Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Are you having problems falling asleep at night? If so, then there are several possible causes, including your sleep environment. I’ve found that making some tweaks like adjusting the light, sound and temperature, in addition to learning how you pick your mattress, can help.
These sleep schedule issues are “sleep hygiene” issues that are also related to the physical environment you create at bedtime. It’s important to create an optimized environment that can give you the best chance to doze off then get a full night’s sleep.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
While sleep hygiene isn’t entirely related to the sleep environment, it partly defines the term. Following a certain sleep schedule and taking certain actions at bedtime and during the day can all affect sleep hygiene.
Having a good sleep environment is one of the key elements of sleep hygiene. It’s also important to make sure you’re following a daily bedtime schedule, so your body’s biorhythms (internal clock) knows when it’s bedtime. It’s also wise to have healthy sleep habits.
Sleep Hygiene Redefined
There’s no magic formula for creating sleep hygiene. It’s important to make tweaks here and there, so it’s ideal for your particular body/mind. This can all help you to get a good night’s sleep so you can wake up feeling rested.
Sleep Problem Fix
It might be surprising, but many sleep disorders like insomnia are often due to bad sleep habits that people have had for years or decades. When the problems aren’t addressed, this can cause serious sleep hygiene issues over time.
In some situations, people can make changes to their sleep habits that can, in turn, cause improvements in sleep quality.
The solutions to sleep hygiene issues are based on the main cause(s) of sleep problems. If you’ve been practicing bad sleep hygiene for decades, for example, it will likely take longer to undo the bad habits. You’ll need to change your sleep schedule/environment and possibly attitude.
The Importance of a Sleep Environment
This refers to the space that you try to sleep in. We usually sleep in our bedrooms, although sometimes we also sleep in the living room, rec room, or even a camping tent. Regardless of whether you’re in your bedroom or a hotel room, it’s important to focus on creating the best sleep environment.
There’s no universal agreement about what makes a good sleep environment. This can result in disagreements even among bed partners. In most cases, you can make some tweaks to the sleep environment to improve your sleep quality. Here are some key issues:
Based on past studies, the ideal temperature seems to be about 65°F (185°C). This figure is somewhat lower than room temperature but accounts for higher body temperatures during sleep.
There are different factors, like mattress size and firmness. It should also be comfy, breathable, and supportive.
A quiet environment usually makes it easier to snooze. That’s true whether you’re in the city, suburbs, or countryside. Such external “stimuli” like radios blasting can be a jolt and wake us up in the middle of the night.
Try to minimize lighting and use soft lighting like a nightlight or ambient lighting. Avoid harsh lights in particular.
Tips for Creating a Better Sleep Environment
You can use items like heavy curtains to help darken the room. When it becomes dark outdoors, this is a sign that it’s time for your body to shut down. However, if there’s too much light in your bedroom, your mind/body can get confused, which can prevent a good night’s sleep.
Use Warm colors
This can include wall paint, wallpaper, wall décor, and so on. Some good options include:
These are some calming colors that can help you relax before sleeping.
This can help like sleep resources to help you get more shut-eye. While it won’t affect your sleeping per se, it can help to relax your mind at bedtime. A clean/tidy room can help your mind wind down, so you’re ready for sleep mode.
It doesn’t matter if it’s down the hall or down the street. Loud noises can prevent you from dozing off, which can affect your sleep quality. While you can’t prevent all loud sounds, you can do your best to soundproof your room.
Keep the room Cool
This is something you should do even if it’s not the middle of summer. Keep the room a little under room temperature to provide the best results. If you have certain health conditions that trigger night sweats, this is especially important.
Tips for the Bedtime Schedule
Use a Sound Machine
While you should avoid loud noises while sleeping, a sound machine can provide soft sounds that can help you doze off. You can also go with relaxing music to help you catch Z’s.
Use Essential Oils Diffuser
Studies show that certain natural oils like lavender can help people calm down and fall asleep faster. You just need a few drops of the concentrated oil to help fill the room with a relaxing scent.
Unplug before Bedtime
This should be at least one hour before you turn in for the night. The reason is the bright LED/LCD lights can stimulate your body, which can prevent you from falling asleep. Make sure to switch off all electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs/Macs 1+ hours before bedtime.
Tips for Daytime Activities
Don’t Nap too Much
It’s recommended people nap up to 20 minutes during the day. This can provide a power nap while not disturbing your night sleep cycles.
Minimize caffeine in the Afternoon
In general, you should avoid caffeine up to 8 hours before bedtime since it can affect your ability to fall asleep. In addition, sleep resources often suggest avoiding alcohol after dinnertime.
Reconsider Bedroom’s Main Function
As the name suggests, it’s the bed’s room. The main function of the bedroom should be to get shut-eye. You can use it to read, watch TV, and eat snacks—but the top function should be the place where you sleep most nights.
Find the Best Mattresses
Make sure when you pick your mattress, it has a good firmness/softness ratio. The mattress should provide enough support but not be overly rigid. It’s also critical to change your mattress every decade or so since both foam and latex tend to wear out over time.
Making some tweaks to your sleep schedule or sleeping environment can make a world of difference.