A Better Sleep Environment Using All Five Senses
By Alanna McGinn, Sleep Expert
The key to a good night’s sleep at any age is to set up your sleep environment for sleep success. We equip our kitchens with the tools we need to create delicious meals and our dens are fit for relaxation and entertainment. Unfortunately, the bedroom sleep environment often gets overlooked.
Instead of functioning as your space to sleep, it becomes your office, your storage or laundry room, or your kid's playroom. Sound familiar? It’s important to make your bedroom conducive to sleep to promote a healthier, more restorative sleep. You can start that by making sure your five senses are covered in your sleep environment and transform your bedroom to support more sleep filled nights.SIGHT
Our internal biological clocks are run off of a 24-hour schedule. There are many factors that influence our natural circadian rhythms, the main one being our external environment and the light and dark of the day. When it’s dark outside, our sleep drive is stronger making us more tired at night. It’s important to make your sleep environment dark, as in cave-like, to rev up your sleep drive and naturally release your sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin aids in you falling off to blissful sleep. Darkness turns the sleep switch on.
Tip! Turn off tech. Your sleep environment should be cleared of all electronic devices. Take out your TV’s, computers, and handheld devices. The blue LED lights from the screens right before bedtime ceases the release of melatonin and turns the sleep switch off. All electronics should be turned off at least 60 minutes before bedtime. Try out tips for making your own family docking station to help shelve electronics before bed.SOUND
Introducing a white noise machine or sound spa to your bedroom can be relaxing and also help drown out any external sounds like a busy street, loud birds, or noisy neighbours. For the smaller kids, it can be a great use to mask the sounds of older siblings running around during naptime. Any consistent sound like static, running water, rainfall etc. can help push you into your next sleep cycle more easily and into more of a restorative sleep.TASTE
There are foods that can aid in promoting sleep, and a few foods to include in your diet are:
Lean Meats and Fish – Most are a great source of vitamin B6, which is needed in the creation of the hormone melatonin. Other great sources of B6 are fortified cereals and chickpeas.
Dairy and Leafy Greens – Yogurt, cheese, milk, kale, and collards are great sources of calcium. Calcium has been proven to be effective in reducing stress and helping you relax. It’s not a myth that a warm glass of milk can help you fall asleep at bedtime.
Almonds – Just a handful of almonds can push you into the state of slumber you desire. They contain tryptophan and magnesium, which help steady your heart rhythm and naturally reduce muscle and nerve function. Another fantastic source of tryptophan and magnesium are bananas. Banana and almond milk smoothie anyone?
Cherries – Along with nuts and oats, cherries are a natural source of melatonin and can help in regulating your sleep cycle. While it’s not known exactly how much cherries or tart cherry juice should be consumed, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to munch on a few or take a few sips before bed.TOUCH
We want to keep a cool environment. Natural fibers like cotton are affordable and the most breathable, keeping you both cool and dry throughout the night. And don’t forget about thread count! The ideal thread count would be between 280 and 400. They’ll feel better, wash well with little shrinking and you can find them at multiple price points.SMELL
The scent of lavender has been proven to improve more restful and restorative sleep and decrease anxiety. And it smells lovely. There are many ways you can introduce lavender to your sleep environment. You can spray it on your pillow or rub three drops into your cupped hands and inhale until you feel relaxed. You can also make your own small satchels filled with fresh lavender and throw it under your bed or on your night table.
About the Author
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.
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