Sleep for Your Health

Sleep for Your Health

Five ways to turn your bedroom into a sleep-positive sanctuary.

Published May 23, 2011

How much sleep you get can affect many aspects of your life, including your ability to lose weight and your overall health in general. But did you know that your own bedroom could be the very thing preventing you from getting the rest you need?

 

Here’s what you can do to create a better sleep environment:

 

Don’t snooze: Pressing the snooze button can keep you from the most important stage of sleep, REM sleep, which usually happens during the last third of the night. Make it a habit to set your alarm for the time you really want to wake up and resist the urge to buy yourself more time.

 

Give Yourself an Electronic Curfew: Unplug completely, turning off all electronics, an hour before bedtime. This will help you sleep with fewer distractions. Having a hard time cutting the cord? Try the POWER DOWN HOUR technique, and use 20 minutes to prepare for the next day (lay out your clothes or pack a lunch), 20 minutes for personal hygiene and the last 20 minutes for meditation or relaxation.

 

Use a Night Light: When you get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and turn on the light, it’s like telling your brain it’s morning. This can slow down the production of melatonin, which controls your sleep and wake cycles. Instead, plug in a night light in your hallway and bathroom so that you can find your way there and back to sleep quickly.

 

Get Comfortable: Don’t underestimate the importance of having the right mattress and pillow. The cozier you are the faster and harder you will sleep. Your body will tell you when you need to buy a new mattress, but never sleep on the same one for longer than seven years. Pillows should be replaced once a year, or sooner if your neck starts to bother you.

 

Incorporate Sounds: When it’s too quiet your hearing can become more sensitive to the smallest sounds, making it difficult to sleep through the night. Choose a noise that will help drown out any potential noises around you while allowing you to doze off. A sound machine or even a fan can go a long way toward create a supportive sleep environment.

 

(Photo: Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)

Written by Brandi Tape

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