9 min read
In one of our recent blog posts titled “Your ultimate guide to the difference between cotton and microfiber sheets,” we briefly touched on five factors contributing to quality sleep and also why sleep is so important. I feel that I may have left many of you with unanswered questions about your sleep environment. To remedy this, I will elaborate on the five mentioned points that may influence your nightly sleep quality.
Not all people will be comfortable at this sleep temperature as some prefer to sleep warmer while others prefer a cooler temperature to curb night sweats.
According to sleep psychologist Michelle Drerup, PsyD practicing at the Cleveland Clinic, the optimum bedroom or sleep temperature is between 60- and 67-degrees F or 15- and 19-degrees Celsius.
Besides keeping your bedroom cool, it must be dark and quiet for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Your sleep temperature is essential, so you remain in the goldilocks sleep temperature range.
Getting too hot or too cold causes wakefulness which reduces the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or dream stage during sleep. By regulating your sleep temperature, you increase the time spent in the slow-wave sleep stages or restorative sleep stage that gives you the most rest during your sleep cycle.
If your bedroom is too warm or humid, you will become restless and have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
The heat disrupts REM sleep by causing your body temperature to rise and trigger wakefulness. Ideally, your bedroom temperature should not exceed 70 degrees F or 21 degrees C.
If your sleep temperature is below 60 degrees F (15.5 degrees C), your bedroom is too cold and may instigate other health issues.
Our core body temperature begins decreasing before we fall asleep and continues decreasing slowly over about 6 hours to conserve energy and focus on restoring health. When our sleep temperature is too low, it constricts blood vessels, breathing becomes shallow, and strain is put on our cardiovascular system to increase body temperature. This fact explains why blankets are such a valuable part of our health and wellbeing.
Do you have a TV mounted on your bedroom wall? I suggest you remove it if you’re serious about your health and quality of sleep.
Sleep is vital to good health, and with the never-ending Covid-19 pandemic, Covid variants, and health warnings that now include all ages, everyone should look to improving their health status.
If you fall asleep watching TV, you can guarantee that your sleep will be negatively affected even if you sleep right through to your wake-up alarm time.
Night sleep pools together all the attributes necessary for regenerative sleep that include silence, darkness, and lower evening temperatures that help to create the optimum sleep temperature.
Having a TV in your bedroom introduces artificial light, specifically blue and green light, as well as sound, which interferes with melatonin production. Did you know according to Harvard Medical
School research The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
When we shut down melatonin production with artificial light at night, we increase the risk of diseases and conditions that include anxiety, depression, acne, cancer, obesity or weight gain, dementia, and diabetes. Using a program like Iris to reduce the blue light from your TV or wearing blue-light-blocking glasses may help a little, but a lifestyle change is the better option.
You may be interested to know that old incandescent lightbulbs produce less blue light than LED and fluorescent lights. You may want to check what sort of lighting you have in your bedroom and bathroom and, if necessary, change them to lightbulbs that emit less blue light. Of all the bad habits we pick up, having a TV or watching TV in bed is the worst habit of all as far as your health is concerned.
The air that we breathe is vital to our health, and a well-ventilated bedroom provides clean air for the 8 to 10 hours we spend in the relatively confined space we call a bedroom.
Poor ventilation will lead to bad air quality as carbon dioxide levels will increase while oxygen levels decrease.
This will also lead to a humidity imbalance, and sleep quality will be negatively affected while increasing the probability of sensitivities and allergies over time.
It is always best to have rich oxygenated outside air circulate through your home instead of recycling the air trapped in your home to save on energy costs.
High humidity levels lead to mold and bacteria growth that can be detrimental to your health and can be the catalyst to respiratory diseases.
Similarly, too little humidity can lead to dry skin and dehydration. A poorly ventilated bedroom affects sleep quality and can result in insomnia, sleep apnea, inadequate sleep, depression, and fatigue, both physical and mental.
This will inevitably result in emotional turmoil and poor mental readiness. The onset of headaches and nausea indicate the severity of the poor air quality in your home.
To prevent stale air from building up in your home, you need to open windows during the day, and at night you can leave them slightly cracked.
When ventilating your home on a daily basis, use ceiling fans, extractor fans, and open all the inside doors to get a throughflow of clean air through your home.
This will fill your home with clean air and will bring the humidity into balance. Also, try not fully closing your bedroom door at night so you can still benefit from the clean air circulating through your home.
A big concern in many homes is tobacco or cigarette smoke which, as we are all aware, is very bad for your health.
Cigarette smoke sticks to everything, including your walls and ceilings, which over time will appear to have built up a yellowish stain.
It becomes more evident in high humidity areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and shower cubicles.
As a rule, you should not allow smoking in your home under any circumstances. Cigarette smoke diminishes the air quality in your home with the knock-on effect of you enduring poor quality sleep and developing possible health issues.
Bedding includes your bed, blankets, sheets, pillows, and pillowcases. Your bedroom environment must be conducive to relaxation and sleep, so it all begins with the right bed and mattress set. This differs between people and depends on their build, weight, preferred sleep position, and mattress preference, hard, soft, or somewhere in between.
Your actual bedding will be your sheets, blankets, and pillows. Pillows are essential because they help to keep your spine in alignment.
Your sheets and blankets can be seasonal (summer and winter), but they must be breathable and capable of creating a microclimate that regulates your sleep temperature.
Cotton sheets and pillowcases are an obvious choice because they are highly breathable, hypoallergenic, and effortless to wash. Blankets also need to be breathable and hypoallergenic. Wool and cotton blankets are favored for their superior characteristics, but fabric blends and synthetic fabrics also have good features that might be more practical from a cost and weight perspective.
Some synthetic materials are ultra-lightweight and are weaved to be as breathable as cotton.
Bedding is a personal choice; however, the type of fabric you choose should at least be motivated by how much better your quality of sleep will be and not by aesthetics alone.
Take into account the weather pattern in your region and the temperature fluctuations between seasons. You may not need to invest in seasonal bedding, which could allow you to splurge on quality bedding that will assure you quality sleep throughout the year.
Get into the habit of keeping your bedroom in perfect shape. Make your bed every morning, and be sure to shake out your blankets and sheets. Vacuum your mattress once or twice a month and air your blankets outside once a week or fortnight.
Walking into a bedroom that is clean, organized, smells fresh, and has an inviting made-up bed will immediately relax you.
Quality sleep can be improved with essential oils like lavender but don’t try and use these oils to hide other smells like cigarette smoke; it will be counterproductive.
Remember, dust mites thrive on dust, so the cleaner your home is, the less you will be affected, and by choosing the right bedding, you can limit the effects of allergens even further.
Winding down after a busy day is a healthy habit that leads to better sleep. We have discussed melatonin and how or instead when and why it is produced.
It’s logical to be concerned about your sleep routine if you want to function better during the day. You may be a student, or you may hold a responsible position where your decisions could literally mean life or death, or perhaps your decisions determine the financial wellbeing of the company. Whichever it is, you need to function with a clear well-rested mind, and for this, you need quality sleep.
Naturally, people differ, and the five pointers above are a guiding foundation to promote quality sleep as your primary objective.
Those of you that have children will know how vital the wind-down period is in establishing your child’s sleep routine from a very early age.
The same applies to “responsible adults”; after all, we are creatures of habit, and forming good sleep habits will tend to our longevity, health, and general wellbeing.
There are so many variables to consider when it comes to sleep, more specifically, quality sleep.
It may require a complete lifestyle change to achieve your objective, and the sooner you start considering your health and wellbeing over the long term, the sooner you will be able to wake up in the morning and look forward to another glorious day, having had a really great night’s rest.
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