Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Creating a Good Sleep Environment

We all know that getting a good night's sleep is good for us (I'll post why another time) and we all know how good we feel after getting a night of great sleep, yet many of us are unable to get the sleep we desire. Often, it is due to us trying to cram too much into the day, but sometimes we just are unable to get the quality of sleep we desire. Here are some tips to help ensure a better quality of sleep.

- Keep the bedroom as a place of rest. This means no tv, no phones, and no computers in the bedroom. It also means no fighting, arguing, or serious discussions in the bedroom. In fact the only activities that should happen in the bedroom are sleep and, um, well you know, the "other" thing you do in bed. Our brains and bodies can become conditioned to expect these other activities will occur, preventing us from falling into a deep sleep. When we re-condition ourselves to expect just sleep in the bedroom, it is much easier for us to get the sleep we need.

- Find the temperature that works for you. If you are often kicking the covers off during the night, try lowering the temperature or using a fan on your side of the bed. If you find yourself often waking up cold during the night, turn up the temperature or add a blanket to your side of the bed.

- Make sure your mattress is comfortable. If necessary, and possible, replace it. If you and your spouse have different mattress "styles", consider investing in a split-style mattress. If you are not comfortable, you will have trouble sleeping well.

- Limit the amount of light in the room. Use room darkening shades/curtains to limit outside lights from shining in. Turn you alarm clock away from the bed or cover the time. This actually has a double purpose, as looking at the time can cause anxiety which can cause problems falling asleep. You can also consider using a sleep mask, though I tend to find they come off during the night. Also, avoid bright lights before bed. The body is conditioned to sleep when it is dark, so the less exposure to light, the easier it is to fall asleep.

- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Again, this relates to conditioning the body to expect sleep at certain times.

- Reduce the noise level in the bedroom. If you live in an area with a lot of outside noise, consider a fan or white noise machine to drown them out. If you have a spouse who snores or talks in their sleep, consider ear plugs. While I personally dislike using them, they do work wonders.

- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and will keep you awake. Smokers also experience withdrawal symptoms once they do fall asleep. These withdrawal symptoms will keep them from getting a deep sleep. Yet another reason to quit. Alcohol also disrupts sleep.

- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid anything that makes loud noises or has bright lights. Also, avoid anything that stimulates the brain, such as word puzzles or games. Avoid exercising too late in the evening as well. Warm showers/baths, journal writing, and reading can all help relax you.

I know I am guilty of taking my laptop to bed with me and after researching this topic, I am able to pinpoint several other areas where I can improve my sleep. Obviously, there are seasons in our lives where we cannot get a full night's sleep regardless of what we do. However, we owe it to ourselves to do what we can to make the most of the sleep we do get. What are some things you do to help you sleep?

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtfull post on wellness. It should be very much helpfull

    Karim - Creating Power