At first glance, you may not recognize the impact your bedroom environment has on the quality of your night-time sleep. There are several physical factors in your bedroom that can make or break your ability to gain the maximum benefit from sleep. In order to maintain proper sleep hygiene, it is essential to prepare your bedroom to be a sleep-inducing environment.
There are several physical factors in your bedroom that you can adjust to promote adequate sleep. These factors include the darkness of your bedroom at night, exposure to light in the morning, electronic equipment, temperature, and noise.
Light and darkness are strong cues to tell your body that it is time for a productive day or a restful sleep. A 2010 study by the Harvard Medical School found that using artificial light after dark signals to the brain that it is time to wake up, subsequently suppressing the release of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleepiness. The University of Chicago completed a study in 2000 that found that morning exposure to bright light resulted in instantaneous inhibition of melatonin secretion and a robust release of cortisol, promoting alertness. Allowing natural sunlight into the bedroom early in the morning can cause your brain to become alert and want to rise before you are ready.
- Consider using low-wattage lamps at your bedside table to minimize wakefulness in the brain. Nightlights should be used if using the bathroom at night, in order to prevent overexposure to light and subsequent wakefulness.
- Open blinds to allow natural sunlight into the room as soon as you wake up. This will help your brain to adjust and help set your biological clock to be accepting of your wake up time.
- Fully cover all windows before going to sleep to prevent sunlight from coming into the room at an inappropriate time.
A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation reported that 95% of people used a computer, video game, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within an hour before going to bed. This statistic can be seen as problematic as scientists are discovering that electronics could disturb sleep by sending alerting signals to the brain. Scientists at the University of Basel in Switzerland formed a study in 2011 that assessed light exposure’s impact on sleep before bedtime. They found that your body’s biological clock is especially sensitive to short wavelengths of blue light, which is emitted from electronics, such as cell phones and computers, and this subsequently delays the release of melatonin.
- Consider taking electronics out of the bedroom or simply turning them off at least an hour before bedtime to avoid using them.
- Chose to read a book or magazine instead to allow your body to settle down naturally
Bedroom noise can be a huge disruption to your sleep. The University of Memphis completed a study in 2009 that showed that poor sleeping habits were associated with excessive bedroom noise and uncomfortable sleep temperatures.
- Quiet, dark, and cold environments are the most conducive for sleep.
- Create a silent environment by using ear plugs or white noise machines to lower noise if outside noise volume is a problem.
- Turn off any electronic devices that could create unwanted sounds in the middle of the night.
- Use heavy blinds or eye masks to eliminate all light.
- Set your room temperature to between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust the temperature to find the ideal number for you.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom if they become a consistent disruption at night.
Following these simple action steps can ensure that you make your bedroom more sleep-friendly. Ensuring that light and noise are kept to a minimum at night, exposure to natural light when you wake up, and removing electronic devices from the room are all necessary measures that should be taken to regulate your biological clock. Once you do so, you will be well on your way to more restful nights and more alert and energized days.
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Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:
Jefferson, C. D., Drake, C. L., Scofield, H. M., Myers, E., McClure, T., Roehrs, T., & Roth, T. (2005). Sleep hygiene practices in a population-based sample of insomniacs. Sleep, 28(5), 611-615.
Brown, F. C., Buboltz Jr, W. C., & Soper, B. (2002). Relationship of sleep hygiene awareness, sleep hygiene practices, and sleep quality in university students. Behavioral medicine, 28(1), 33-38.
Malone, S. K. (2011). Early to bed, early to rise? An exploration of adolescent sleep hygiene practices. The Journal of School Nursing, 27(5), 348-354.
Mastin, D. F., Bryson, J., & Corwyn, R. (2006). Assessment of sleep hygiene using the Sleep Hygiene Index. Journal of behavioral medicine, 29(3), 223-227.
LeBOURGEOIS, M. K., Giannotti, F., Cortesi, F., Wolfson, A., & Harsh, J. (2004). Sleep hygiene and sleep quality in Italian and American adolescents. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021(1), 352-354.