Are you getting a good night’s sleep?
Are you waking refreshed?
In National Bed Month, we’re reminded that a good night’s sleep is important.
Let’s consider how our surroundings and daily routine can affect our sleep and well-being.
Sleep Hygiene & Routines
Sleep hygiene is a strange term, conjuring up images of less-than-salubrious surroundings and cleanliness.
It actually refers to your bedtime routine, which actually starts when you get up!
- Mornings – Your morning routine is surprisingly important to your sleep. Making sure that you experience natural daylight as soon as possible helps your body’s inner body clock to understand that it is morning.
- Daytimes – Regular exercise and good nutrition ensure a good foundation, but fresh air and ventilation throughout the day is also important. Being in or near nature calms the soul and allows you to breathe properly. Even a gentle stroll round the block at lunchtime helps you keep active whilst absorbing vitamin D and full spectrum sunlight. It can also aid digestion and help you feel tired at bedtime, both of which will help you sleep. If you can’t walk in nature, then a garden view or houseplants can benefit your wellbeing.
- Evenings – These are simple steps that you can build into your daily and weekly routine. But is there anything that you can look at closer to home? Of course! Let’s start with your evening routine. As we mentioned earlier, it’s hard to sleep on a full stomach, so eating earlier will give your body time to digest properly.
Phones, tablets and laptops all produce a blue light that blocks melatonin production.
Melatonin is the hormone our body produces to help us sleep, therefore there you’ll benefit from turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime.
Curiously the TV screen doesn’t impact this as much, due to the different screen light so this isn’t as much of an issue. (Phew! )
The lighting of the space where you spend your evening can also help or hinder bedtime.
Cool (blue) white lights are great for task lighting, whereas warm (yellow) white is better for evening spaces as they better emulate the setting sun and natural evening light.
Natural daylight simulation bulbs in directional lamps are best for reading or tasks.
I personally prefer a combo of table and floor lamps in the evening, rather than the main light which can feel quite harsh.
Thermal comfort is another important aspect.
Warm, tactile textures create a cosy feel, (especially once the heating has been turned off or the summer sun has gone down), cosseting you ready for bed.
Using an aromatherapy diffuser with lavender half an hour or so before bedtime also helps to soothe and relax, preparing your body for sleep.
So the kids are in bed, you’ve put down your phone, and cosied up with some calming aromatherapy and mood lighting.
You’re all relaxed and now it’s time for bed.
You climb the stairs, and do your ablutions (natural products enhance the relaxing experience and provide beautiful aromas and sensations to send you on your way).
You then enter the bedroom…
This is then the part where you waft effortlessly into your spa-like retreat and sleep like a princess. Or is it?
There are several ways in which you can block all your efforts, so here are some things to consider…
- Clutter – you don’t want any here. Not around you or under the bed (we’ll cover this in a separate blog!)
- Furniture – you need a bed and wardrobe and (unless you are a real princess) not much else is needed (or will fit)
- Orientation – if you struggle to get up in the morning then an East facing bedroom would be ideal
- Lighting – no harsh lighting here. Blackout blinds are best if you have lights outside your window, otherwise natural flowing drapes will work best. Light alarm clocks can be used in the winter if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Smells and noise – should both be pleasant or non-existent.
- Thermal comfort and ventilation – try to have a window open in your room when you sleep – even if it’s just a crack. This can not only cleanse the room of germs and smells during the night but allows you to engage with nature or your surroundings in the morning, in terms of noise and temperature, helping you rise and acclimatise.
- Electrical stuff – you don’t need or want this in your bedroom. Try to use battery operated alarm clocks if possible and remove the rest. Turn off your WiFi overnight and unplug anything charging as this can also affect your sleep patterns. More to follow in a later blog as to why. Just so much to tell you!
- Materials – natural is best in general, but particularly for bedrooms where we spend so much of our lives. Chemicals in synthetic materials such as carpets, curtains and furnishings can off-gas (again this is a whole other blog) which isn’t great for us humans. Headaches can be the least worrying symptom! Think natural fibres to sleep in and on too. If budget permits, silk pillowcases are definitely the way to go – instant Princess effect and life changing!! PS. Silk PJs are also worth the hype, although linen and 100% cotton are equally luxurious and well worth the investment. PPS. The jury’s out with regards to the environmental effect of bamboo fabric manufacture, but it’s not looking good.
There is hope!
It seems like a lot to think about, and it is.
If you’re struggling to sleep or waking up feeling like you need a good night’s sleep, then hopefully you’ll see there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Just making a few changes to your routines and environment can make a massive difference to your sleep and therefore your day.
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