More than one-third of Americans do not get enough sleep, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and another third get poor or interrupted sleep. Lack of sleep is epidemic, and it comes with some pretty dire consequences—an increased risk of disease, danger of nodding off while driving, reduced cognitive function and decreased overall health. There is a strong environmental component to a getting a good night’s sleep, and we’ll show you how to set up a room designed for rest.
How to Improve Sleep Quality
Keep It Cool
Summer’s high temps can kill a good night’s sleep. Most experts recommend you keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and the National Sleep Foundation recommends you take measures to keep things cool (and anyone who has tossed and turned in a heat wave would agree). To keep heat out during the day, draw the shades or blinds. Solar shades enable you to block out the warm UV rays while still giving you some natural light. Use sheets and bedding made from a light material that breathes easily—cotton works well—and then just add a comforter as you need it.
Your insulin levels can affect your sleep patterns, and research reported by the American Thoracic Society shows that glucose intolerance is associated with sleep disorders. As you rest, your body metabolizes food and stored fat in your body. Your blood sugar levels fluctuate naturally, but if they drop too low while you’re trying to fall asleep or sleeping, it can stop you from getting good rest. To counter this, have a small protein-rich snack before bedtime. A spoonful of peanut butter or a handful of nuts will often be enough to regulate your blood sugar through the night.
Get Zen About It
A calm and relaxed mind is vital to good sleep. Counting sheep only works when the sheep are not reminding you of bills, schedules and to-do lists. Design your room to be a peaceful place, and don’t allow anything chaotic into the room. Creating a room that is relaxed and conducive to sleep takes mindfulness. Place a small rug or a colored cord at the threshold of the room, then tell yourself that the stresses of the day cannot cross into your bedroom. Pair that with a relaxing bath to get the best sleep.
Know Your Cycles
Ignore the clock and throw away the night light. Your body goes through overlapping cycles throughout the year, the day, and night. Extra light and clocks in the room only serve to remind you that you are out of sync with these cycles. Part of the rationale behind relaxing in a cool, dark room is to fool your body into thinking that it is time to sleep. Even if your natural sleep cycle is off, these suggestions can convince your body that it should be sleeping and ease it back into a normal cycle.