Creating a Healthy Sleep Environment
Curating a healthy sleep space goes beyond just the quality of your mattress and sleep accessories. The following aspects of the sleep environment are important in inducing sleep and staying well rested:
Bedding & Comfort
Comfort is the foundation of quality sleep. It is important to have a comfortable mattress, a supportive pillow and cozy, breathable bedding. Mattresses come in a variety of constructions including memory foam, latex and traditional innerspring. BedInABox® memory foam mattresses provide the perfect balance of comfort and support, without the price tag of latex foam and with more durability than a traditional innerspring mattress. Mattress toppers are an alternative to buying a new mattress if it’s not quite time yet, and will extend the life of your current mattress while providing additional comfort and support. Pillows should properly support your head and neck and bedding should be clean, cool, and comfortable.
Keeping your bedroom clean and uncluttered is very important to create a relaxing sleep environment. Having paperwork, mail, clothes or dishes in your sleep space can induce stress and make it difficult to fall asleep. Your sleep space should be soothing and really only used for sleeping, so it’s important to keep it that way. Decorating with peaceful pictures or decorating your sleep space with soothing colors should help with relaxation and induce sleep, as well.
In the National Sleep Foundation’s Annual American Sleep Poll in 2011, 95 percent of individuals between ages 13 to 63 years were surveyed and reported going to sleep with the television on. Sleeping with the television on can, not only, keep the brain too alert for sleep, but also disturb your sleep environment with too much light. Light reduces natural melatonin production in the brain, which is the hormone that induces sleep.If you need absolute darkness to fall and stay asleep, you may want to consider adding blackout curtains or drapes to your windows to block street lights or sunlight.
The ideal sleeping temperature is around 65 degrees. Sleeping in environments that are too warm or too cool can force the body to exert energy on sweating or shivering, keeping the body too alert to sleep. Figure out the perfect combination of sleep clothes, blankets, and room temperature to make you the most comfortable at night.
If you have ever heard the sound of the television or the alarm clock in a dream, then you understand how noise can affect sleep. Noise sensitivity varies from person to person. Some may enjoy ambient sound or soft music when falling asleep. Sound should be at a low level and consistent, because sudden sounds can spike heart rates and cause waking. You will most likely adjust to certain noises over time, such as city traffic or the ticking of a clock.
Sleeping With A Partner
In the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America Poll, 38 percent of participants reported that they had problems in their relationship due to their sleep partner’s sleep disorder. Even peaceful sleepers can toss and turn 50 to 60 times in one night. If a snoring sleep partner is the problem, elevating their head with pillows or an adjustable bed may be helpful. Using earplugs may also help block out the sound. Another disruptive bed partner could be your pet. Pets can make noise and move all through the night (they don’t need eight hours of sleep because they sleep throughout the day). It is best to train pets to sleep in a bed of their own.
Effects of Color on Sleep
Our brains react differently to different colors because every color produces a varying sensation. Thanks to Sir Isaac Newton’s discoveries on how light is perceived, color is defined as the property possessed by an object that produces different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light. These sensations are how color dramatically affects mood, feelings, and emotions. Color can be very powerful in influencing mood or physiological reactions and has even been associated with increased blood pressure and metabolism. If color is powerful enough to influence mood or increase blood pressure, then how much is color affecting our sleep? A recent study conducted by Travelodge explores how much color can affect our sleep. Travelodge looked through the keyhole of 2,000 homes to investigate how bedroom color impacts the quality and quantity of sleep these homeowners are getting every night. Some major findings from the study:
- On average people sleeping in a blue room are getting seven hours and fifty two minutes of sleep per night. The color blue also helped to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which are essential in achieving a good quality night’s sleep.
- The second most favorable color scheme for inducing a good night’s sleep is yellow. People who sleep in a yellow bedroom are getting an average of seven hours and forty minutes of shut eye per night. Yellow stimulates the nervous system, which aids relaxation, while also creating a warm and cozy atmosphere.
- A green bedroom is the nation’s third most popular sleep inducing color – with sleepers getting on average seven hours and thirty six minutes of sleep. Green creates a restful, calming environment which helps relaxation.
- A bedroom with silver decor is the fourth most popular sleep inducing color scheme – with individuals getting, on average, seven hours and thirty three minutes of sleep per night. The metallic color makes a bedroom feel luxurious and glow like moonlight, which can trick the eye into believing it is nighttime even when it’s not.
- An orange bedroom is the fifth most popular sleep inducing color – with sleepers getting on average seven hours and twenty eight minutes of snooze time. Shades of orange add warmth to the room and help create a stable and reassuring atmosphere. The color orange can even help with digestion, especially if you have eaten a large or late evening meal.
- In contrast, the study also revealed the least favored bedroom colors for regular, good quality sleep are purple, brown and grey, each resulting in about seven hours of sleep a night, or less. Using these colors in your bedroom is also more likely to promote vivid dreams or even nightmares, resulting in fragmented sleep.
This study is a good example of how room color can influence your sleep, your mood, and even the tone for your living environment. Adjusting your sleep environment can make major differences in your quality of sleep. The sleep environment is often overlooked by troubled sleepers and can improve sleep disorder symptoms and overall well-being. Therefore, it's important to choose a bedroom color and decor that will help induce sleep.
Elliot, Andrew J., and Markus A. Maier. "Color and Psychological Functioning." Current Directions in Psychological Science 16.5 (2007): 250-54. Web.
Travelodge. The Secret To A Good Night's Slumber Is To Sleep In A Blue Bedroom. [Press release] 17 May 2013. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.
Whitfield, T.W., & Wiltshire, T.J. (1990). Color psychology: A critical review. Genetic, Social & General Psychology Monographs, 116, 387–412.