Regardless if you can sleep anywhere or need the ideal setup to snooze, the truth is, to get restorative sleep, it’s essential to have a good sleep environment. So, whether you’re struggling to sleep well and need any help you can get, or you’re just trying to tweak your sleep hygiene, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s talk about the different things you can do to create a good sleep environment to help you wake up feeling rested and alert.
Is a Good Sleep Environment Worth It?
Yes, it is crucial to focus on your sleep environment, ensuring it is comforting, calming, and peaceful. You’ll spend about one-third of your time in bed throughout your lifetime.
Since sleep makes up such a large percentage of our days and is crucial to our health and mental well-being, it is worth optimizing our sleep environment for good sleep, even if it can be costly.
Aspects of a Favorable Sleep Environment
The article on sleep hygiene tips mentioned that the best temperature for sleeping is about 65°F (18°C), give or take a couple of degrees in either direction. For most sleepers, a range of 60 - 71.6°F is suitable.
Yes, this may sound chilly for some people, but the cooler thermostat helps keep your core temperature lower while you sleep. When your body temperature is slightly lower, it produces melatonin, promoting sleep. Your body will naturally warm back up before you wake, and melatonin production decreases.
For people sleeping alone, it’s easy to establish and maintain your preferred temperature. But if you’re sleeping with a partner, there’s a chance the two of you will differ on the perfect sleep temp. If that’s the case, it’s easiest to go with the cooler temperature. You can always layer an extra blanket or two on the size of the partner who prefers it warmer.
Keep it Dark
Since we’ve already discussed how light significantly disrupts sleep and blue light keeps you from falling asleep, this recommendation shouldn’t surprise you. Ideally, you want your bedroom to be as dark as possible at night to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
Depending on how dark you like it, there are different ways to create a more conducive sleeping environment. If you want it pitch black, you can purchase heavy blackout curtains or use a sleep mask to block light. You can pin the drapes closed with clips or clothespins to keep light from creeping between the curtains.
If you have curtains you love and don’t want to switch them out for blackout drapes that may not be as nice, you can make them a better fit for your room. If you are handy and have a sewing machine, you can buy blackout fabric and create your own liners, tacking them on the inside of your beloved curtains.
People prone to waking up and needing to use the bathroom at night can install a nightlight with a switch that can quickly turn on when they need to get up and move.
Make it Quiet
Another critical component of a good sleep environment is to create a quiet space. While you may not notice them, loud noise disturbances may cause severe sleep fragmentation and disruption. These noises can unknowingly wake you slightly, harming your physical and mental health.
Some research even suggests it isn’t only loud noises that are disruptive. Even low-level noise can cause you to wake up momentarily or shift to a lighter sleep stage.
One of the most effective ways to reduce noise is strategically placing items in the bedroom that absorb sound. Soft pieces like rugs and heavy curtains can help dampen noise. Arrange heavy furniture like bookshelves against shared walls to absorb sound, or place plants between your bed and the window or shared walls.
If you live in an urban setting or are an apartment dweller with upstairs neighbors, it may be worth trying to sleep with earplugs to block distractions. You can also cover the disruptive sounds with white noise or a playlist of calming music.
Purchase a Suitable Mattress
Having a good, supportive mattress to sleep on will go a long way toward getting a good night’s sleep.
You want a mattress with a mix of firmness for support to prevent low back pain and a layer of softness on top for comfort and breathability. The best mattress depends on factors like normal sleep position, body weight, and if you prefer to lie on a firm or hard service.
Some people like the springy feel of a traditional mattress with coils. Some like how memory foam closely hugs their body, and others prefer the gentle support of a latex foundation. If you’re unsure what would work best, your local mattress store may offer body mapping. This service helps determine pressure points based on how you lay to suggest the best mattress.
It’s also essential to replace your mattress every ten years or so. Some research studies have proven a new bed will promote higher sleep quality and alleviate more aches and pains than an older, worn-out mattress.
High-Quality Bedding and Pillows
After finding the best mattress, you should spend the money and buy as high-quality bedding and pillows as you can afford. These bedding items are also linked to personal preference and how warm you sleep at night. You should also choose your bedding based on individual criteria.
When at sheets, you’ll be inundated with choices: thread counts, fabric materials, and different weaves. All of these factors contribute to the softness and warmth of the sheets, so choosing the ideal set depends on how you sleep. Plus, do you prefer something with a silky hand feel, or do you like crisp cotton?
Look into materials like linen, cotton, or even bamboo sheets if you wake up drenched in sweat as though you’ve been sleeping in a sauna. These breathable fabrics have temperature-regulating properties. They trap less heat and are known to help “hot” sleepers sleep better.
If you’re the type that often wakes up shivering, regardless of how many layers you wear, consider looking at fleece, jersey, or even silk bedding.
When selecting the best pillow, consider its firmness, loft (i.e., thickness), and durability. Stomach sleepers typically prefer thin pillows, and side sleepers favor a loftier pillow to support their neck. Back sleepers often find pillows with medium support work the best.
People with allergies or asthma may benefit from hypoallergenic covers that protect them from harmful irritants inside the pillow when sleeping.
Keep Your Bed Sanitary
Along with fitting your bed with quality linens, you want to keep them clean and sanitary too. At a minimum, it’s recommended by experts to wash your sheets at least every other week. Weekly laundering is beneficial if your pet sleeps with you or you sweat excessively at night.
Washing your bedding regularly prevents body oils and dust mites from accumulating, helping to minimize breakouts and irritation. But it also helps promote better sleep in most people. A 2012 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that most people are more excited to go to bed when the sheets are clean and smell fresh.
Bring in Soothing Scents
Filling your bedroom with soothing fragrances can help you feel more relaxed, so you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep better. You can use oil diffusers, wax warmers, or room sprays to bring in your favorite smells.
Lavender essential oil improves sleep quality because of its calming properties, so you’ll wake up feeling more rested and refreshed. Peppermint and heliotrope may accomplish similar results.
People who share a bed with a partner may sleep better when in bed with them because of their unique scent.
Limit Activities In Your Bedroom
To round out the tips for creating a good sleep environment, remember that your bed and bedroom space should be relaxing and calming. It shouldn’t be a source of stress or stimulation.
The general guidelines for good sleep recommend your bed should be used only for sleeping and intimate activities. You shouldn’t be lying in bed working on your laptop, playing your gaming system, or scrolling social media on your phone.
These electronics are best removed from your sleep environment entirely. Their blue light emissions can keep you from falling asleep and may become disruptive through the night.