Bedroom rules

Even though we spend nearly one third of our lives in our bedrooms, most of us do not give it the importance it deserves. These simple changes to your bedroom can make a big difference to your sleep

There is no single recipe for the perfect bedroom. Individual preferences dictate what constitutes a sleep-friendly bedroom. Having said that, the following tips can go a long way in helping you tweak your bedroom to promote sleep and combat insomnia.

Control the light

Our body is aligned to changes of day and night by an internal clock—the biological clock. It produces the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for making us drowsy. Melatonin also controls the sleep cycles. Exposure to light reduces melatonin production. It is one reason why we find it difficult to fall asleep under bright lights.

Sheer curtains may look exquisite but if you want to cut out light, make sure you choose thick curtains or layer the sheer ones. This also comes in handy when you need to take a nap during the day. You can also use an eye patch for the same effect. Avoid using very bright lights for your bedroom. Melatonin is more sensitive to blue light, so dim yellow lights are more conducive to sleep. Choose yellow light for your bedside lamp too.

Block the noise

Not all of us are deep sleepers. For many, even the faintest noise wakes them up. Studies have shown that even when it doesn’t wake you up, noise pollution can hamper the quality of your sleep. So, fix that creaky ceiling fan or leaking tap you have been neglecting. And turn off your mobile phones or put them on the silent mode.

There are sources of noise that are beyond your control. Barking dogs, sounds of traffic, sirens or any kind of machinery are sleep-killers. If you live close to a main road or a railroad, there’s not much you can do to eliminate noise. Sound-proofing your bedroom is beyond the reach of most people. But simple measures like thick curtains and ear plugs can help cut down noise to help you get better sleep. Another method is to use monotonous ‘white-noise’ to cancel out the disturbing sounds. The sound of ocean waves, rain, or a fast fan can all act like white noise.

Combat chaos

The moment you step into your bedroom, it should induce a relaxing feeling in your mind and body. An orderly bedroom pleases the eyes. Keep your work away from your bedroom. When you work in your bedroom, your mind finds it difficult to ‘switch-off’ and get into sleep mode.

The colours in your bedroom affect your mood. Light colours soothe the mind. Shades of blue and green help to relax. Warm colours like red and orange naturally make one aroused and anxious.

Create harmony by following a minimalist approach. Keep only what is absolutely necessary in the bedroom. Symmetry in the bedroom promotes relaxation. Try adjusting the pictures on your bedroom walls and arrange bedside lampshades to achieve symmetry.

Control the temperature

A bedroom needs to remain at a comfortable temperature range. Too warm and you will wake up sweating in the middle of the night. Too cold and you find yourself shivering in sleep. The right temperature is a personal choice, but keep in mind that it can affect the quality of your sleep. Simple measures like opening a window or sleeping with the fan on can help you fall asleep faster and remain asleep. Your bedroom should be properly ventilated such that it allows for circulation of outside air in the room.

Invest in your mattress and pillows

A comfortable bed is the best investment for restful sleep. When the body feels softness, it falls asleep faster.

Buy a mattress that is comfortable but firm. The mattress needs to support your body. An extra soft mattress may make you feel cosy, but it can cause backaches in the long run which will affect your sleep. Also, mattresses should be changed at least every seven years—or more frequently if there’s damage.

A good pillow should support your head and neck. When it comes to pillows, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Often, a big pillow is bad for your posture. Your neck needs to be aligned with your body. If your neck is stretched while you sleep or you wake up with a neck strain, it can be due to wrong pillow height.

These should find no space in your bedroom

  • Television
  • Computer
  • Wall clock
  • Exercise equipment
  • Shoe rack/footwear
  • Trash can
  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
  • Food and drinks

This was first published in the October 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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