Bears hide away in dens. Rabbits nestle in warrens. People retreat to the bedroom. Sleep experts agree that, like many animals, we need quiet, darkness, cool room temperatures, and general comfort to get plenty of Zzzs.
If you're looking for some easy and quick things you can do to get a better night's sleep, you need look no further than your own bedroom. Your bedroom environment, in fact, profoundly affects the quality of your sleep. Sleep scientists agree that a good sleep environment is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool.
Consider the basic elements of your sleep environment - light, noise, temperature, and comfort. Any of these factors can increase Times Woken and Time in Wake, and decrease Total Z. Each component could also affect the sleep of another sharing your bed - your partner, pet, or child - and their discomfort could disturb your sleep.
Many people find that even small amounts of noise can disturb their sleep. Try dealing with noisy disruptions like a bed partner's snoring by using ear plugs, or by turning on a "white noise" machine, a CD of ocean waves, or a fan, before turning in for the night. (White noise is static, whereas the volume on a TV can change rapidly and unpredictably, and that can disrupt sleep.)
A dark room helps us sleep. Light is the key indicator to your body that it's either day time or night time. If you're getting too much light at the wrong times, you're more likely to confuse your body's internal clock - which can make sleeping at the right times more difficult.
To block outside lights - such as street lamps or light in neighboring homes, try using window blinds, blackout curtains, or heavy drapes. An eye mask can provide your personal zone of darkness - and could be helpful if your partner's reading light keeps you awake.
If you tend to wake up during the night, keep the lights dim. A small night light in the hallway or bathroom can gently and safely light your way.
Your mattress and its foundation can also make an enormous difference in how well you sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most good quality mattresses have a life expectancy of 9 or 10 years. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The Better Sleep Council points out that the mattress foundation should also meet your needs for support and comfort. If you share the bed with a partner, you'll sleep better on a mattress that gives you both enough space to move easily.
A cool room sets the stage for sleep. Experts agree that in most cases, sleep can be enhanced with the room between about 60°F and 75°F, while temperatures above 75°F or below 54°F tend to disrupt sleep. In summer, cool things down with an air conditioner or fan. In winter, snuggling under comforters or electric blankets can keep you warm without making you feel weighed down.
A good sleep environment is low on stress. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says your bed is a place to rest, not a place to worry. Research shows that watching TV is not conducive to calming down, either. Consider removing electronic stressors from the bedroom, such as the laptop computer and TV.