By Nathan Bailey, MA, LPC
It’s not rocket science, when you sleep well, you feel better. We’ve talked before about ways to prepare yourself for good quality sleep (sometimes called sleep hygiene) but there are also things you can do to the environment around you. Making these changes helps to support falling asleep as well as improving the quality of your sleep.
1. Make your room a place of rest
Your room should help you relax and calm down, not stress you out. Do you have stuff everywhere? Been a while since you purged things you can get rid of? If you work from home and your “office” is now your room, does your desk/computer/work stuff “stare you in the face” reminding you of undone tasks when you try to switch into sleep mode?
If you want to make changes in this area, start small. Gather up anything that can be put away and get it up off the floor, chair, bed etc. Start a few piles…what can you give away and what needs to be put away (somewhere other than the bedroom). Get yourself some separation from work. Can you rethink putting your office somewhere else in your home (even if you create a little nook in an under-utilized closet)? If you have no other choice but to keep it in your room, try using a screen or even just a blanket to cover up your stuff. Most of all, turn everything off when you’re done for the day! Hearing your email ding or other such alerts is not going to help you relax.
2. Get a new mattress or pillow
When was the last time you got a mattress? They don’t last forever. Even if the salesperson promised 20 years, if you’re finding yourself waking up with aches and pains or you’re tossing and turning to try and get comfortable, it might be time for a change. Likewise, a good pillow can make a world of difference. Still using one you stole from your parent’s house when you moved out? Time to find something else. These days there’s a lot of options and while some can be expensive you can still find something quality without breaking the bank.
3. Screens don’t help
Television sets and other screens will only disrupt your plans for a relaxing transition into a good sleep. In addition to the noise they provide, the rapid pace required by your brain to take in information and the general disruption they can cause, they get in the way of other activities you could be using to calm down. Buy a cheap alarm clock and just leave your phone outside your room.
4. Keep it cool
There’s enough research out there suggesting we sleep better in cooler temperatures. In fact, I’ve seen many such articles suggesting that the optimal temperature is between 60-65. You might immediately begin crunching the numbers on what that could cost if you’re needing to run the AC during the summer months…but maybe it’ll balance out from not using as much heat in the winter? Either way, high quality sleep is priceless. If nothing else, crank up that ceiling fan and get a little breeze going.
5. Pick the right sounds, eliminate the bad ones
Eliminating the bad sounds might be as easy as keeping the screens out of your room that I mentioned above. If there’s other sounds you can’t stop, consider blocking them with white noise (this is also a good option if you’re not a fan of dead quiet). There’s many ways to create white noise that might be as easy as running a louder style fan. If that’s not enough, consider getting a white noise machine. They often come with different sound options to include waves, birds or other sounds of nature.
6. Try a weighted blanket
Over the last few years, weighted blankets have surged in popularity. Some people have found them to be comforting and soothing. They come in all weights and sizes. Do a little research and determine if this might be something you’d enjoy. They are pretty easy to find and sometimes you can find ones that are handmade.
It’s not uncommon for our anxiety to get the better of us and disrupt our sleep. If you’ve made efforts to create better sleeping conditions and you’re finding yourself still not getting the sleep you need, you may want to consider getting professional anxiety counseling. At Lime Tree Counseling we provide this service and have several skilled therapists ready to assist you. Reach out to schedule and if you’re interested but not sure, we can set up a time for you to chat with one of our team and answer any questions you might have.