A beautiful bedroom creates a calming environment perfect for relaxing into deep sleep, and the benefits of a good night’s rest are foundational to a healthy lifestyle! Travis and I have been really enjoying the most recent changes to our bedroom, which have made it an even more restful place where we’re able to prepare for bed and find renewal.
Today, I want to talk about all the other tools we use in our bedroom to get the perfect night’s sleep.
Preparing for Bedtime
Getting good sleep means leaning into your own circadian rhythm, and listening to your body’s signals that it’s time to hit the sack. It’s not just about the amount of hours—the time you go to sleep is so important. Going to bed at the same time every night not only strengthens your sleep schedule, it creates a reliable system of hormone release within the body, which makes us healthier, happier humans!
Still, it can be hard to force yourself to sleep when you feel wired, even when it’s ‘technically’ bedtime. We can prepare for sleep starting with a comfortable seat shrouded in warm, dim light. I recommend spending some time with a book, or journaling out all the thoughts that built up throughout the day. By getting everything on paper, we relieve our brains of trying to hold all the information and allow ourselves to relax.
For a good night’s sleep, I know that I HAVE to fall asleep before Travis because of his snoring. It’s not that hard, since Mr. Meticulous is a night owl and will sometimes come to bed at 2 AM! Of course, then he’s dead on his feet for 3 days afterwards. As we get older, it becomes tougher to bounce back.
The Timing of Sleep
Personally, I believe everyone should go to bed by 11 PM. Then again, maybe I’m speaking from a different developmental stage. Age is a big factor in sleep: when you’re young, a late night doesn’t affect you so much. But as we age, a sleepless night can make you feel like you have a hangover for four days!
When I’m well-rested, I generally wake up around 7am. But stress, anxiety, alcohol and caffeine can all have a negative impact on my sleep cycle, leaving me awake at 5:30 or 6 with no hope of getting another few hours. How you wake up is a big indicator of sleep health! When we sleep soundly and on schedule, we’re less likely to hit snooze, and make the transition to wakefulness more easily.
If you find yourself groggy and out of balance in the mornings, it might be time to try some new tools and techniques for a better night’s sleep. Here are a few of my favorites!
Moderate Noise and Light
I didn’t always realize it, but I actually count as a light sleeper. I need my room to be super dark, and I use a white noise machine & earplugs because Travis snores! There are a lot of fancy earplug options, but I prefer the classic, yellow 3M earplugs. They don’t have an ear “shape,” you just mash them in and let them expand and form to your ear canal.
Sensory deprivation tools are a great starting point, whether it’s earplugs or eye masks. Travis likes to use an eye mask, which helps create the level of darkness needed to get good, deep sleep, especially once the sun begins to rise before 6am in the summer. But deprivation isn’t the only key, sometimes making noise is the right technique!
By creating a consistent and reliable aural environment, sound machines drown out other nighttime sounds, which prevents distracting noises from interrupting our sleep. Studies have shown that those who use sound machines are able to fall asleep up to 40% faster than those who don’t. It’s best to keep it by a noisy door or window to help regulate the sounds we’re picking up in our sleep state.
My sound machine is an old tool from my office during my therapy days. It’s the classic old-school version with 2 simple settings: low and high. I don’t have any fancy jungle sounds or a babbling brook—literally just white noise. I brought it home when we the girls were babies, and now it’s a must-have in our bedroom!
My All-Time Favorite Sleep Tool
As much as noise moderation helps, the best tool I have in my sleep arsenal is my weighted blanket. No matter the weather, I never sleep without it! When it’s cold, I put it on top of our comforter and snuggle up under all the layers. When it’s warm, I kick off all the other blankets and just sleep with just the weighted blanket. You could do a sheet underneath, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
The science behind weighted blankets comes from Deep Pressure Stimulation, or Deep Pressure Therapy, which relaxes the nervous system. This yields the same kind of response that babies have to being swaddled, or the way we feel calmer after a co-regulating hug. For best results, a blanket equal to 10% of your body weight is recommended.
That extra weight creates physical responses in the body: your heart rate begins to slow down and breathing becomes more even. There’s a sense of surrender when using a weighted blanket, which really helps to let go of anxious thoughts and relax into sleep.
By creating a calming bedroom environment where we can notice ourselves growing sleepy even before we crawl into bed, we’re able to begin noticing some of the distractions that come up for us as we wind down the day. Through awareness, we can create solutions that treat the symptoms unique to our own experience for a better night’s sleep… and healthier waking hours, too.