Is your bedroom the cause of your sleep troubles?

good night’s sleep, difficulty falling asleep, sleep wake cycle, sleep problems, sleep disorders, fall asleep, falling asleep. night’s sleep, sleep environment, bedroom environment
Sleep Troubles in the Bedroom

When sleepless nights happen to me, it seems I can’t catch up!  Recently, I went through a particularly long period and I knew I had to find out what was going on.  I discovered this: better bedroom, better sleep!  

After reading numerous publications and blogs, I learned that over 40% of Americans have trouble sleeping and that we spend 30% of our lives in bed.  It’s a big deal!  One day, I read a simple posting that reminded me of my recent bedroom redecorating efforts.  Could this really be the source of my problem? To my complete surprise, it turned out to be true.      

Drs. Roslinde Collins, Patrick Wolcoot, Martin Cohn and Shelby Harris agree that any sleeping space that is too bright, too warm, too messy or too stimulating can spell disaster on a healthy night rest.  Here are some helpful tips.  

TOO BRIGHT!

Fr. Patrick Wolcott, medical director of the Sleep Center of Southern California says “light exposure is one of the strongest regulators of our biological clock – even the glow from an alarm clock or cell phone can disrupt our circadian rhythm”.  For more information, click here. 

REMEDIES:

  • My new draperies, pretty as they are, were not suppressing street lamps or those early dawns.  Tiny beams of light can affect sleep so I added blackout shades.  
  • My new alarm clock matched my color scheme – blue!  I returned it when I read that blue lights have an especially strong impact.  Dr. Shelby Harris, psychologist and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, states ‘the blue light spectrum affects sleep-wake patterns more than regular white light’.  My newest clock has red lights.

TOO WARM!

I know this problem very well.  Suffering for years from cruel hot flashes, I strive for cool rooms.  My reading confirmed that we get physiological cues from the temperature.  Dr. Harris says “a drop in body temperature triggers sleep.  The body cools naturally over the course of the night, reaching its lowest core temperature two hours before waking”.  

REMEDIES:

  • Dr. Martin Cohn, medical director of Sleep Disorders of Southwest Florida, says the ideal temperature is between 60 to 68 degrees.  My husband is going to just love that!  
  • When possible, cool your bedroom down before turning in.  Turn down the air conditioning, open windows or use fans to move warm air out.
  • Black out shades keep rooms cooler as well as blocking out light.  

TOO MESSY!

The National Sleep Foundation state that when we make our beds, 19% of us sleep better.  71% say they sleep better in a fresh-smelling bedroom.  Think about it!  Since we spend one third of our lives in bed, it is sensible that a bedroom be a peaceful retreat.  

REMEDIES:

  • Make your bed.  Momma was right!  A clean, fresh bed helps us to relax while a messy, unkempt bed or room reminds us of unfinished chores and may leave us feeling stressful as a result.
  • Create a sense of calm and order – close closet doors and dresser drawers.  Take a moment to put away your shoes and jewelry.  Take the time it takes.  Think more feng shui!
  • While this was not a problem area for me, I did simplify the overall appearance of my room.  I like the new ‘spaces’ I created!

TOO STIMULATING!

TV’s, electronics, books, stacks of unfinished work – it all sends our brain into overdrive – instead of restful sleep.  Dr. Wolcott says our bodies crave routine and repetition.  When we surf the net, check Facebook or watch television, we program our brains to wake up and work.  Four months ago my bedtime routine considerably – I got an iPad.  The games, the books, the news – Zombie Café is such fun!

REMEDIES:

  • I leave my iPad downstairs.  I have banned all electronics.
  • I read lighter material than the latest James Patterson novel and he catches up on sports.  No more late news for us.  

When I finished making the necessary changes to my bedroom, I was able to regain my normal sleep pattern – and keep my new bedroom!  This is a win-win experience for me.  

Thanks for reading – let me know your thoughts! 

~ Barbara