Improve Your Sleep Environment for a Better Quality Rest
The quality of your sleep is vital to your health and well-being. Science shows that people who experience better quality sleep live happier, healthier lives. Quality sleep helps improve cognitive function, cardiovascular health and personal performance. Not getting enough sleep can be a serious risk to your overall health. According to the CDC, one-third of adult Americans aren’t getting enough sleep regularly — primarily due to lifestyle factors.
To ensure better sleep quality, it’s essential to have a sleep environment that’s conducive to deeper comfort and relaxation. Practicing good sleep hygiene and investing in high-quality sleep and bedding products can also improve your quality of sleep.
4 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Environment
A good sleep environment is one that promotes better quality rest. Turning your bedroom into a sanctuary for relaxation is easy when you understand what factors determine how well you sleep.
The ideal sleep environment should hit four key qualities: cool, dark, quiet and relaxing.
Maximize the comfort of your sleep environment by ensuring your bedroom meets the following four criteria:
Cool sleep environments make it easier for the body to relax. Most people can drift into a deeper sleep when their bedroom is not too hot and not too cold. Set your thermostat to anywhere between 65° and 72° Fahrenheit — this range is considered optimal room temperature to keep your body cool and prevent overheating.
When your body temperature rises, it activates your natural awakened state and brings you out of deep sleep. If you’re too hot, you may not be able to fall back asleep right away. If you tend to get too warm at night, be sure to wear light pajamas and avoid heavy sleepwear. Sleeping on linens made of natural, breathable fibers, like cotton or bamboo, can also help regulate your body temperature. Avoid synthetic materials, like polyester, that retain moisture and heat.
To promote even better sleep quality, make sure that your room is well ventilated. Open a window or turn on a fan at a low setting. Having fresh, circulating air will help you to feel more refreshed when you wake up.
Biologically, humans are wired to be awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark. Different hormones activate depending on what time of day it is. When your room is dark, your body is triggered to release the sleep hormone, melatonin, which allows you to fall into a deeper sleep for longer. On the other hand, when there are sources of light, your body switches to an awake state, causing the release of cortisol — a stress hormone necessary to take on the day.
To promote deeper, longer sleep at night and encourage the release of melatonin, your bedroom should be as dark as possible to prevent the distraction of glowing lights. This means it’s important not to go to bed with a lamp, nightlight or hallway light on. Electronics can also emit light that’s bright enough to interrupt your sleep. Devices emit a blue wavelength light, which stimulates your brain activity more than any other type of light. To get a deeper sleep, make sure you remove all electronics from your bedroom, turn them off or cover them before bed.
To maintain a dark room, you’ll also need to address any sources of outside light that may be penetrating your room. The most distracting sources of exterior light are street lamps and motion sensor lights. Depending on your sleep schedule and location, sunlight may also enter your room either until late at night or early in the morning. You can stop these external sources of light with two options — either use a sleep mask to cover your eyes or install heavy blackout curtains or shades.
Our brains tend to respond to noise and become distracted by it no matter what. Random noises, no matter how loud they are, can make it difficult to fall asleep or even disrupt your sleep and cause you to wake up during the night. To fall asleep and stay asleep, your sleep environment should be as quiet as possible to prevent interruptions.
Common causes of noise distraction in the night are electronic buzzing, traffic noise, sounds from pets or other people in the home, or your partner snoring. All of these sounds can be mitigated, muffled or silenced to ensure you get the deepest and most restful sleep possible. Some sounds you simply can’t control. For any sounds coming from outside your bedroom or caused by other people, try using a “white noise” app to block out unwanted noise. You can also use a fan, which not only keeps your room fresh, but it also provides consistent and soft background noise.
Soundproof foam products are also an option to dampen noise. These are available at music and acoustic stores. You can place these sound solutions on your window sill to help block out street noise. Similarly, rugs, curtains and other fabrics also act as sound dampeners if exterior noise is an issue. Many people these days choose to sleep with earplugs or specialty headphones designed for sleep.
If sound is coming from your snoring partner, discuss an arrangement that allows you both to get the sleep you need. Consider using a pillow that helps prevent snoring such as the ContourSide Pillow.
Your sleep environment should be a relaxing sanctuary that’s stress-free. The more your body can fall into a deep state of relaxation before bed, the better your sleep quality will be throughout the night.
There are several ways to design a sleep oasis for better rest. These will depend on your personal preferences and what you feel will help you relax most comfortably. Some ideas for creating a relaxing sleep environment include:
- Light and calming colors
- Soft and comfortable bedding
- Gentle and peaceful music
- Soothing aromatherapy scents like lavender or peppermint
To keep your sleep environment as relaxing as possible, remove all work material from your bedroom. Stressful activities, whether physical or psychological, can cause the body to excrete cortisol, causing increased alertness. Laptops, smartphones, TVs or tablets should be powered down and put away outside of the bedroom.
