Creating A Healthy Environment for Healthy Sleep

Tips for Healthy Sleep

Sleep is critical to our health — physically and mentally.  During sleep, your brain is quite active in restoring tissue and consolidating the information you learned during the day. An important factor in proper sleep is your home environment, including temperature, lighting, and noise.

Find Your Sleep Sweet Spot

The optimal sleep sweet spot is to get comfy at 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit.  Temperatures that are too low or too high can lead to restlessness.

Keeping within this range assists in decreasing core body temperature, which leads to sleepiness (and sweet dreams!). Studies reveal that those suffering from chronic insomnia are more likely to have a warmer core body temperature. And a warmer core temperature leads you to feel more aroused because energy is shifted to resetting the internal thermostat.

Changing your surrounding temperature could include resetting your thermostat, opening a window, and changing bedding for the seasons.

Two tips for better sleep tonight:

  • Take a shower ending in a cool rinse before bed to lower core body temperature. 
  • Sleep in a cool room with a hot water bottle at your feet: A normal sleeper’s decrease in core body temperature is correlated with a rise in temperature of hands and feet.

Take the Lights Down a Notch

Our body has a natural cycle it likes to stick to known as the circadian rhythm.  Light greatly affects the brain chemicals needed to maintain alertness or help us wind down. When you are exposed to light, melatonin, the neurotransmitter most associated with sleep, is reduced.

Three tips for better lighting:

  • Use or install dimmers to support healthy melatonin levels as the evening progresses.
  • Avoid using brightly lit electronics (computer, mobile phone, and TV) 30 minutes before bed. If you need a nighttime activity to relax, grab a good book.
  • Install black out curtains in the bedroom to remove any light stimulation.

Just as you can reduce light as one way to wind down, you also can use an increase in light to help you wake up.  If you hate the jolt of an alarm clock, consider investing in light alarm clocks.The light gradually brightens to gently wake you up from a restful night’s sleep.

Cut the Racket

Sudden sounds cause people to wake up, but people can become accustomed to regular sounds like a partner snoring or a fan.  If earplugs don’t do the trick, here are two more tools.

Two tips for reducing sound stimulation:

  • Keeping a fan in the room can produce enough white noise to block other noises from the outside.
  • Stimulus Desensitization: Record the sound at night using your mobile phone and listen to the noise during the day.  While you are listening, lay down and do a progressive relaxation exercise.

References:

Onen, et al., Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (1994).

Lu and Zee, Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University (2006).

Lack et al., The relationship between insomnia and body temperatures, School of Psychology, Flinders University, South Australia, Australia (2008).

- Dr. Thalia Farshchian, Naturopathic Doctor

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment or dietary/health changes, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.