Did you know that you would die from lack of sleep before you would die from lack of food?
Sleep is not optional. Every square inch of you needs it; your brain to recharge and process information and your cells to do their repair work. Important hormones that regulate your body’s functions release during slumber. For a sobering list of things that can happen to a brain that is deprived of sleep, see this infographic from Science.Mic.
Yet almost no one gets enough sleep. As William Dement, a sleep researcher, once said, “The national sleep debt is larger and more important than the national debt.”
The issue has even caught the attention of the Center for Disease Control, who links sleep deprivation to car wrecks, workplace accidents, errors on the part of health care professionals (how much sleep did your surgeon get last night?), as well as chronic health challenges like obesity, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes.
Obviously, it’s time to take sleep seriously.
THE BEDROOM FACTOR
The bedroom is where you spend approximately a third of your life. It’s also where you train your brain to enter sleep mode, just like your computer! Fortunately, this square footage can be turned into a sanctuary that will entice Sandman to come around more often and stay longer.
WAYS TO TURN YOUR BEDROOM INTO A GOOD WIND-DOWN ZONE
Elevated cortisol and lowered melatonin—oh, my! Both of these are a result of being exposed to too much artificial lighting at night (also known as LAN). For a sleep-disturbing discussion of the bad things that are happening to our bodies because of all this artificial light, read i09’s article, “Why we need to sleep in total darkness.”
Oh, and LAN may make you fat. Do I have your attention now?
When you finish the article, take a couple of steps to darken your bedroom and reduce LAN exposure.
Leave SmartPhones, tablets, etc. in another room in the house. Yes, it’s hard! But necessary if you want to catch the zzzs you need and avoid puffy eyes plus even more serious lack-of-sleep-caused health concerns.
Okay, if you won’t leave the electronics in another room, then at least use a light-control app like f.lux or Twilight. These apps reduce the amount of blue light being emitted by your phone after dark. Less light equals more melatonin (did you read that article?) and better sleep.
Block light coming in through windows. There’s a ton of options, everything from black out shades to shutters to heavy drapes.
It seems obvious that you want a quiet room, but how many of us stop and do a sound check in our bedroom? Try it—sit down on your bed and identify the noises that filter in. Then ask yourself which noises can be eliminated (maybe you could run the dishwasher during waking hours?) or blocked. Those heavier window coverings you purchased to make your bedroom darker? They also block sound. Two for one!
Sound bounces off hard surfaces, while padded ones absorb sound—one good reason to go fluffy, poofy and textured in your bedroom furniture, flooring and wall treatments.
Acoustic tiles are a design-forward solution to diffusing sound. These tiles can be used as wall art, headboards or even arranged on the ceiling. MIO has a version, made from recycled paper, which can be applied temporarily or permanently, and painted to match or accent your bedroom décor.
Outside your bedroom windows, use landscaping as a buffer to sound. Good candidates for year-round protection from street noises include shrubs with thick leaves and evergreen trees or bushes.
If there are factors you can’t control, which is the case for most urban dwellers, you can mask outside sounds with white noise machines or fans.
When all else fails, try ear plugs. Whatever it takes!
Yes, even your nose can play a role in getting you ready to hit the hay. Essential oils like lavender, bergamot and sandalwood have been used throughout history for their calming effects. Fresh-smelling sheets may entice you into bed at an earlier hour. Air-cleaning plants like Boston ferns and Peace lilies make sure the air in your bedroom is as pristine as possible.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that the best range for sleeping is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too high, you might not sleep as deeply.
Sure, your eyes are closed while you sleep, but research shows that the color you see right before you close your eyes can affect how quickly you fall asleep. According to a study conducted by Travelodge, blue comes in as the #1 best color for bedrooms. It can slow heart rate and even reduce blood pressure. Green and yellow are next best. Purple is the worst color for bedrooms—too stimulating.
Bed and Bedding
The bed is the stage you set for a good night’s sleep. Focusing on this queen-or-king sized portion of your home is an essential part of creating a haven for rest.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Bedroom Poll, 92% of Americans surveyed about the factors that contribute to good sleep say that a comfortable mattress is crucial. 91% pointed to pillows. So obviously, paying attention to the type and quality of your bed and bedding is vital. Much of this is a matter of preference, however. No one can tell you if you’re best off with a hard mattress or a down quilt—you’ll have to decide for yourself, and if necessary, negotiate with your partner.
If a canopy over your bed would make you feel all cozy, then put one up. A fuzzy bedside rug to cradle your feet before you climb into bed? A body pillow to curl around? Yes!
Invest in getting the bedroom in your new home in the Bay Area set up as a good wind-down zone right from the beginning, and it will pay dividends for years to come—in energy and in good health.
Trumark Homes creates new home communities throughout northern and southern California. We’re passionate about quality, value and attention to detail. For more information on great homes to live—and sleep in—please contact us.