Have a rough time getting to sleep — and staying asleep? You’re part of a significant amount of the population. A 2012 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 41% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 55 reported “not meeting their sleeping needs to function at their best on workdays and weekdays.”
The poll also showed that bedroom environments were a significant factor in how respondents perceived their ability to get a good night’s sleep. So what exactly can you do to turn your bedroom into a sleep paradise? Co-founder of High Existence Martijn Schirp shares what worked for him in this helpful blog post:
1. Expel The Light
In today’s neon-lit world, it is hard to get enough darkness. We evolved to spend much more time without a source of light, either sleeping or just resting, than we do in our modern world. When you are exposed to light, your body inhibits the sleep hormone and powerful anti-oxidant: Melatonin. This off-sets your whole neurotransmitter and hormone equilibrium and experts have linked this to chronic stress, Bipolar Disorder and all kinds of immune-system imbalances. Closing your eyes doesn’t help either. Even your skin can detect a small beam of artificial light! Check out this graph:
Lux is shown in a logarithmic scale which means that the difference between direct sunlight, starlight and the reflection on a full moon are immense. By sitting indoors the whole day you miss out on the intensity of direct sunlight, which is a cause of many health problem in itself ( lack of vitamin D for instance). But perhaps more important, using all kinds of electronics at night greatly disturbs your circadian rhythm. One way to counter this and make sure to get enough quality darkness is making sure your bedroom is completely dark. And with completely, I mean total pitch black. Shun the buzzing orange street lights! Here is a picture of my bedroom at night after I installed my blackout curtains:
I have never slept better in my life. Now, you might worry you have to acquire a complete new set of expensive curtains and spend hours to build your own fortress of darkness. Thank god there is an easy solution that lets you keep your existing window covers!
2. Bring In The Plants
Did you ever wake up from a muff and stifling room (What does “muff” mean?) only to find out that opening the window and a stream of fresh air is gift sent from heaven? We all know quality, non-polluted air is of vital importance to our health. Check out this 4-minute TED talk:
To optimize your house you need the following:
- 4x shoulder height of “The Living Room Plant” Areca Palm(Dypsis lutescens) per person.
- 6-8x waist height of “The Bedroom Plant” Mother-in-law’s Tongue(Sansevieria trifasciata) per person.
- 6x medium-sized of “The Specialist Plant” Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum) per person.
Make sure to put the Mother-in-law’s Tongue in your bedroom since it actually releases oxygen at night.
You can find alternatives for these plants in this list here.
3. Clean Up The Electronics
You want to use your bedroom only for sleep and relaxing entertainment (journaling, reading and sex). Electronics like laptops and televisions spread too much blue light and will keep you awake. So it is a good idea to not use these at least an hour before you go to bed. (if you necessarily have to work while it is already dark outside then make at least sure you have f.lux installed – free download here) You also want to associate your bedroom with calmness and relaxation. Thus it is of vital importance to do away with everything that you associate with stress, like a tablet or phone. You don’t want yourself be reminded about things you have to do or upcoming events you can worry about. The moment you step into your bedroom you should allow yourself to feel safe and secure. So make sure your bedroom is only for rest – nothing else.
4. Silence Is Golden
Screaming neighbours, honking cars, barking bastards. We’ve all been there, wanting to kill something that woke us up. This instinct has preserved our species over millions of years. Yet in our modern world it is often just a cause of irritation – and a lack of sleep. A very easy fix is to get good quality earplugs – ones that you don’t feel you are wearing.
(another way to reduce the impact of sound is to actually add noise. Sleeping with white noise, cricket or bird sounds in the background reduces the contrast hard noises from outside, thus improving your sleep.)
5. Bring Back The Light
Most people I know use a normal alarm clock to wake them up in the morning. When the curtains are still closed and they are still residing in deep sleep when it goes off it causes an immediate stress response as their first experience of the day. We are not night creatures. The night frightens us; we can’t see, we’re tired and just want to cuddle with others in our safe net. When we get abruptly awakened in the dark, our body senses something must be up. In contrast, we naturally wake up with the rising sun. The red color of the morning sun slowly brings us out of deeper sleep cycles and gently wakes us up. I always felt out of sync for hours after being awakened by an alarm clock. After the realization I had to get out of bed whilst still dark, I just wanted to close my eyes and go back to sleep. Often a disappointing start of the day.
I am so happy this is over. I found a gadget called the Wake Up Light and it is the best thing I’ve bought in long time. It simulates a colored sunrise – going from red to white light in 20-40 minutes. After this it starts the radio or a soundtrack with birds or other relaxing music. Often I wake up without my standard brain fog before that however, and I enjoy the couple of minutes I can still lie in bed. It is such an improvement over my old routine – of being cranky and needing coffee. Now I am immediately awake and ready to start my day.
What do you do to get a night full of sleep?
5 Easy Ways To Upgrade Your Bedroom and Better Your Sleep | Martijn Schirp
Featured photo credit: abandoned bed 14/zapota via secure.flickr.com
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