Can I learn how to sleep like a log?
The short answer is, yes you can! Sleep is no longer the mystery that it used to be and you have almost unlimited possibilities to create a sleeping environment that fits you.
Better habits lead to better sleep
You might have noticed that exercise is good for your sleep. And it is. Among many other good things, exercise builds up a brain chemical that is called adenosine. This good-hearted substance not only makes us more tired, it also promotes a deeper sleep. Exercise is also known to release feel good hormones, or endorphins, that make us more content and happier. Just remember not to exercise just before you're about to go to bed. You’ll probably be all worked up and might have a hard time falling asleep.
Don’t go to bed with your mobile phone
Other habits can affect our sleep negatively. Like coffee, alcohol, tobacco – or using your mobile phone or laptop in bed.
The thing with mobile phones and laptops is the light that they radiate. This blue light tricks our bodies to think it’s time to wake up which makes falling asleep harder. The artificial light (or any kind of light) stops the release of melatonin which is the natural hormone designed to make us tired.
What about coffee. And smoking?
The caffeine in coffee is well-known to make sleep more difficult. Even a single cup of coffee in the afternoon might be enough to make it virtually impossible to fall asleep. Alcohol, on the other hand, relaxes your body and slows down your nervous system. Good, right? No. Because your body may have to spend the entire night dealing with the negative effects of alcohol. So instead of getting a fair chance to rest, it has to work. Since alcohol also relaxes your throat muscles, it makes you more prone to snoring.
It is also known that smokers have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. The nicotine in tobacco affects your body in many ways. Like alcohol, it also tends to prevent your body from total relaxation.
Six steps towards better sleep
There are 6 factors that play a significant role in your night-time sleep quality, which in turn affect your energy, health, and happiness the following day.
The first one, comfort, is also the most important. A comfortable mattress, a pillow that fits your sleeping position and the right duvet is vital for good sleep. Whether you should have a firm or a soft bed comes down to your sleeping position. Choosing a pillow is also very personal. Your pillow should fit your taste but also your sleeping position and go well with your mattress.
The second factor is light. Ideally, the bedroom should be as dark as possible, which sometimes is easier said than done. Blackout curtains and blinds can make a big difference by keeping natural light and city lights out. If nothing else works, an eye mask will do the job. Another thing to consider is the colour of the light. Warm light is the best option as you are getting ready to sleep. A dimmable bulb where you can change the warmth of the light can be a really good investment.
Temperature is the next factor to consider. The most perfect bedroom temperature is between 16 and 17° C. However a good guideline is between 13-20° C.
Next of the six most important factors for good sleep is sound. In a perfect world, your bedroom should be an oasis of calm. A place protected against unwanted and intrusive sounds that can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Keeping sound out can be a real challenge. Soft furnishings, like heavy curtains and thick carpets help to isolate the bedroom and also dampens vibrations.
Air quality is the fifth factor. In many parts of the world, keeping your home free from pollutions is a big issue. And since we spend so much time in bed, it's more important in the sleeping area. A fan, an AC unit, an air purifier or some green plants (preferably aloe vera or spider plant) make a big difference. It's also important to make sure that the air in the sleeping area isn't too humid. Too much humidity prevents moisture evaporating from our body, making us feel uncomfortably hot and sticky.
Last but not least – colours and furnishings. As you might know, colours affect our mind in different ways. The best, as in the most relaxing, bedroom colours are blue, yellow and green. The least favourable alternative for good sleep? Purple.
When it comes to furnishings in the bedroom it's quite simple. Keep it simple and keep the clutter under control. The less clutter you have, the more likely it is that you will sleep well...and feel well as you wake up.