The quality of sleep we get is one of the most critical factors in maintaining good physical and mental health. Without enough sleep, our bodies do not have the opportunity to repair and replenish our bodies or to process our experiences. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get the rest they need to be able to function at their best on a regular basis. There are lots of ways to improve your chances of a good night’s rest from reducing caffeine intake, quitting technology for at least an hour before bed or simple breathing and relaxation exercises. However, there are also small changes you can make to your physical sleep environment which can make a significant difference.
- Upgrade your bedding
Old and worn-out bedding will not only be uncomfortable but will prevent you from falling and staying asleep. If you have a lumpy and/or unsupportive mattress, consider upgrading to a memory foam mattress, which will mold to the shape of your body and support you as you sleep. You may also want to invest in a good quality memory foam mattress foundation as a poor bed base will prevent the mattress from being able to do its job, especially if it is broken or lacking in ventilation. A good quality mattress should last around 10 years.
Pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years as they can lead to health issues such as dust mites or mold. Choose covers that are dustproof and resistant to allergens and wash them on a weekly basis. Your bed sheets are also important as you don’t want to be too warm and sweaty during the night. Aim for a thread count between 200-400 and natural fabrics like cotton.
- Take control of the temperature
While you are asleep, your body temperature is likely to fluctuate, so while you may be tempted to turn the thermostat up to make the room as cozy as possible, this may have a detrimental impact on your quality of sleep. Our body temperature drops during the night, and when the room is too warm, the contrast can cause us to wake up. Cooler temperatures of between 16-18 Celsius (65 Fahrenheit) will enable you to sleep more soundly, but it’s crucial to find the level you’re comfortable with.
- Consider the noises in your room
It’s not a ground-breaking statement, but a noisy environment is usually harder to fall asleep in. Whether you live in a noisy area, your neighbor has a barking dog or your partner snores, sudden or loud noises can be very disruptive when trying to sleep. This is especially true when you are in the early stages of falling asleep, such as before you have fallen into a deep sleep. In addition to insulating your bedroom against noise as far as possible, you might also want to consider using neutral or soothing background noise to help you tune out sporadic noises. Some people use a white noise machine, relaxing and repetitive sounds like whale song or rainfall and some find it easier to sleep to the sound of an air purifier or fan.