Your bedroom should be a stylish place that you think of as your oasis. The place you go at the end of your day, sink in, and find refreshing rest. It should be decorated with all of your favourite things, but also clean and clutter-free. You might enjoy being in your bedroom so much that you even find yourself counting down the minutes until you get to crawl under your duvet and lay your weary head on the pillow, finally free from your boss’s demands or scrubbing sticky toddler graffiti from the walls or re-grouting the bathtub.
But when you’re suffering from insomnia, that oasis can become a place of misery where you toss and turn for hours. You might even start to dread the walk down the hall to your room at the end of the night, knowing your cozy-looking bed with its designer pillows is just going to be a source of frustration.
If that sounds like you, there’s no need to worry.
Believe it or not, your bedroom environment can actually have a big impact on your ability to fall asleep, and with just a few simple tricks you can make it that peaceful oasis your mind and body need it to be.
Remember that blue light wreaks havoc on our body’s circadian rhythm and disrupts melatonin production, the sleep hormone. Hunt down all offending sources of blue light and snuff them out. This means staying off your phone, tablet, TV and computer before bed, or turning the night light mode up to maximum on all of your devices.
Try to surround yourself with yellow light before bed. Invest in some good bedroom lighting – consider a chandelier drum on the ceiling, a table lamp on your dresser or desk and two bedside lamps on either side of your bed. Turn off one light at a time over the course of 10 minutes or so to gradually make the room darker – this simulates sunset and signals to the body that it’s time to sleep.
If your bedroom window is directly near an LED streetlight, try blackout blinds or curtains to block as much blue light out as possible. Alternatively, you can email your local council and ask them to either change the light to red, or ask them to install a shade so that not as much light travels backward into your room.
Ditch the clock
One thing many insomniacs have in common is clock-watching…and it’s a terrible idea.
You know how it goes…you can’t fall asleep for what feels like hours, so you check your clock and see that yes indeed, it’s 2:00 a.m. Then you start the math. “If I fall asleep NOW, I will get five hours’ sleep, so I might not pass out with my breakfast pastry in my hand at the board meeting…” But then you don’t fall asleep right away, so you check again…and again…and again, each time getting more and more anxious.
If you have to set an alarm, set your phone and then turn it to silent and stuff it in a drawer. Do not open that drawer until the alarm goes off. Trust me, you will be saving yourself a lot of grief.
Make your bed
What does that have to do with sleeping well, you ask? Well, interestingly, there are studies that show that making your bed can make you feel less anxious about hopping into bed.
And check our this survey by Hunch.com: Out of 68,000 people who were asked about their bed-making habits, 71 percent of bed makers considered themselves happy, while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admitted to being unhappy. Hmm.
Bed makers were also more likely to like their jobs, exercise regularly and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers didn’t like their jobs, and tended to wake up tired. Seems like making your bed in the morning, which is only about a two-minute time investment, is probably worth it.
While none of these tricks are a magic wand that will make you an instantly good sleeper, they are three effective ways to battle insomnia. After all, the more steps you take to give your body the chance to slip off to sleep without anxiety and distractions, the more chance you have of kicking those sleepless nights forever.