even napping.
Notice I didn’t mention things like our bedrooms are places for watching TV, surfing the Internet, making late-night business calls, checking emails, playing video games, etc.
Why is that?
Because many elements of today’s modern technology can have quite a negative impact on our sleeping patterns and bedroom senses.
So I encourage you to call upon your seasoned senses to identify, create and enhance your ideal sleeping environment – which will in turn provide you with sweet dreams, each and every night.
Eating and drinking before bedtime can drastically affect your sleep quality.
For example, foods containing tryptophan (a key ingredient of the sleep-related chemical serotonin) can make many people feel tired and drowsy.
Remember all those post-Thanksgiving naps you take each year? Well the turkey you consume during your Thanksgiving meal contains tryptophan and is partly responsible for your post-meal crash on the couch.
Foods including fish, chicken, eggs and some nuts contain approximately the same amounts of tryptophan as well.
Additionally, carbohydrates allow more tryptophan to be supplied the brain, so if you’re craving a snack before bed, experts recommend whole wheat crackers with a little peanut butter – or even some milk and cereal – to help you fall asleep faster.
Conversely, foods such as fried, fatty or even spicy dishes are recommended to avoid before bedtime since these are proven to upset your sleeping patters as well as your overall quality of sleep.
Your best bet is to eat high-protein meals for breakfast and lunch when your body requires the daytime boost of energy, then eat a light dinner (or light snack if needed) and definitely avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol after 3pm if possible.
Eating and sleeping are surprisingly tied closely together, so make sure you watch what you eat throughout the day, since it will most likely have an impact on your sleeping patters later that night.
Many people forget how integral a part our sense of smell plays when it comes to enjoying a good night’s sleep. For example, the scent of lavender has been shown in studies to decrease heart rate as well as blood pressure, allowing your body to relax and fall asleep more easily.
A study of infants also determined they cried much less and enjoyed a better night’s sleep if they had a bath containing lavender scented oils before they went to bed.
So it’s always a good idea to surround yourself in your bedroom with the scents that relax you – whether its candles, oils, or small sachets on your bedside table, relaxing smells can drastically improve your sleeping patterns.
And since smell is so closely tied with sleep, it’s recommended you wash your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week if possible. And make sure you choose a laundry detergent that’s pleasing to your sense of smell as well. If not, it’s going to be a long night for you.
Also, experts agree that a fresh, clean and organized bedroom can definitely help translate into a relaxed mind and body.
Random noises throughout the night are more likely to wake you up if you’re in a light sleep (stages of 1 and 2) than if you were in a much deeper sleep (stages 3 and 4).
A recent study determined white noise “sleep therapy machines” (also sometimes referred to as “sound conditioners”) have very positives effects of blocking out noises and distractions to allow for a better night sleep.
Research has also found many people are more apt to wake up when a sound is emotionally charged, as opposed to just a random noise. This is why a parent could possibly sleep through a partner’s loud snoring, but would wake up immediately if a baby starts crying.
I always recommend the use of white noise sleep therapy machines in the bedroom. They help mask unwanted sounds from the outside, and also encourage a very constant and soothing sound inside the bedroom – allowing you to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.
Our eyes (or more specifically our retina) constantly send messages to our brain which then triggers all kinds of moods, behaviors and feelings. For example, as daylight begins to fade, the hormone melatonin starts to rise and our body temperature starts to fall – and it’s because of both of these reactions that our bodies begin to relax and start to welcome the idea of rest and sleep.
When morning light comes, our melatonin levels are still very low, but our body temperatures slowly begins to rise as well as an uptick of the hormone cortisol which helps us to feel awake and alert. It’s this combination of chemical shifts that provides us that subtle boost we need to start our day.
Both light and darkness tell our bodies that it’s time to rest, or time to get up, so it’s not surprising that lighting in the bedroom (and in our daily lives) has a huge impact on sleep quality. Many people even turn to light therapy gadgets to help them balance their internal clocks throughout the day and/or night.
Certain lights after dark (such as those from a computer screen or tablet device) can also send confusing messages to your brain, sometimes suppressing production of melatonin, in turn making it difficult to fall asleep.
Another great piece of advice is to keep your bedroom as dark as possible. I often recommend sleep therapy eye masks for those that have bedrooms where it’s difficult to get dark enough.
Consider low-wattage lamps by your bed to help wind down before you go to sleep and also consider blocking the bright, glowing lights of TV’s, electronics, and bedside clocks if possible.
Many sleep experts agree a room with a temperature of approximately 65 degrees is ideal for a good night’s sleep. And the touch and feel of your pillows, mattress, sheets, blankets and sleeping clothes affects the way you sleep.
Your mattress and pillows should be comfortable and supportive. Some prefer soft mattresses, others prefer firm. There’s no real right answer, so just use what’s most comfortable and supportive for you.
One additional word of advice – wear light, loose-fitting, breathable fabrics to bed. Your body temperature will be easier to regulate, and you won’t feel so restricted as you sleep.
So does all of this sound simple enough?
Who knew that sleep could involve so many aspects of our five senses.
What are some of your tricks to fall asleep?
Share with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.
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