7 Tips for Getting a Better Sleep
If you have insomnia or sometimes have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, it could be due to other factors besides your sleep environment.
“Sleep hygiene” refers to a set of practices or habits you can develop to ensure you improve your sleep quality as much as possible. Poor sleep hygiene consists of any bad habits or behaviors throughout the day that may prevent you from having a good night sleep, including:
- Disruptive or sporadic sleeping patterns
- Experiencing emotional stress during the day and before bed
- Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco use
- Lack of exercise and poor diet
Studies show that conscious shifts in daily wellness routines can improve sleep quality in people who struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or maintain consistent sleep patterns. If you’re not getting the proper rest you need consistently, it could be due to some negative habits that prevent you from achieving a deep, relaxed state.
Here are some ideas for improving your sleep hygiene throughout the day and before bed:
- Look away from the clock: If you wake up during the night and can’t fall back asleep, avoid continuously checking the time. Face your clock away from you to stop the temptation of calculating the amount of sleep you can get if you fall asleep at that moment. Reminding yourself of the current time will only cause more anxiety, keeping you up even longer.
- Wind down before bed: Our bodies need time to relax and wind down after the day’s stressors. Take some time to yourself to read a book or perform light exercises, such as yoga. Taking a warm bath or shower before bed can also help you wind down. Stepping into a cool room after being warm helps decrease body temperatures, triggering a tranquil, drowsy feeling.
- Relax your entire body: Relaxation techniques, like meditation, are a great tool to help you fall asleep. Slowly and consciously release tension from each part of your body. While taking deep breaths, start at your feet, then each leg, your torso, each arm, and lastly your head, neck and shoulders. By concentrating on specific parts of your body and working with your breathing, you can relieve stress and sink into a deeper relaxation to help ease you into a restful night’s sleep.
- Stretch and exercise the neck before bed: Strengthening your neck with light exercises can help prevent pain through the night. Gentle stretching movements in the neck and shoulders can encourage you to fall into a deeper sleep so you can wake up feeling better.
- Stop using electronics an hour before bed: Using devices before bed is too stimulating and can delay your slumber and throw off your circadian rhythm (your internal clock). The National Sleep Foundation recommends a “digital curfew” to follow. Every night at the same time, stop using all devices. Put them away and begin your bedtime routine to start winding down. Your digital curfew should be set 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep.
- Establish consistent sleep and wake routines: Sticking to a regular routine, even on the weekends, helps the body unwind and wake up naturally. By going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each night, your body will develop its own routine, and you’ll be more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you do wake up in the night, get up and leave the bedroom if you haven’t fallen back asleep after 20 minutes. Make a cup of tea, read a book or listen to relaxing music. Once you begin to get drowsy, go back to bed.
- Maintain good diet and exercise habits: Diet and exercise are both contributors to your sleep quality. Avoid heavy or large meals 2-3 hours before bedtime. Feeling full can cause discomfort and indigestion, keeping you awake. Be sure to limit alcohol and caffeine intake as well. With exercise, experts suggest that 30 minutes of moderate exercise can help improve your sleep that night. Be sure to end workouts at least 2 hours before bed to prevent being overstimulated.
Invest in Quality Sleep Products
In addition to enhancing your sleep environment and practicing better sleep hygiene, it’s also important to invest in high-quality sleep products. The type of sleep products you use can determine how well-rested you feel in the morning. Sleep products like mattresses and pillows designed for your unique needs can ensure you are comfortable and well-supported throughout the night.
Relax The Back is your local expert on all things sleep quality. We offer a range of sleep products for a better night’s rest. From mattresses and frames to pillows and toppers, Relax The Back can help you get a better sleep every night.
Here are some of our top products designed for a more comfortable and relaxing sleep:
- Technogel® Mattresses: A good mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. Technogel® mattresses use foam-hybrid materials to conform to your body’s natural shape, allowing you to relax deeply by relieving painful pressure points. Their gel material also promotes greater breathability, offering thermal regulation for a cooler, more comfortable sleep.
- TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow: To help keep your body temperature cool and calm throughout the night, try this cooling pillow with TEMPUR material designed to dissipate body heat. Conforming TEMPUR material also keeps your head, neck and shoulders supported during the night to prevent neck pain and relieve pressure points.
- PureRelax Zoned Gel Mattress Topper: Mattress toppers help enhance your sleep experience by offering a more comfortable and supportive surface. The PureRelax Zone Gel mattress topper from Relax The Back combines gel technology and memory foam for a supportive, pain-free sleep. This mattress topper’s gel therapy also keeps you cool throughout the night, helping to wake up feeling refreshed.
Visit your local Relax The Back location to speak with a trained specialist regarding your specific sleep needs. From fitting you for a perfect pillow to showing you different mattress styles to offering tips and information on ways you can sleep easier, our specialists are there to provide one-on-one support. Find a local store near you today or browse our sleep collection online.