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Five tips for a healthy sleep environment

Paoli Hospital March 6, 2015 General Wellness

You’ve probably put some time and money into freshening up the paint color on your front door, purchasing new furniture for the living room, or shopping for a new kitchen table. After all, you want an inviting place to come home to every day. But when was the last time you gave your bedroom a makeover?

“Many people don’t think about the impact that the color of their walls or their lighting has on sleep quality. In fact, your sleep environment does have an impact on your sleep,” says Rochelle Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Paoli Hospital.

It can be easy for your bedroom to become a common area for plenty of activities like folding laundry or late-night work sessions but if you’re struggling with poor quality sleep, it might be time for a makeover. Below, Dr. Goldberg explores what to consider in creating a positive sleep environment.

Play it cool

You might catch yourself nodding off when you’re wrapped up in a blanket or in front of a warm fireplace, but cooler environments are actually more conducive to sleep.

“Your body temperature rises and falls during the day, and this fluctuation is tied to your sleep cycle. In the evening, as you gradually become more tired, your body temperature decreases, which allows you to fall asleep more easily,” says Dr. Goldberg.

Keeping your room on the cooler side can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Of course, keeping your room too cold can be distracting and keep you from sleep. Find a comfortable temperature for you, typically between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make it comfortable

When was the last time you purchased a new mattress or pillow? Sleeping can be uncomfortable if you don’t have the right equipment. It could be time to search for new bedding if:

  • Your mattress is worn or sagging in the middle or around the edges.
  • You’ve had your mattress for more than eight years.
  • You wake up feeling tired, achy or stiff in the morning.
  • You can feel your partner’s every move at night. The right mattress shouldn’t wake you up with every movement.
  • The stuffing of your pillow feels uneven, or they are lumpy or saggy.
  • Your pillow does not comfortably support your head and neck.

If any of these apply to you, or if you’re simply uncomfortable, it might be time to search for some new bedding.

Keep calm and sleep on

To get the best night’s sleep, think of your bedroom as an in-house spa.

“Your bedroom should incorporate scents, colors, lighting, and sounds that will soothe you,” says Dr. Goldberg. “All of these elements contribute to a better night’s sleep and a better quality of sleep.”

You might not be able to repaint your bedroom or make it an off-limits area for clutter, but try making small changes like listening to a soothing music playlist or sound machine before bed, and placing a scented oil or candle in your room. Small changes like this could mean more sleep for you.

Dim the lights

Dimmed lighting is another important factor in creating an environment that’s conducive to sleep. Bright overhead lighting might be helpful when you’re trying to track down a missing sneaker hiding under your bed, but it’s not very helpful when it comes to sleep.

Opt for lamps with soft, yellow light that you can place throughout your room- on your dresser, night stand, or window, to create dimmer lighting throughout the room. If that’s not an option, look into installing a dimmer to control overhead lighting.

Put down the phone

You’ve probably heard it before, but blue light emitted from phones, tablets, laptops and television can all interfere with your sleep, even if you don’t realize it.

“Using electronic devices before going to bed makes it more difficult to fall asleep and also means less rapid-eye movement, or REM, sleep, which is the type of sleep that allows us to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning,” explains Dr. Goldberg.

Say goodnight to your electronic devices at least 20 minutes before turning in at night, and opt for a soothing before-bed routine like reading a book, meditating, or talking with your partner. Although it might be hard to tune out for good every night of the week, aim to stay away from electronics on most nights.

Still struggling to get a good night's sleep? Talk to your physician or a sleep medicine specialist, who may be able to offer you additional suggestions or treatment options. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.