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Why sleep is so important - 5 Quick and Simple Ways To Improve Your Sleep Tonight

December 17, 2021 9 min read

5 Quick and simple ways to improve your sleep woman and man on bed under kuba cloth throw

Why sleep is so important and why Creating The Ultimate Sleep Environment will change your life.

Quick tip: Stay away from blue light. The blue light on phone and computers has been proven to suppress melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

Women and an lying on a bed under a mudcloth african blanket and throw

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.

1. Why sleep is so important: Room Temperature and getting a good night sleep

The optimum bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18,3 degrees Celsius.

 

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.

NEST THERMOSTAT  on a walll reading 63 degree fahrenheit

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. 

Here are a few tips on how to create the optimum sleep temperature:

  • For temperature-regulated homes, set the thermostat to 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C an hour or so before you go to bed.
  • Use a fan to cool your bedroom down but don’t let it blow directly onto you.
  • For at least a few hours before bedtime, avoid caffeinated drinks and foods high in sugar as they increase body temperature.
  • Your pajamas and bedding should be breathable and should be season-appropriate.

2. Why sleep is so important: Try to limit all screens of all shapes and sizes

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).

an apple laptop slightly ajar showing the bluelight effect on eyes at noght

Melatonin is a hormone produced about three to four hours after the absence of blue and green light. Melatonin helps in the following ways:

  • It helps us to fall asleep
  • Regenerates several body parts and systems
  • It helps to burn fat
  • Rests your brain

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.

3. Why sleep is so important: Ventilation is more important than you may think

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.

to show ventilation an open window in an old house with curtain blowing in the wind

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. 

4. Why Sleep Is So Important: Uncomfortable Bedding Can Have A Negative Affect On Your Sleep Cycle

Man and women embrace under a congo kuba throw

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. 

Women lying under Basotho heritage blanket on bed

5. Why Sleep Is So Important: Don't underestimate the importance of a nightly pre sleep routine to create a healthy nights sleep

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.

showing nightly or daily routine for a better nights sleep a journal open on desk with daily to do tasks

Here are some tips on how to establish a pre-sleep routine: 

 

  • Create and stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time consistently, even over the weekend if possible. Sleep for not more than 7 hours a night. You should fall asleep within 20 minutes if you are set in your routine, but life happens, and your mind may remain engaged processing pressing issues.
  • Don’t eat heavy meals for a few hours before your bedtime. If you’re still hungry, then have a light snack an hour or so before bed. Eating a big meal or going to bed hungry will disrupt your sleep, as will caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Drink water or non-caffeinated tea to quench your thirst before bed.
  • You need to look at points one to four above and create the best sleep environment for yourself. It must be dark, quiet, and relaxed with the right bedding that will regulate your sleep temperature throughout the night. Include relaxation like meditation, a hot bath, or listening to relaxing music an hour before you go to bed. Avoid TV and other screen activities for the reasons mentioned above.
  • If you must take daytime naps, make them brief, but it’s best to avoid them. Instead, get involved in a sport or other activity that gives you exercise and burns energy. 
  • Leave your office worries at the office. Worrying at night is like paying interest on troubles that haven’t occurred yet and may not even come to pass. If you have concerns write them down with possible solutions and leave them for tomorrow, then focus on reading a good book or some other relaxing activity. Learn to manage your worries, so they don’t deprive you of sleep. You will need a clear, focused mind to deal with them at the right time.

To sum up Why Sleep Is So Important

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.

Read our other post for great tips and tricks for other blog about why sleep Is so important

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