Sleep experts are just beginning to understand how the environment in which we sleep affects the quality of our rest. Because we are animals, however, our bodies do respond to primal cues.
Too much light in the bedroom can dramatically affect the quality of sleep we experience there. If a street lamp shines directly into your room, you might invest in heavy curtains to block out the light. Did you ever notice how relaxing it is to sleep in a hotel with thick curtains drawn tightly? Hotel administrations have long realized that the quality of sleep their guests experience is critical in gaining repeat or referred business.
Your ability to be productive at work and home — not to mention your overall health — is also related to the quality of sleep you experience. Small enhancements such as high-quality linens and heavy curtains can go a long way toward improving your sleep.
Banish that Desk
Keep in mind, as well, that certain items will interfere with your ability to relax. A desk in your bedroom cluttered with papers, for example, can keep you up and make you uneasy. The worries associated with work and bills don't cease when the sun goes down.
The best way to convey to yourself that you're going to let those things go for the night is to push the desk into another corner of the house. That way, daytime duties won't have a chance to bleed into nighttime rest.
Keep It Cool
Your body moves toward sleep when your temperature drops. This is why a bath before bed (but not immediately before sleep) can be helpful in getting you ready for sleep. Both the bath and exercise will cause your body temperature to rise and stay up for about ninety minutes. After that, your temperature will dip and your body will welcome sleep.
Also, be aware of the temperature of your room. A room that is too hot will be difficult to sleep in and may even cause bad dreams. A slightly open window, even in the colder months, can go a long way toward moderating your bedroom temperature. A gentle breeze can help increase airflow and help you relax into sleep.
Sleep specialists have also noticed that the things we do in our beds can negatively affect sleep. If, for example, you don't have a desk in your bedroom but you work in bed on your laptop computer during the day, you might find that when you crawl into bed at night, your mind and body will still think “work,” not “rest.” Ideally, everything in your room will convey a message of rest.