This post is sponsored by Sleepmaker
Insomnia is on the rise and it’s our beloved screens that seem to be the cause, according to sleep experts. This is bad news for someone like me who has often woken with a smart phone imbedded in my cheek (just quietly, I’m impressed it survived the drool) but apparently there is hope.
It turns out, there are quite a few things hiding in our bedrooms that might be impacting our sleep and I’m not talking about snoring partners, wailing babies and bad smells (I made a lavender pillow spray to help fight the last issue – the recipe’s at the end, with a printable label, because it also makes a lovely gift).
‘But how can I get more sleep????’ is the catch cry whenever I mention trying to get more sleep on Facebook and the reason I started asking around to find out what we can do about it.
The Australasian sleep association has some guidelines for setting up good bedtime routines or establishing good ‘sleep hygiene’ as it is strangely called, while the The Sleep Shack has some great articles on helping kids and teens get more sleep and why we need to.
However, it’s also really important to think about how the room is set up, because it can impact the “The two things that control sleep in our body: melatonin and core (body) temperature,” says Dr Chris Seton, a sleep physician at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. “Basically, we’re aiming for a drop in core temperature and to trigger an increase in melatonin.”
The 3 big sleep enemies
Feeling too hot
6 steps to setting up the bedroom for sleep
1. Keep all screens, big and small, out of the bedroom
The bedroom is no place for a blue light disco. It’s thought that our brain is wired to find the blue light of the pre-dawn sky stimulating and this is why technology screens are so disruptive for sleep when used near bedtime, because they emit shed loads of blue light.
“Basically, technology hammers the brain with the message to wake up,” says Seton. Sometimes, just seeing our various gadgets can signal to our brain that it’s time to be stimulated with work, games and so on, which is why they need to be banished.
If you need encouragement, I particularly like Smaggle’s fabulous initiative for being screen free after 9pm.
2. A dark, dark room
We want the room as dark as possible, because, “Melatonin turns up when it’s dark and allows us to sleep and turns off when it’s light, signalling the body to wake up,” says Seton.
This means black out curtains on the windows and can mean turning out all the random light sources, from nightlights, clocks to charging phones.
If children need a nightlight, because they are scared of the dark, Seton recommends choosing the dimmest light possible, ideally with a yellow or red tone. “No light is better, but a very dim yellow or red light is better than blue.”
3. A slightly cooler room is better than a warm one
A good strategy is to keep the room cool and manage the body temperature with sheets and blankets, because we need to let our core temperature drop for the brain to signal that it’s time to sleep. “We can adjust to the noise of a fan running, but if our core temperature isn’t dropping, then the brain signals us to stay awake.”
The ideal temperature range is called the Goldilocks temperature, because it’s not too hot and not too cold. Seton is hesitant to give specifics, because it can be different for different people. From what I understand, it’s somewhere around the point where you’d feel more comfortable in a long sleeve shirt, rather than a short sleeve shirt if you were sitting.
4. A comfortable mattress
A mattress needs to be comfortable, says Seton. It’s really important to signal to the brain that we feel safe and secure and ready for sleep.
If you’ve lost the love for your mattress, then our lovely sponsor Sleepmaker Comfort Selector has a great tool for helping choose a good one.
Our mattress is still going strong, but I am curious about the latex mattresses, because they’re meant to be pretty eco-friendly, it’s a natural fibre that’s apparently super comfortable and durable. Do you use a latex mattress? How do you find it?
5. Bedding and linen
Sheets and blankets need to be adjusted with the seasons to allow our core temperature to drop. “Cotton cellular blankets are great to have on the bed,” says Seton. “We tend to over do bedding… It’s fine to sleep without a sheet in hot weather and layers are better in winter and cooler weather, so that you can adjust them as needed.”
He also warns against adding an extra layer for children, as this can overheat them and disturb their sleep. “The old adage of one extra layer for children just doesn’t apply, except for babies under six months.”
On a side note: we had a discussion on Facebook about linen sheets and if they’re worth the extra expense. The general consensus from the lovely community was yes, Irish linen sheets felt cooler in summer and had been known to last 40+ years so presented good value over time, although potentially crazy-making for people who like the ironed smooth look.
6. Bedroom as a haven
Your bedroom should feel safe and calm. It’s all about creating positive, relaxing associations with your bedroom. “Make the bedroom a place of comfort and happiness.”
What does this mean for you? A beautiful artwork, nice scents, soothing colours or soft textures?
If you’re like me and have a sensitive nose where a bad smell can keep you awake, I’ve included a lavender pillow spray recipe to help sensitive noses relax. It’s also a lovely gift.
Here is the free printable label: Lavender-pillow-spray printable gift tag
Setting up positive feelings for the bed and bedroom is really important for kids. “Don’t use the bedroom for time out or sending to bed as a punishment, because you don’t want kids to have a negative association with sleep.” We all need to view our beds and bedrooms as a safe haven from the world.
I’d love to hear what helps you nod off into la-la land. Do you have any tricks?
- ½ cup boiled and cooled water
- 1 tablespoon vodka
- 30 drops lavender essential oil
- Mix all the ingredients together in a dark glass or ceramic spray bottle.
- Label the bottle with date and ingredients.
- Shake well before use.
- Spray around the room and a light mist on the pillow before going to bed.
- Always test new products on a discrete spot in case of allergy.