We spend about 1/3 of our life sleeping, meaning we stay as much or even more time in our bedrooms as we do anywhere else. Therefore, creating your ideal sleep environment has lasting benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing.
There are many things you can do to improve your sleeping space and to have a great start into your day. But have you ever thought of what you definitely should avoid if you’re looking for a peaceful night?
Following factors can keep yourself from a restful sleep.
Clutter in your bedroom
Your bedroom is the place where you can get the necessary sleep, but also a place where you can unwind, and therefore it has to be peaceful and comfortable.
Do you know that feeling when you are coming into your bedroom at night and find it cluttered with all the clothes and things you were just too busy to put away while getting ready in the morning? Instead of the “Welcome to my sanctuary”- coziness a messy bedroom awaits you; the thought of having to clean just before bedtime produces stress and won’t let you wind down which is crucial for finding a good night’s sleep.
To turn your bedroom into a peaceful space where you can unwind and de-stress from the strains of the day, you should get rid of all the things you do not need or love. Bedrooms filled with too much stuff will unlikely give you the required peacefulness for a long and deep rest.
Therefore, take a few hours to clean your bedroom. Remove all the things which have lost their purpose and now only gather dust. Just keep the items you are really using such as the book you are currently reading or the one pillow you love to snuggle with at night. Decluttering of unnecessary things means more room for things which make you happy. Store away your clothes, but arrange neatly the dress you are planning to wear the next day.
Not changing sheets
Do you know how often you should change your bed sheets? As a general rule of thumb, you should wash your sheets and other bedding once a week or at least every two weeks. Especially if you are sweating a lot, it is a good idea to change and wash your bedding once a week at the minimum.
The reason is that your sheets easily and quickly absorb oils from the skin, saliva, and sweat, turning it into a paradise for bacteria and germs. In the average bed, as many as 1.5 million microscopic mites are crawling around and feasting off the skin cells you shed while you sleep. If you are suffering from allergies and asthma, these dead skin cells in your bedding will most likely contribute to increased health problems.
Therefore regular laundering of your sheets is an absolute must. Make sure you read the care label on your pillows to wash it properly. Buying good quality sheets combined with the right care will ensure that you can use them for many years.
Not making your bed – or making your bed!
I know this sounds confusing, but there are two sides to making your bed in the morning. Let’s first look at why you should be making your bed in the morning:
You probably have heard it many times but making your bed in the morning means that you have accomplished the first task of the day. Starting the day with a sense of pride will make it easier for you to complete and succeed in all proceeding tasks.
Also if you don’t find the time to make your bed in the morning, a scruffy looking unmade bed awaits you in the evening which may make it unappealing to tuck in. Therefore, taking the extra minute in the morning to make your bed sounds like a good idea.
However, research has shown that making your bed right away after getting up may be actually bad for your health. Why is that? The reason is that by making your bed immediately, you increase the moisture in your bed. In combination with the warm, damp conditions created overnight this makes it an ideal breeding place for dust mites, the nasty creatures responsible for asthma and allergies.
Therefore, there is an argument for the lazy among us to wait a few hours before making your bed. Unmade beds trap less moisture which means fewer dust mites. Dust mites can’t survive in warm, dry conditions; they die from dehydration.
Too much light – or no light at all
To be able to fall asleep your body needs to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Since bright light inhibits the natural melatonin production, you should use only low, warm lighting in the evening to be able to wind down and darken your bedroom as much as possible for sleeping. Your body is programmed to sleep when it’s dark, and the production of melatonin is at its highest between 11 pm and 3 am. Although it depends on the individual sensitivity level, for some people, even the slightest ray of (artificial) light can lead to interruption of the melatonin secretion.
Therefore, survey your room for any sources of artificial light, such as the glow from the power buttons of electronics or bright alarm clocks. Especially when sleeping in an unfamiliar environment like a hotel room its always a good idea to turn off the light before going to bed and to look for any disturbing light. Cover those kinds of light sources, or even better turn all electronics entirely off. If it’s your own bedroom best is remove any unnecessary electronics.
However, not being able to switch on any light might also not be a good idea. Especially when you need to make your way to the bathroom at night a dim, cozy nightlight may become vital. Therefore, place a low-wattage lamp on your bedside table which you can switch on and off without the need to get up. In any case, avoid turning on strong overhead lights.
Same with your window coverings: make sure that they can block out any disturbing street or porch light to keep your body in sleep mode until it’s time to wake up. But if you belong to the of the lucky people whose bedroom window is only facing the night sky, you may want to stay away from using any blackout curtains or shades. Waking up naturally by the early morning rays is often the best way to start the day.
Keeping your bedroom too hot
Keeping your bedroom at the right temperature is another critical factor for getting enough restful sleep. The perfect bedroom temperature is anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything outside that range can harm your sleep onset. It’s no news that trying to fall and stay asleep in hot, humid summer nights when the sweat is trickling down your forehead can be very challenging.
Lower temperatures tell your body it’s time to sleep. Therefore, consider putting a programmable thermostat in your bedroom to ensure sleep onset. Also, choose bedding that warms but doesn’t make you hot. And see next – strip down before you go to bed!
Not taking off your clothes
While you might have come across countless strategies on how to reduce stress, lose weight or boost your confidence, there is one which is much more effective and so simple that you can start it tonight: sleeping naked.
The reason is that by taking off your clothes at night, you lower your skin temperature. Keeping yourself cool reduces the number of times you wake up in the night and increases the depth of your sleep. As a result, you wake up well-rested and energized, able to better cope with daily stress.
Removing your clothes at night also boosts your body’s metabolism. To keep you warm your body produces heat which means burning calories – an easy way to lose weight while being asleep. In addition to the metabolic effects, sleeping naked improves blood circulation, which is good for your heart and muscles.
Another important factor is that sleeping naked helps you to feel more comfortable in your own skin, a necessary basis for increasing your self-esteem and confidence.
Curious to learn more about sleeping naked? Check out this post on why you should sleep naked.
Sleeping in bad air
The quality of the air and the quality of your rest are closely related. One reason is that indoor air is more stagnant than outdoor air. But did you also know that indoor air is sometimes 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air? Sleeping in poor indoor air quality strongly affects your health and increases the risk of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, a rather serious sleep disorder which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Before spending a lot of money on filters try another effective and inexpensive way to purify the air in your bedroom: houseplants. Certain plants are great at filtering chemical substances such as xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. Here is a list of common child- and pet-friendly plants which you can use in your bedroom to clean the air permanently:
- Aloe Vera (also great for burns)
- Boston Fern
- Snake plant
- Christmas Cactus
As you can see, there are many things you can avoid in order to start your day on the right foot. Keep these aspects in mind when practicing your sleep hygiene. Some might not affect you as much as others. However, if you are experiencing sleep problems, these 7 factors might be some of the areas where you can experiment a bit and figure out if the changes help you to get better sleep.