As a species, we aren’t good sleepers. About 45 percent of the world’s population suffers from some form of sleep problems, that’s around 3.15 billion people. And, the problem appears to be the worst for the Westerners. If you live in the US, you’re only managing to get around 6 hours and 31 minutes sleep on an average. That’s not as bad as in Japan, where the average person gets about ten minutes less sleep per night. But it’s still a long way behind European countries like Germany and Ireland. And, even further behind the US’s closest neighbor, Canada, where they manage to rack up a good 7 hours and six minutes in the sack each night. So, what can be done to improve the quality of our night’s sleep? People have tried all sorts of things. And the bedroom ritual has become something of a passion for many people. It’s like a little spell we use to help us drift off to sleep as if the supernatural were somehow involved. About 68 percent of people in the UK watch TV just before bed, 57 percent play on their iPads, 42 percent read and 4 percent do yoga! But, when it comes to sleep, we needn’t invoke spells. There are many things we can do to make the bedroom more amenable to sleep. And, some of them run counter to our bedtime rituals.
1. Make It Cool to have a Good Night’s Sleep
When humans evolved, they slept when it was cool, that is, they slept at night. When we go to sleep, the temperature should be lower than it’s during the day. To achieve this, you might want to install a ceiling fan in the bedroom. Not only will this look stylish, it will help to maintain a constant 18-21 degrees temperature. Alternatively, you can just open the window a crack and let some cool air in to circulate.
2. Remove Blue Light and Work Material
It’s really important to remove computers and any other work related items from the bedroom. We need about an hour or so before bed, where we just allow ourselves to completely relax. Without this relaxation, the body doesn’t receive the signal that it’s now time for sleep. The light from your TV, PC or iPad also can disturb your sleep. Those electronics give off a blue light that provide signals to your body that it is morning and, therefore, time to wake up. Remove these objects from the bedroom.
3. Install Thick, Dark Curtains
Installing thick, dark curtains helps to eliminate any light coming into the bedroom. You’ll find that if the bedroom is darker, your sleep will be of higher quality. Again, this comes back to the fact that during evolution, humans slept without any light during the night. But, thanks to things like sleep lights, street lights and computers, our night times are saturated with light. And, our bodies have no way to distinguish this artificial night time light from the light of the sun.
4. Get a Comfortable Mattress
One of the reasons people struggle to sleep is that they are uncomfortable on their existing mattress. This is no wonder, given that the average person tosses and turns around 40 to 60 times each night. Fortunately for us, NASA developed Tempur in 1970s, which was designed to relieve pressure for astronauts in space. Before buying, you may want to get a professional opinion on Tempur mattresses. Suffice to say that these mattresses significantly reduce the pressure on any one particular part of our bodies.
5. Color Scheme for a Good Night’s Sleep
Are you seeing a pattern yet? Our sleep is very sensitive to visual cues. In fact, the color scheme in our bedroom may affect our sleep patterns not through activating some primordial sleep hormone, but, through its effect on our psychology. According to scientists, cool colors, like blues, greens and greys help us to relax. They reduce our heart rate, lower our blood pressure and slow down respiration. They have also been shown to constrict the pupils and dilate blood vessels. So, that has led some to theorize that they promote better overall sleep. The opposite appears to be true for warm colors, like reds, yellows and oranges. These colors increase heart rate, increase blood pressure and deepen respiration. These help to get a good night’s sleep.
But don’t go for any old shade of blue or green. Go for muted shades. Think of pastel colors, if you want to induce sleep. And, remember, you can use these colors throughout the room. They can be incorporated into curtains, pillow cases and lamp shades.